France’s Fabio Quartararo produced a thrilling ride to claim a resounding victory at the Catalonia MotoGP on Sunday, earning his third win of the season which sends him top of the world championship standings.
Joan Mir came through to take second and is now eight points behind Quartararo in the standings while Alex Rins completed the podium.
The race began in dramatic fashion with Andrea Dovizioso, who led the title race by a single point from the Frenchman and Maverick Vinales, taken out in the opening lap after tangling with Johann Zarcho.
Quartararo, on a Yamaha, won the opening two races of the season but has struggled since then, failing to reach the podium in the last five races.
But the Frenchman, who showed signs of a return to form in the last race at Emilia Romagna when he came fourth, was back to his best in Barcelona.
“The race was very hard for me,” said Quartararo after the race. “I am not completely 100 percent but I went step by step and I am very happy with this win.
“I suffered in my head a lot in the last month, not getting on the podium, it wasn’t easy.”
Starting from pole, alongside the fellow Yamahas of Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi, he set a fierce pace which put the pressure on the field, especially those trying to close him down.
One who suffered was Rossi who had taken advantage of a wobble by Morbidelli with 11 laps to go to move into second spot. Two laps later, however, trying to make up ground on the flying Quartararo, the 41-year-old slid into the gravel on turn two, his race over.
Morbidelli, who won in San Marino two races ago, looked good to take second but could not hold off Mir who swept past him with two laps to go. He then lost a place on the podium as Rins, who started down in 13th, put the gloss on an excellent race.
Quartararo heads the standings with 108 points, eight clear of Mir.
Further back, South African rider Brad Binder took 11th place on his KTM.
Earlier, however, his younger brother Darryn stole the show on a solid day for the Binder family, taking his first win in the Moto3 division as two of the main world title contenders, Albert Arenas and John McPhee, both had to abandon.
The 22-year-old Binder started way back in 20th position on the grid but came through to take the victory ahead of the Italians Tony Arbolino and Dennis Foggia.
“It is an extraordinary feeling. I have waited a long time but today I did everything I could,” said Binder, who rides for the CIP Green Power team.
Japanese rider Ai Ogura finished 11th and leads the championship, three points ahead of Arenas.