JEREZ, Spain (Reuters) – Fabio Quartararo of Petronas Yamaha led from start to finish in the scorching heat of Jerez to win an incident-packed Andalusian MotoGP on Sunday.
Frenchman Quartararo, who also won the season-opening Spanish Grand Prix last weekend, cruised to victory from pole position while factory Yamaha duo of Spaniard Maverick Vinales and former champion Valentino Rossi finished second and third.
“That one was tough,” Quartararo said after a race in which eight riders crashed or retired due to technical problems.
“What an amazing feeling, it feels so good to make back-to-back wins.
“Strange conditions today, but I think it was one of the hardest races of my life.”
Victory moved Quartararo to 50 points in the world championship standings, 10 points ahead of Vinales.
Vinales clinched runners-up spot after an overtake on the penultimate lap and 41-year-old Italian Rossi took a podium place for the 199th time in his premier class career and first since the Grand Prix of the Americas last year.
Rossi, who started fourth on the grid, made a good start and quickly moved up to second ahead of Vinales with the two Pramac Ducatis of Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia looking to reel them in.
Bagnaia, who had never finished on the podium, capitalised on mistakes from Miller and Vinales to move up to third and he eased past Rossi whose tyres were struggling for grip in the heat before Miller slid off at turn nine.
Petronas Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli looked set to challenge for a podium place before technical problems forced him to retire.
Bagnaia was cruelly denied a podium when his bike began trailing smoke and the visibly upset Italian had to retire from the race.
Defending champion Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda did not take part as he continues to recover from surgery on a broken arm sustained in the season-opening race last weekend.
The next race is in the Czech Republic on Aug. 9.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)