Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) (AFP)
Fabio Quartararo became the first French rider to win a Moto Grand Prix since 1999 when he took the flag during the season’s opening race in Spain on Sunday.
Quartararo, 21, who rides for the Yamaha satellite team, had started from pole position and his biggest threat, reigning world champion Marc Marquez, crashed on lap 20.
“It’s the happiest day of my life,” said an ecstatic Quartararo as his team celebrated.
Marquez had already gotten off the track in the fourth lap of a race that took place in sweltering conditions, but just managed to hold on and come back.
But the worst was to come in the 20th lap when the Spaniard, who was third, lost control and got out of his bike which then seemed to hit him as the man and the machine bounced off the inner shale.
The first race of a season delayed and truncated by the coronavirus pandemic took place without spectators and runners observed a minute of silence before the race in memory of the victims of the virus.
Great Italian MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi came out on lap 19th in tenth place, crushing his hopes of scoring points in the first race of the season.
Rossi, the nine-time world champion, 41, has already learned that he will be replaced in Yamaha’s main squad next year when Quartararo leaves Yamaha SRT.
There was some success for the Rossi family when their half-brother Luca Marini won the Moto2 race in Jerez.
© 2020 AFP