Pol Espargaro captured 10th position ahead of fellow Red Bull KTM riders Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder at a hot Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for the first of two San Marino-based rounds of 2020 MotoGP.
The Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini represented the first appointment of a busy week at Misano. The sixth fixture of 2020 was the opening race of a back-to-back stint in San Marino and with a MotoGP IRTA test also part of the program.
Red Bull KTM rued some misfortune in Qualification on Saturday that led to some mid-grid positions. The 27-lap main event on Sunday then became a tricky challenge. Once the red light disappeared Pol Espargaro led the orange charge on the KTM RC16s on the fringes of the top ten. He had Styrian GP winner Oliveira for company and Brad Binder soon joined the scrap. Iker Lecuona was handicapped by a long-lap penalty (after stalling his bike on the warm-up lap) but pushed hard to enter the top fifteen and register championship points. At the checkered flag Espargaro was less than half a second in front of both his fellow Red Bull KTM riders.
KTM are 3rd in the Constructors standings after six rounds and in only their fourth season in the premier class.
Pol Espargaro: “Not so much to say today. I had trouble to stop the rear of the bike from the first lap and I was stuck behind Johann [Zarco] for quite a long time. It wasn’t really safe to make it happen cleanly and I could only manage when the pace dropped and then the others caught me. We paid a bit for the mistakes on Saturday and we need to solve our problems before next weekend. I’m confident we can do it and we can have a better race.”
Miguel Oliveira: “It was a tough race. It was quite hard to make up positions, especially in the beginning of the race. We had many riders with different tire choices, so it made our life very difficult, but we had a good pace. We were just too far away. Now we are focusing on Tuesday, trying a couple of things during the test in order to have a better weekend and especially a better Qualifying next time.”
Brad Binder: “I didn’t start well and from then I tried my best to recover positions. The first 10-12 laps I didn’t have a good feeling but then it got better and better. I don’t feel I can complain too much. We have to take advantage of this test on Tuesday to make a few improvements. It was cool to be part of that KTM battle and I could see we were all having the same issues. It’s very tight in MotoGP right now but my attitude stays the same: I’m trying to enjoy and take the best of each race.”
Iker Lecuona: “I made that mistake on the warm-up lap. I stopped the engine and eventually, I needed to do the long lap. In the end, lap by lap I improved. For many laps, I was the fastest KTM rider on the track, overtook many riders and finished in the points, so finally, I’m really happy. Sorry to my team for that mistake but at the same time thanks to them for their great work.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “It was not the best results for us and the fact that the boys could not get a fast lap in qualifying made it difficult today to get near the front of the group because the rhythm of the riders is very similar. After the last few races we are not so happy with the results but the race pace today was positive. All four riders did well in their respective battles and brought the bikes home for points, especially Iker who came back from a long-lap penalty. We’ll try everything we can to be better for next weekend.”
Moto2 & Moto3
SKY Racing Team VR46’s Celestino Vietti claimed the last Grand Prix in Styria but his home event lasted less than a lap when he was hit by a tumbling Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez; the Spaniard had been hit by Sergio Garcia. Fernandez had to pit with a broken front brake. Moto3 series leader Albert Arenas was another faller with just two laps until the flag. The Spaniard still fronts the standings by 5 points despite the setback. KTM’s highest placed runner in Misano was Andrea Migno in 10th.
In Moto2 Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin had been declared unfit to race after a positive COVID-19 test. The Spaniard was asymptotic but was taking the appropriate health measures and missed the Grand Prix. Teammate Tetsuta Nagashima crashed on the last lap while trying his maximum to secure a top eight result.
MotoGP remains on the Adriatic coast and will return to Misano next weekend for the Gran Premio TISSOT dell'Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini. The MotoGP class will take part in an IRTA test session at the same circuit on Tuesday.
Results MotoGP Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini 2020
1. Franco Morbidelli (ITA) Yamaha 42:02.272
2. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +2.217
3. Joan Mir (ESP), Suzuki +2.290
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Yamaha +2.643
5. Alex Rins (ESP) Suzuki +4.044
10. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM +12.030
11. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +12.376
12. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM +12.405
14. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +19.914
Results Moto2 Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini 2020
1. Luca Marini (ITA) 40.41.774
2. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) +0.799
3. Enea Bastianini (ITA) +0.897
DNF. Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN) Red Bull KTM Ajo
Results Moto3 Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini 2020
1. John McPhee (GBR) Honda 37:10.319
2. Ai Ogura (JPN) Honda +0.938
3. Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN) Honda +0.410
DNF. Raul Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +4.265