Jack Miller won the Spanish Grand Prix as the Ducati rider notched his first MotoGP victory since 2016.

The Australian made a superb start to lead and, despite being passed by Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) in the middle stages, he held his nerve in the second half of the race to return to the front.

Miller finished ahead of Ducati team-mate Francesco Bagnaia with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in third spot.

Quartararo slipped down to finish 13th as he surrendered his place at the top of the world championship to Bagnaia.

The Frenchman started poorly as he slipped from pole position to fourth as Miller surged ahead, but like the Portuguese Grand Prix last time out he initially recovered.

Quartararo overtook his rivals on the final corner of successive laps to regain the lead before he pulled one-and-a-half seconds clear at the front.

With 11 laps to go, a third consecutive victory seemingly beckoned for Quartararo, but he dropped two seconds on one lap, allowing Miller to seize the advantage.

Miller was able to hold on until the end as he secured his first MotoGP win since the Dutch TT at Assen in June 2016 and his eighth overall.

Quartararo lost further ground as Italian duo Bagnaia with Morbidelli scrapped it out for second, with the former edging it to make it a one-two for Ducati.

Six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) returned to the Jerez track where he suffered a broken arm last July –  an injury that kept him out for nine months – and came through unscathed.

Marquez, who had escaped injury in a big fall on Saturday and another accident in warm-up, started the race in 14th spot and eventually ended in ninth in his second race since returning.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) claimed fourth place as Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) both secured top-six finishes.

TOP 10

1. Jack Miller (Ducati) 41'05.602
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +1.912
3. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +2.516
4. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) +3.206
5. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +4.256
6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +5.164
7. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +5.651
8. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +7.161
9. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +10.494
10. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +11.776

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 66
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 64
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 50
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 49
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 48

Teams

1. Monster Energy Yamaha 114
2. Ducati 105
3. Suzuki Ecstar 72
4. Pramac Racing 65
5. Repsol Honda 40

What's next?

Quartararo will hope for more luck on home turf at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans on May 16.

 

 

Fabio Quartararo revealed how a change in mindset has helped him enjoy a strong start to the new MotoGP season after making it two wins from three races in 2021.

After prevailing in Qatar in the previous round, the Frenchman came out on top in an action-packed Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimao, despite a shaky start from pole position.

Quartararo – who rejoiced by copying Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal celebration – was aided by Alex Rins crashing out when second, giving the leader breathing space at the front of the field.

"My start was good, but unfortunately others made better. I'm so happy, because honestly, I didn't expect to make that pace. The pace was so strong," Quartararo said.

"I knew we had a little bit of extra pace from Alex. He was running so fast then he made a mistake, but the pace that we set was unexpected from myself.

"But it feels great to enjoy that track a lot. It's a unique track."

The Monster Yamaha rider now leads the way in the standings, having approached the campaign with a more positive attitude. Francesco Bagnaia ended up taking second place in Portugal with reigning MotoGP champion Joan Mir completing the podium.

"Yamaha made a big step compared to last year, but for more mentally I feel stronger," Quartararo explained to the media.

"I've learned a lot – last year, when the bike was not going so great, I was always thinking negatively. I've totally changed – feeling positive always.

"I arrived here and knew that the bike was working, and even those things that weren't working so well, I wasn't thinking about them. To set the pace we did was not easy, but I was focused."

Suzuki Ecstar's Mir recorded his first top-three finish in the embryonic stages of the season, a result he was happy with considering Yamaha have dominated so far with three straight victories.

"I knew that if I was unable to overtake in the last laps, it would be impossible to overtake in the straight," said Mir. "But it was a positive weekend overall.

"This is probably not the best track for me and I was able to finish on the podium, so I'm happy.

"In warm-up I felt really strong, but in the middle of the race I felt some trouble with some parts of the bike. In the last laps I managed to survive and was able to maintain a positive pace.

"This is not the best start to the championship for us, for me. But at both Qatar and here we were fighting for the podium.

"It is our goal to be fighting in Jerez and Le Mans too, then I expect to be stronger, but now I have to survive and score as many points as possible."

Fabio Quartararo overcame a poor start to win a dramatic Portuguese Grand Prix that saw Marc Marquez finish seventh on his long-awaited return.

Marquez said he was ready to "suffer" in his first race since sustaining a season-ending broken arm last July, but the six-time MotoGP champion enjoyed an encouraging comeback after making an early move from sixth to third.

However, it was Quartararo who took the victory, despite dropping down the field from pole position in a pulsating start, after Johann Zarco and Alex Rins crashed out in quick succession at the Algarve International Circuit on Sunday.

Quartararo took over from Zarco as championship leader after sealing back-to-back wins following his triumph in Doha, with Francesco Bagnaia and Joan Mir taking second and third place respectively.

Maverick Vinales could only finish back in 11th place on a great day for Quartararo.

Zarco darted up the inside in a dream start from third on the grid to take the lead from Monster Energy Yamaha rider Quartararo, with Marquez also impressing during the opening laps in Portimao.

Quartararo dropped back to sixth and Marquez caught the back of Mir's Suzuki as he slipped back following a promising beginning to the race.

Rins, who started in second, moved passed Pramac Racing's Zarco in a flash at Turn 13 to hit the front before Jack Miller and Miguel Oliveira - winner on home soil last year - crashed out.

Quartararo had ominously put a disappointing start behind him to apply the pressure, becoming the latest leader of the race with 17 laps to go.

Rins tried his best to cut the gap in second place but spun off 11 laps from the end at Turn 10 after Valentino Rossi had crashed out from 11th place.

Quartararo was in complete control when Rins spun and a second-placed Zarco hit the deck, with Ducati rider Bagnaia holding off Mir for second, having been back in 11th, as the early championship lead changed hands.

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