Marc Marquez returned to the top step of the podium at the Grand Prix of the Americas, where Fabio Quartararo took another step towards the MotoGP world championship.

Six-time premier-class champion Marquez did not finish a single grand prix in 2020 due to injury and has struggled at times with his fitness again this year, unable to play a part in the title race.

But the Repsol Honda great provided a reminder of his talent with a straightforward second win of the season in Texas on Sunday.

Marquez had won on 10 of his 11 previous appearances in the United States, only failing at the previous GP of the Americas in 2019 as he retired.

He started from third but led from the first corner, ducking up the inside and never looking like relinquishing his advantage.

Marquez maintained a steady pace initially, but having held his own looked to kick clear and was comfortable all the way to prompt celebrations in his garage.

Crucially in terms of the title picture, Quartararo followed Marquez over the line, his second consecutive second-placed finish enough to stretch his season lead.

Fabio Bagnaia, Quartararo's nearest rival, started from pole for a third race running but could not follow up back-to-back victories with a third.

He was forced to settle for third and now trails by 52 points with only three grands prix remaining.

All eyes will be on Francesco Bagnaia at the Grand Prix of Americas after the Ducati star claimed his third successive pole position.

Bagnaia became the first Italian rider to clinch a hat-trick of poles since MotoGP great Valentino Rossi in 2009, while he is first Ducati to do so in consecutive events since Jorge Lorenzo in 2018.

The 24-year-old achieved the feat after snapping Honda superstar Marc Marquez's run of seven straight poles at the Grand Prix of Americas in Texas on Saturday.

Bagnaia's last lap of two minutes, 02.781seconds left six-time world champion Marquez in third as Yamaha championship leader Fabio Quartararo earned second spot.

As Bagnaia seeks to become the second Ducati rider to clinch three straight victories along with Casey Stoner (2007 and 2008), Yamaha's Rossi lavished his countryman in praise.

"Pecco is impressive, it's his third consecutive pole position, with an incredible lap," seven-time MotoGP champion Rossi said after qualifying 20th fastest.

"He's in great shape and it's a real pleasure to see him ride. It's really been a long time since I've seen the Ducati ridden so well, so I'm very happy for him."

It is set to be another showdown between Quartararo and Bagnaia, who is 48 points adrift of the Frenchman ahead of Sunday's main race with crucial championship points on the line.

Quartararo is the only MotoGP rider who has collected points in the 14 races held so far in 2021. In fact, he has picked up points in his last 15 races – his best historical run in all categories and the best of any MotoGP rider since Maverick Vinales' 16 between 2020 and 2021.

But Bagnaia said: "I took some risk to do it because this morning I was more in trouble. Then we decided to stop and try to let the bike follow the bumps better. 

"I started getting a better feeling in FP4 and in the Q2 I was able again to have the same feeling. 

"It was easier for me to push more. Then when I saw I was down [faster] in the first sector by two tenths I tried to push more and I'm very happy because we started this weekend a bit in trouble and now we are again on top."

 

Qualifying results

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 2:02.781
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.348secs
3. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.428
4. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.497
5. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +0.511
6. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.598
7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.672
8. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.747
9. Luca Marini (Avintia) +0.765
10. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.939
11. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +1.000
12. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +1.094

Francesco Bagnaia was "on another level" as he sealed victory at the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday, so says MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo.

Bagnaia held off Quartararo in a pulsating late battle to secure back-to-back victories, following on from his maiden MotoGP win in Aragon last time out.

Yamaha's Quartararo still holds a healthy 48-point lead over Bagnaia in the world championship standings, after the Frenchman made a late charge to secure second place ahead of rookie Enea Bastianini.

Quartararo was delighted with his ride, but was full of admiration for Bagnaia's performance at Misano.

"It was so difficult because they were attacking me from all sides and I lost quite a bit of time in the beginning," Quartararo said.

"But I gave it all and sometimes was really close to the ground. I wanted to try for the win but Francesco was on another level today, I don't know how he's doing that.

"At the end we did the job, points in the championship is really important, we still have an advantage so let's stay calm and give congratulations to Francesco because he did an amazing race."

A first MotoGP win had been a long time coming for Ducati's Bagnaia, who was delighted to so swiftly add a second, and he acknowledged a strong start was crucial to his victory.

"With soft tyres, maybe I was struggling a bit, but I tried to push in the first two or three laps to make the gap," he said.

"It was very difficult, but I tried to push. The pace was quite close.

"We worked it so perfectly, two big wins in a row is incredible for me. I was targeting to win my first race but always I was missing something and now already two, so I'm very happy."

Bastianini, meanwhile, revelled in a maiden podium appearance.

"It's possible to do this with these bikes, I know the potential," Bastianini said. 

"I battled a lot during the race, it was really difficult to close the gap. It was impossible for me to attack these two riders [Bagnaia and Quartararo] today, but it's really nice to have the first podium at Misano, it's amazing for me."

Francesco Bagnaia held off Fabio Quartararo in a pulsating late battle to secure back-to-back victories at the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday.

Bagnaia led from start to finish but came under huge pressure from Quartararo in the final few laps at Ducati's local track of Misano, where the rain that was forecast never arrived.

The Italian held his nerve to secure another victory from pole a week after claiming his maiden MotoGP win in Aragon.

Bagnaia's triumph left him 48 points behind Yamaha's championship leader Quartararo, who had to settle for second spot following a late charge after starting in third.

Rookie Enea Bastianini produced a sensational ride to get himself on the podium for the first time, having been way back in 11th on the grid, while Marc Marquez took fourth ahead of Jack Miller and Joan Mir.

Bagnaia got off to a flyer and his team-mate Miller retained second spot off the grid, while Jorge Martin spun off early on at Turn 14 but picked himself up to continue.

Marquez gained a couple of early places and Quartararo flashed past Miller to move into second spot, with Bagnaia extending his advantage out in front.

Bastianini stormed past Marquez into fourth and Martin retired with 16 laps to go before Alex Rins crashed out.

Bagnaia looked comfortable but Quartararo started to close significantly with the laps running out, with the Frenchman scenting a dramatic victory.

The ice-cool Bagnaia was not to be denied, though, and his compatriot secured a magnificent third place after overtaking Miller with nine laps remaining.

Francesco Bagnaia stormed to another MotoGP pole position but Sunday's weather could be pivotal to deciding who wins the San Marino Grand Prix.

Ducati bikes dominated qualifying, accounting for four of the top five places, with Jack Miller joining Bagnaia in a one-two for the factory team, ahead of Yamaha's championship leader Fabio Quartararo.

The Ducati-powered Pramac Racing pair of Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco took fourth and fifth at Misano, a local track for Ducati who will be hoping for a 'home' race win.

Yet Bagnaia and Quartararo both indicated after Saturday's qualifying session that should it rain, as forecasts suggest it well may, that could be a major factor in the outcome. A wet track is likely to suit the pole-sitter.

Pace-setter Bagnaia also took pole at last week's Aragon Grand Prix and converted that into a race win, his first at MotoGP level, and he sits second in the championship.

He described his fastest lap time on Saturday as "incredible" and said: "I feel great with everything. I think we did a really good pace

"In both conditions, dry and wet, I think we are ready to fight. For sure, in the dry Fabio has better pace than in Aragon, so I think it can be a good fight with him, but let's see, never say never.

"I prefer dry. It's very difficult to predict a strategy for tomorrow but I'd like to start well, push from the start, and see if I can manage the gap or I will have to fight in the last laps. In any case we will try to be ready for every condition.

"It's the second weekend in a row that all the Ducati are at the front in qualifying, and also for me to put the bike in front of Fabio for the championship. We're working well, the bike is very competitive, and we're doing a really great step every time."

Quartararo crashed as he looked to jump ahead of Bagnaia on the grid, but the French rider brushed that off after the session, declaring he was "totally OK".

"I just wanted to exaggerate a little bit on the braking, but unfortunately it was not working," Quartararo told MotoGP's official website. "But it was good, I gave it a try – at least I felt the real limit on the bike. I feel like our pace is really good compared to Aragon, where it was not great. I'm feeling ready for tomorrow – a little bit surrounded by red [Ducati] bikes but I'm feeling good.

"They are faster than us in the wet, but my feeling on the dry is super good and I want to keep going in that direction. I don't want to talk about rain and I don't want to call it."

Ducati have now been on pole four times at Misano, after Casey Stoner topped the time sheets in 2007 and 2008, followed by Jorge Lorenzo three years ago. Of those pole-sitters, only Stoner in 2007 took the chequered flag on race day.

Last season's champion Joan Mir had a qualifying session to forget, with a dashboard message on his Suzuki Ecstar bike urging him to pit proving a red herring. There was no problem with the bike, and technical manager Ken Kawauchi later apologised for the mistake.

Mir was ushered back to the track but could only finish in 11th place, with Quartararo's crash causing yellow-flag conditions in the closing stages.

"Qualifying was a shame; we didn’t have the potential to fight for pole and we're honestly quite far from that," said Mir.

"I felt that the second row was possible, but then I had some trouble with the front on my first exit, then I saw a message on my dashboard right after I exited for the second run. I thought I should stop in case there was something wrong with the bike, and in the end this impacted my qualifying as well as the yellow flag on my last flying lap.

"There’s no point being frustrated; the focus now is on the race and I know I have good pace if I can get a strong start."


Qualifying results

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:31.065
2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.249secs
3. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.302
4. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.598
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.771
6. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +0.858
7. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.870
8. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.872
9. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.952
10. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +1.056
11. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +1.361
12. Enea Bastianini (Avintia) +1.396

Francesco Bagnaia revelled in a "dream come true" after earning a sensational first MotoGP win by holding off Marc Marquez, who said he proved his old mentality is still burning as strong as ever.

Marquez missed almost the entirety of 2020 due to a serious arm injury and has only one victory to his name this season.

It was so nearly two in a stunning tussle at the Aragon Grand Prix on Sunday, but it was Ducati rider Bagnaia who topped a premier-class podium for the first time in his career.

Speaking afterwards, Bagnaia – who now sits second in the riders' standings, 53 points adrift of Fabio Quartararo – struggled to comprehend the level of his achievement.

"I'm feeling a lot of emotion today, I'm so happy," he said. 

"We worked a lot to achieve this result, every time we were close, something happened and the dream to win my first victory was far. 

"I'm so happy, I have to say thanks to all the team, all my family, my fantastic girlfriend, who are all with me every day.

"It's difficult to say something now but it was not easy to stay in front of Marc at this track. His body is not at 100 per cent, I think today he was very, very competitive. I just tried to do my best, to finish first is a dream come true."

Marquez made several passes during the final few laps, only to cede back the position on each occasion in a race that thrilled to the finish.

The Repsol Honda rider thinks he proved a point with his battling display.

"Yeah, I mean like some people [said] the old Marquez is not there, today we showed it's the same mentality," he said. 

"I still need to find the best level of myself. But anyway, it is a great result, I enjoyed a lot the race and the battle with Pecco on the last laps. I was a bit on the limit, but I think everybody was the same and I tried like always. 

"Even coming in from two crashes in a row, I try, this is my style. Today Pecco was faster than us, he did an incredible race. It was not possible but anyway I'm really happy."

World champion Joan Mir came home third for Suzuki Ecstar and was disappointed not to have challenged the leaders.

"I feel tired, I gave 110 per cent," he said. "And honestly, I'm a bit disappointed today. I expected a little bit better today, the pace over the weekend was better than to make only a podium. I expected to fight with those guys. 

"At the beginning, starting seventh position probably penalised us a little bit. I'm happy for the team, another podium is always a podium, but we want more, so let's push more."

Francesco Bagnaia held off Marc Marquez in a sensational Aragon Grand Prix to claim a maiden win in MotoGP.

The Ducati rider and his Spanish rival, aiming to win on his fifth straight appearance at the track having not raced there in 2020, exchanged position several times over the course of a pulsating finish.

But the Italian, who started on pole, put on a masterclass to beat Repsol Honda rider Marquez in his own backyard to clinch an unbelievable victory and move up to second in the riders' standings.

Bagnaia finished down in 14th last time out at the British Grand Prix for his worst result in two years but he and Marquez stole a march on the chasing pack this time around.

It has been a largely disappointing season for the legendary Marquez, who missed almost the entirety of 2020 through injury, yet there were signs of his best in a thrilling chase.

Marquez made his first move at Turn 5 with three laps to go, only to go wide and allow Bagnaia to reclaim the lead.

That theme continued for the rest of the race as Marquez made several passes and on each occasion giving it back, until finally he went off track at Turn 12 allowing Bagnaia to finally claim a win in the premier class.

Defending world champion Joan Mir rounded out the podium, while riders' standings leader Fabio Quartararo finished a distant eighth but was the only Yamaha rider inside the points.

Aleix Espargaro was fourth ahead of Jack Miller, who was on course for a podium finish until a costly error midway through the race saw him lose position.

TOP 10

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati)
2. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.673s
3. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +3.911s
4. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +9.269s
5. Jack Miller (Ducati) +11.928s
6. Enea Bastianini (Avintia) +13.757s
7. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +14.064s
8. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +16.575s
9. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +16.615s
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +16.904s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 214
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 161
3. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 157
4. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 137
5. Jack Miller (Ducati) 129

Teams

1. Monster Energy Yamaha 309
2. Ducati 290
3. Suzuki Ecstar 225
4. Pramac Racing 212
5. Red Bull KTM 204

Francesco Bagnaia produced a "perfect lap" to seal pole position for Sunday's Aragon GP.

The Italian delivered a lap of one minute and 46.332 seconds on his second run to break the lap record at Aragon, which had stood since 2015.

Ducati team-mate Jack Miller was his nearest rival at just 0.366secs adrift, giving Ducati their first one-two in qualifying since Aragon 2018.

It marks Bagnaia's second pole of the 2021 season and the 50th for Ducati in MotoGP.

"I think it was a perfect lap," said Bagnaia. "It was great. I did a nice sector one, the sector two was incredible too and our bike in sector four helped us a lot.

"Also, entry to the last corner was incredible. I looked at the data of Jorge Martin this morning, who was doing a different line compared to me, and then I tried to do the same and I improved a lot. I didn't expect to do a lap like that."

Bagnaia has never won a MotoGP race and he is keen to avoid complacency ahead of Sunday's race at MotorLand.

"I'll just try to set my pace and be fast," he added. "It will be important what happens with the tyres after 15 or 16 laps and in the last part of the race I feel strong, we will see if I am strong enough to win.

"The important thing will be to stay with the best from start to finish.

"It’s difficult to say that I'm ready to win or that I can win, but all the things are there."

Fabio Quartararo completed the front row, extending his run of consecutive top-three qualifying results to 11 this season.

The French rider, however, does not believe he has the pace to keep up with the Ducati pair.

"I want to have fun. Of course, it would be great to fight for the podium," he said.

"But to be honest, I don't feel I have the pace, so I will try to manage the best result as possible and I will try to stay with the front guys and fight until the end.

"But right now, at least we need to make a step in the warm-up to be able to fight for the podium tomorrow.

"So, let's hope for an improvement on the warm-up."

Provisional classification

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:46.322
2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.366
3. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.397
4. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.414
5. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.556
6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.561
7. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.840
8. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +0.872
9. Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) +0.956
10. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.966
11. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +1.044
12. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +1.610

Maverick Vinales will make his Aprilia debut at the Aragon Grand Prix, with the Spaniard replacing Lorenzo Savadori for the rest of the MotoGP season.

Vinales left Monster Energy Yamaha ahead of schedule last month and had two successful test days with Aprilia at Misano this week.

Aprilia on Wednesday revealed that the 26-year-old will line up alongside Aleix Espargaro in the next MotoGP round on home soil this week.

Savadori, who is recovering from the fractured right malleolus he suffered at the Styrian GP, will take part in a selection of wildcards this season and be an Aprilia test rider next year.

Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola said: "We are extremely proud to be able to announce our plans for the current season and for 2022 with the goal of optimising the contributions of our three riders to the utmost.

"Alongside our confirmed rider, Aleix, it is our pleasure to welcome a talented athlete like Maverick to the Aprilia Racing team, who demonstrated a great feeling with the team and the bike straight away and who I am confident will be able to give his best as early as the Aragon GP.

"At the same time, we are also confirming Lorenzo’s role as 2022 test rider.

"This is a fundamental position that rewards the great efforts he has demonstrated in developing the new RS-GP, whereas he will finish out the 2021 season taking advantage of the wildcards that we'll decide on together as soon as he is back to 100 per cent fitness."

Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing technical director, said: "The decision to have Maverick on the track from Aragon is a direct result of the tests done in Misano.

"It was not a given that, after a career spent up to now on a bike with an in-line engine, Maverick would have a good feeling with our V4 straight away. This is why the test on this track, historically not an easy one for our bike, was an important moment of assessment.

"Therefore, we are satisfied with Maverick's immediately positive reactions, which demonstrated a good feeling both with the RS-GP and with the team and our work method.

"His and Aleix's talent, combined with the experience Lorenzo has gained this season, make us optimistic about the future of our MotoGP project."

Fabio Quartararo stretched his lead at the top of the MotoGP standings on Sunday with a controlled victory at the British Grand Prix.

Having qualified third at Silverstone, the Monster Energy Yamaha rider surged to the front early on and led superbly to claim an 18th podium finish in the top category, level with Christian Sarron for the most achieved by a Frenchman.

Quartararo has finished in the points for 13 consecutive races – surpassing the previous career high of 12 that he achieved in MotoGP2 in 2018 – and he now leads the championship by 65 points from Joan Mir, who climbed to second.

Valentino Rossi, chasing a double-century of podium finishes and a fifth in six races at Silverstone, finished down in 16th.

This race has turned into one dominated by Spanish riders, who have won six of the most recent 10, but the chasing cohort could not put French star Quartararo under enough pressure in overcast conditions in Northamptonshire.

Brothers Pol and Aleix Espargaro were locked in a tussle for first from the off as the former fought determinedly to avoid a third-straight outing without a points finish, something he last endured three years ago.

However, once Quartararo put his extra pace to good use on lap five and built a three-second advantage, the leader never looked under threat.

Alex Rins, winner of this race in 2019, picked off Pol Espargaro on lap eight and took second, but Suzuki Ecstar team-mate Mir could not do likewise and eventually limped through in ninth.

Aprilia celebrated their first MotoGP podium as Aleix Espargaro just held off the challenge of Jack Miller for third, the Australian at least collecting points at the British GP for just the second time.

It proved an historic race as, for the first time in MotoGP, there were six different manufacturers in the top six.

TOP 10

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha)  
2. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +2.663s
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +4.105s
4. Jack Miller (Ducati) +4.254s
5. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +8.462s
6. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +12.189s
7. Iker Lecuona (Tech 3 KTM) +13.560s
8. Alex Marquez (LCR Honda) +14.044s
9. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +16.226s
10. Danilo Petrucci (Tech 3 KTM) +16.287s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 206
2. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 141
3. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 137
4. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 136
5. Jack Miller (Ducati) 118

Teams

1. Monster Energy Yamaha 301
2. Ducati 254
3. Pramac Racing 205
4. Suzuki Ecstar 205
5. Red Bull KTM 199

Pol Espargaro will hope to be celebrating at the end of Sunday's British Grand Prix, yet the Spaniard already feels like a winner after surprising even himself by claiming pole position.

Espargaro had arrived at Silverstone after struggling in the previous two rounds of the MotoGP season in Austria, failing to score any points by recording successive 16th-place finishes.

However, the 30-year-old belied his recent lack of form with a stunning qualifying performance, securing his first pole for Repsol Honda as he squeezed out Francesco Bagnaia by just 0.022 seconds.

Jorge Martin initially appeared to have set a new fastest lap in the closing stages of the final session, only for his time to be wiped out after it was discovered he had cut the Vale chicane. He will instead start from fourth position.

Championship leader Fabio Quartararo will begin from third, but this was a memorable day for Espargaro as he looks to get back scoring points again, having not gone three in a row without collecting something since he was at KTM in 2018.

"Yeah, it's a little bit shocking after how tough Austria was, how we've been able to come back here," Espargaro said in his post-qualifying interview.

"It's difficult to believe, but there are different ways to take these bad moments – in a sad way, or in an angry way. We opted to take the second option.

"I tried to be every day a little bit better. I’ve been working so much, but unluckily the results were not coming.

"Here, everything is coming much easier. Sure, the track, the weather is cold, the extra grip we have in this track gives me the feelings, I have to apply my riding style and maybe to forget a little the problems we have in the pit box with the bike.

"Also, this place has been good to Honda in the past years, so let's enjoy today. Today this pole felt like a victory."

Quartararo admitted the choice of soft tyres had initially caused him some issues on Saturday, though he was happy enough after a switch helped him achieve his target in qualifying.

"Today I've been struggling so much with the soft tyre," the Frenchman, who is the only MotoGP rider to claim points in every race so far this season, told the media. "I was not feeling great on the bike, but with the medium tyre I was immediately feeling better.

"I was struggling so much in acceleration. The main goal was to be on the front row, and we will not touch anymore the soft tyre. I’m happy about my pace – and also the tyres."

Marc Marquez and Aleix Espargaro join Martin on the second row, while Valentino Rossi, who has finished on the podium in four of his five most recent appearances at the British GP, ended up in eighth, sandwiched between Jack Miller and Johann Zarco.

Joan Mir, meanwhile, has work to do from 11th place. The reigning world champion sits level with Bagnaia in second place in the standings on 134 points, 47 adrift of leader Quartararo.

Maverick Vinales has left Monster Energy Yamaha ahead of schedule, the team announced on Friday.

Vinales and Yamaha agreed earlier this season to cut short a contract that was supposed to run through 2022, with the rider instead leaving at the end of this season.

But Vinales was at the centre of controversy at the Styrian Grand Prix, where he failed to finish.

The Spaniard cited electrical issues with his bike, but Yamaha told of his "irregular operation of the motorcycle", which "could have potentially caused significant damage to the engine".

Vinales was then cut from the Austrian GP and now will not ride for the team again.

The decision was announced in a statement, with Yamaha's team managing director Lin Jarvis explaining: "In Assen, Yamaha and Vinales already announced the mutual decision to cut short their original 2021-2022 programme and to finish it at the end of 2021.

"A commitment was made by both rider and team to continue to the end of the current season, with the team guaranteeing its full support and the rider giving his maximum efforts so that we could finish the project 'in style'.

"Regretfully, at the Styrian GP, the race did not go well or end well and consequently, after deep consideration by both parties, the mutual decision was reached that it would be better for both parties if we end the partnership earlier.

"The early separation will release the rider to be free to follow his chosen future direction and will also permit the team to focus its efforts on the remaining races of the 2021 season with a replacement rider – yet to be determined."

Vinales joined Monster Energy Yamaha in 2017 after leaving Team Suzuki Ecstar, where he had one victory across his first two seasons in MotoGP.

With Yamaha, Vinales added eight more victories among 24 podiums, finishing third in the championship in 2017 and 2019.

This year, he started the year with a triumph at the Qatar GP and was second as recently as the Dutch TT, where the initial announcement with Yamaha was agreed.

Vinales is sixth in the standings at the time of his departure.

Brad Binder claimed a remarkable victory in a chaotic Austrian Grand Prix, nursing his bike to the finish on slick tyres in pouring rain as changeable conditions wreaked havoc at the Red Bull Ring.

Jorge Martin had won from pole at the same circuit last time out to claim victory in the Styrian Grand Prix and he started from the front of the grid again, the rookie playing his part in an incredible race that saw Binder prevail as his gamble to stay on dry tyres paid off.

It looked as if Francesco Bagnaia was set for an enthralling duel with Marc Marquez for the win in the closing laps, but the rain that had threatened throughout the race finally arrived and instantly shuffled the pack.

A downpour prompted the top six to dive into the pits for a bike swap with four laps remaining yet, while they all switched to a wet set-up, Binder took the risk of staying out.

The Red Bull KTM rider succeeded in keeping his bike upright to triumph for his team at their home circuit, his first win since the Czech Republic last year.

Behind him, Bagnaia eventually surged through the field to take second, running out of time to pass Binder, while Martin also profited from his decision to swap bikes by claiming third and his second successive podium.

Marquez, by contrast, crashed after his trip to the pits to end his hopes of victory, while championship leader Fabio Quartararo finished down in seventh for Yamaha.

Quartararo's lead at the top of the championship, which was 40 points at the start of the race, is now up to 47, with Johann Zarco losing ground as the Ducati rider crashed out at turn 9 before the late drama.

With seven races remaining, Quartararo is the favourite to dethrone Joan Mir, but Sunday's race belonged to Binder after his brave and ultimately brilliant gamble.

Outstanding rookie Jorge Martin feels under pressure to follow up his first MotoGP victory with another at the Austrian Grand Prix after qualifying on pole.

Martin converted pole into a dramatic victory at last week's Styrian GP at the same Red Bull Ring track.

The Spaniard – the 12th rider from his country to win in MotoGP – had set a circuit record in qualifying with a time of 1:22.994. Remarkably, he went even faster on Saturday.

Poor performance in practice saw Martin enter Q1, but he made it through to the second session and went round in 1:22.643 to lead the way again.

The Pramac Racing sensation has not won back-to-back races since he was in Moto3 in 2018 but has a fine record at the Red Bull Ring, with five podiums and wins in two of his past three outings.

Another triumph for Martin – already with 48 points, three shy of this year's three other rookies combined – would make him the first rider since Marc Marquez in 2013 to celebrate consecutive wins in his first year in MotoGP.

The 23-year-old feels the weight of expectation, saying: "I'm not thinking about winning. I feel maybe some pressure because everybody is talking about it.

"But I'm a rookie, I need to learn. For me, if tomorrow [Sunday] I'm in the top five, it will be fantastic because I need to learn.

"These guys have a lot of experience and they understand better than me how to manage the race.

"For sure, today I did not believe that I was going to make the pole. So, I don't want to be too optimistic for tomorrow but I'm one of the strongest for tomorrow.

"I think there are four or five guys who can fight for the win, so we will enjoy a good battle."

Six-time champion Marquez is one of those in contention, having qualified in fifth, along with runaway 2021 leader Fabio Quartararo, who starts from second.

Quartararo had taken Martin's track record before the rookie pole-sitter responded.

The Frenchman is the only rider to have claimed points in every race this season, including three consecutive podiums – a career best.

Should Quartararo make the podium again in Austria, he would equal Christian Sarron's French record of 18 in this category.

Provisional classification

1. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) 1:22.643
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.034s
3. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.420s
4. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.477s
5. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.584s
6. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.677s
7. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.735s
8. Alex Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.780s
9. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) +0.856s
10. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +0.925s
11. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +1.095s
12. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +1.347s

Monster Energy Yamaha have withdrawn rider Maverick Vinales from Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix following his "irregular operation of the motorcycle" in last week's race.

The 26-year-old failed to finish the Styrian Grand Prix due to what he put down to multiple electrical issues.

However, Yamaha said in a statement on Thursday that Vinales' actions "could have potentially caused significant damage to the engine" and have withdrawn the Spaniard from the 11th round of the championship.

Yamaha's decision was taken after "an in-depth analysis of telemetry and data over the last days".

Vinales, who races alongside championship leader Fabio Quartararo, will not be replaced by another rider at the Red Bull Ring.

The nine-time MotoGP race winner announced in June that he is to leave Yamaha a year early at the end of the 2021 season.

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