Álex Márquez wins the first virtual MotoGP™ahead of Bagnaia and Viñales
Honda's MotoGP™rookie Álex Márquez is king of the pixels in the inaugural virtual Grand Prix on the Mugello Circuit after a dramatic crash-filled race sees the Spaniard cruise to victory.
The 2020 MotoGP™ campaign might be on ice for the foreseeable future, but that hasn't stopped the sport's best riders from scratching their competitive itch in the virtual realm.
In a world first, Honda's Álex Márquez won the inaugural, virtual #StayAtHome MotoGP™ race ahead of Pramac Racing Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia and Yamaha's Maverick Viñales, after a lap one crash-fest saw real world team-mates Fabio Quartararo and Viñales hit the dirt.
For the first time ever, nine riders from seven MotoGP™ teams, with 165 Grand Prix wins between them, went head-to-head on the MotoGP™19 video game from the comfort of their own homes.
Proceedings started with a five-minute qualifying session on the famed Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello circuit and Quartararo, who claimed six poles last year in his debut season racing for Yamaha, sealed his first virtual pole. When the lights went out and the race started, though, it was Álex Márquez who took the lead in the opening stages, as Quartararo lost the front end and crashed out at the first corner, taking out team-mate Viñales in what proved to be a chaotic first lap.
At the end of Lap 1, it was a drag race along the long start finish straight between Álex Márquez and Francesco Bagnaia, as behind Suzuki team-mates Álex Rins and Joan Mir came together in a dramatic collision.
Six-time MotoGP™ champion Marc Márquez held station in third during the opening couple of laps (apparently the Honda rider had only played the MotoGP™19 video game a day before the race) and was followed closely by a recovering Viñales.
Viñales's recovery ride soon ended, as the Spanish rider binned it on the third lap, only to be followed into the gravel by Marc Márquez. Meanwhile, his younger brother continued to battle for the win with Bagnaia, the leading pair pulling a gap of over eight seconds on third.
Bagnaia sensationally crashed on the penultimate lap, after suffering a tank-slapper, handing Alex Márquez a huge lead and a convincing victory in his de-facto debut race for Honda in the premier class of motorcycle racing. The result sees the Repsol Honda Team become the first official MotoGP™ team to win races in the real and virtual worlds. Bagnaia recovered to finish second, followed home by Vinales, with Quartararo fighting back to claim the fastest lap and a solid fourth.
"Fantastic. What a result," commented race winner Alex Márquez. "It was a really fun event with all of the other riders and I'm really pleased to win my first race. I found a good setting with the RC213V, which let me race how I wanted to and I knew I had a few different lines for when I needed. Even at just six laps you really needed to stay focused, because with one small mistake it can go very wrong. I enjoyed it a lot and I hope everyone who watched also had a good time."
Virtual #StayAtHome MotoGP™ results
- Alex Márquez (ESP) 10m 38.643s
- Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) +7.093s
- Maverick Viñales (ESP) +8.496s
- Fabio Quartararo (FRA) +9.968s
- Marc Márquez (ESP) +14.416s
- Álex Rins (ESP) +19.548s
- Joan Mir (ESP) +23.247s
- Aleix Espargaró (ESP) +29.702s
- Iker Lecuona (ESP) DNF