Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Petronas Yamaha MotoGP rookie Fabio Quartararo fought out a sensational last lap duel at the San Marino Grand Prix.
As Marquez and Quartararo, the race leader from lap three, went onto the final lap the reigning champion was close enough to make his move and as they passed the finish line Marquez found that extra grunt from the Honda to power past the Yamaha man as they headed into Turn 1 to lead for the first time in the race.
Quartararo wasn’t giving up the chance of a debut MotoGP win easily and got a good run out of Turn 2 and 3 to retake the advantage. Marquez wasn’t finished and went back ahead at Turn 8.
Now Quartararo had some work to do if he wanted the win and got a good run through Turn 11 and 12 but as they approached Turn 14 Marquez closed the door and as the Frenchman tried to cut back there was no room and his Yamaha nearly touched the rear wheel of the Honda.
The 20-year-old had to sit up and in that split second his chance of victory was gone and Marquez, who had been pipped for the win at the last two GPs, took his 77th Grand Prix win, extending his championship lead to 93 points over Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso with only six rounds left in this year’s championship.
Completing the rostrum was pole setter and early race leader Maverick Viñales on the Monster Energy Yamaha with his teammate Valentino Rossi fourth.
Marquez said: “Honestly speaking, I knew it wasn’t necessary to win because I saw that Rins was out and Dovizioso was far from us but I had some extra motivation.
“I just tried to stay with Fabio as close as I could and in the end I was weighing up whether to try or not. On the last lap I decided to go.
“I knew Fabio was very fast in Sector 3, so I made my move before that and closed the corner as much as I could. Fabio rode a very strong race today. I raced as smart as I could and in the end it is nice to win in Italy, but even nicer to have 93 points of advantage.”
Quartararo added: “I gave it my all, but Marc has more experience in last lap battles and today he was able to use it all.
“It’s the first time I’ve even been able to fight with him, and to be able to have battled with a seven-time World Champion is the best moment of my career so far.”
In the Moto3 class Scotsman John McPhee came within 0.112 seconds of the win after coming through from row five on the Petronas Honda to finish a close second to race winner Tatsuki Suzuki.
Brit Sam Lowes took his best finish of the season when he finished fifth on the Federal Oil Gresini in the Moto2 race behind Agusto Fernandez.