Jack Miller wins chaotic flag-to-flag race

The 27-lap race was declared dry for the start, but early rain led to the MotoGP’s first flag-to-flag Grand Prix since Brno 2017 – with Miller prevailing for long laps despite a double penalty during the Day was catastrophic for world champion Suzuki.

Miller took the lead from the Yamaha duo Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo at the start from third place on the grid, while Marc Marquez moved up to fourth place behind Takaaki Nakagami.

On the second lap, Vinales took the lead from Miller into the downhill La Chapelle right-hand bend.

The rain fell heavier on lap three, and Miller bravely stormed back to the lead early on lap four, while Vinales dropped to fifth.

Despite the rain, Quartararo and Miller overtook the lead on the fourth tour, with the Yamaha rider charging past the Garage Vert double-apex right-hand bend.

Miller retaliated in the next corner and fell back to fourth place on lap five when he went off the track at the Blue Esses after relinquishing the lead in the Dunlop chicane to Quartararo earlier in the Tour.

A moment for Suzuki’s Alex Rins – jumping up from 15th grid position at the start – in the Musee left-hand turn, Marquez enabled third place on lap five, with Quartararo leading the Honda driver, Rins and Miller in the pit lane on lap five to change their wet bikes.

A drama ensued in the pit lane when both Miller and Ducati teammate Francesco Bagnaia received double penalties for long laps for speeding in the pit lane while Quartararo stopped on the wrong side of the Yamaha pits – earning him a long lap penalty.

Since Quartararo lost time when switching to his other Yamaha, Marquez took the lead in the pit lane in front of Rins.

However, Rins’ podium hopes were dashed seconds later when he crashed in the Dunlop chicane, while World Champion team-mate Joan Mir recently dropped out of the Grand Prix before entering the pit lane.

As the champion of the flag-to-flag races, Marquez immediately opened a two-second lead over Quartararo, although the Yamaha rider had nothing to oppose the Spaniard.

But Marquez crashed on lap nine in the last corner and put Quartararo back in the lead from Miller – who had served his long lap penalties on laps nine and ten.

Despite the penalty, Miller’s pace on the soft wet rear tire compared to Quartararo on the moderately wet rear tire was such that after his second long lap he was just over a second behind the Yamaha rider.

Miller did Quartararo light work at La Chapelle on lap 12, with Quartararo doing his long lap – outside of Garage Vert – on the same tour.

Miller extended his lead to well over four seconds for the final stages and was not in danger until the checkered flag to secure his second win of the 2021 season.

As the rain subsided and the track dried out in the latter stages of the race, Quartararo’s pace dropped significantly from a cliff as he overused his soft front tire and Pramac’s Zarco raced towards the Yamaha on lap 21.

Without drive-grip from the last corner, Zarco raced past Quartararo to gain a second that he did not want to let go of until the checkered flag on home soil.

Quartararo stayed in third place, taking a point lead in the championship over Bagnaia, who recovered from his previous penalties and finished 16th on the grid ahead of 2020 Le Mans winner Danilo Petrucci on the Tech 3 KTM in fourth

Alex Marquez used the conditions to move from 19th place on the grid to sixth with his LCR Honda, ahead of Nakagami and Pol Espargaro’s factory Honda, with Iker Lecuona (Tech 3) and Vinales completing the top 10.

Valentino Rossi slipped to 11th place on his Petronas SRT Yamaha, while teammate Franco Morbidell crashed on the first lap in the Blue esses, but rose again and landed in 16th place.

Avintia rookie Luca Marini finished 12th in his first wet MotoGP race ahead of Brad Binder from KTM, the other Avintia rookie Enea Bastianini and Pramac deputy Tito Rabat.

Marc Marquez returned after his earlier crash, but crashed a second time on lap 18, with KTM rider Miguel Oliveira also being out – and Rins crashing for the second time.

The Aprilias of Aleix Espargaro and Lorenzo Savadori were supplanted with mechanical dramas.

Race results: