Rookie Alex Marquez has taken victory in MotoGP’s first virtual race among pro riders, winning the inaugural round of the #StayAtHomeGP at Mugello.
The Repsol Honda rider led almost from start to finish – after carnage at the first corner between the pre-race favourites – to win from Pecco Bagnaia by over seven seconds.
Yamaha riders and 2021 teammates Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo went into the race among the bookies’ favourites thanks to considerable gaming experience, but contact between the pair at Mugello’s Turn 1 saw both go down. Vinales recovered to third, holding off pole-sitter Quartararo at the end of the race.
Speaking afterwards, reigning Moto2 champion Marquez admitted that the main focus of the event was more about having fun than the more serious nature of some other esports races taking place during the coronavirus pandemic – but conceded that that didn’t make winning any less important.
What a result for the reigning Moto2 Champion 👏 pic.twitter.com/eCTDZZAPg8
— Repsol Honda Team (@HRC_MotoGP) March 29, 2020
“Fantastic! What a result!” Marquez said. “It was a really funny event with all of the other riders and I am 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. Let’s hope that everyone continues to follow the advice of the doctors and scientists so that we can return to a more normal life, seeing friends and family, enjoying the outside and going racing.”
Marquez’s elder brother Marc, himself not an experienced gamer, came home in fifth, ahead of Suzuki duo Alex Rins and Joan Mir and Red Bull KTM Tech3 pairing Miguel Oliverira and Iker Lecuona, while Aleix Espargaro rounded out the top ten.
MotoGP’s racers will continue to deliver virtual pro rider races alongside their own pro gamer series while racing remains suspended, with the next race scheduled for Sunday April 12.