Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo is a MotoGP™ race winner once again after getting the better of Reale Avintia's Tito Rabat in the closing stages of Sunday's Michelin® Virtual British Grand Prix. Lorenzo made the most of his only wildcard appearance in 2020 by taking his first victory in the blue of Yamaha since Valencia 2016.
As we've become accustomed to by now, the opening lap wasn't short of drama with the first incident coming when LCR Idemitsu Honda's Takaaki Nakagami wiped out Lorenzo through Turns 2 and 3. Petronas Yamaha SRT's Fabio Quartararo had taken the holeshot but he was quickly dropped to second when Nakagami slipped through as the group powered down the Hangar Straight.
Quartararo was keen to make up for his earlier mistake, possibly in the end too keen, as he then joined Lorenzo in the gravel trap when the front end of his Yamaha M1 folded. The Frenchman's crash elevated Pramac Racing's Francesco Bagnaia to second place, with the Italian needing a rostrum finish to move to the top of the virtual standings. However, that target slipped further into the distance when the Italian also tucked the front; a surprising mistake from the Red Bull Ring victor.
As we completed the opening lap, Nakagami lead with Rabat and Ducati Team's Michelle Pirro chasing him down in an unlikely opening trio. Quartararo was starting to make some progress back through the field after his first lap crash, but he had another set back when crashing after contact with Rabat. Four laps completed and Lorenzo was starting to find his feet, squeezing past Pirro for third place.
Nakagami reached lap five and half race distance without making a single mistake, that was to change. The Japanese rider's hopes of a debut MotoGP™ win evaporated when he crashed out whilst braking hard into The Loop. It handed Rabat, much to the Spaniard's excitement. By this time five-time World Champion Lorenzo was up to second and had his eyes firmly set on the race lead.
It took the Yamaha man two laps to close in on the rear wheel of Rabat's Ducati and a further lap to properly dispatch him. Once he had clear air ahead of him, he began to break clear and eventually came across the line two seconds clear of Rabat on the final lap to clinch victory in MotoGP™ just a handful of months after announcing his retirement.
Quartararo clinched the final place on the virtual podium after diving past Nakagami on the last lap to take a debut virtual podium. Pirro completed the top five, ahead of Aprilia's Lorenzo Savadori, a disappointed Bagnaia and Team Suzuki Ecstar's Joan Mir.