Valentino Rossi extended his MotoGP lead over Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo to 23 points at the San Marino Grand Prix yesterday, despite a strategy blunder that handed victory to Spaniard Marc Marquez.
Rossi had a record 92,000 home crowd on their feet and cheering as he took the lead at Misano’s Marco Simoncelli circuit in eastern Italy, but the joy was short-lived in a thrilling dry-wet-dry race involving two pit stops.
With Marquez’s Honda team pitting the reigning champion to switch bikes again with 10 laps remaining, Rossi and Lorenzo — who had started on pole — stayed out.
Lorenzo eventually came in with eight laps to go and then crashed out on the next lap just as Rossi, who ended up fifth, was brought in for his switch back to a bike with slick tires.
Britain had two riders on the podium instead of the familiar faces, with Bradley Smith second for Tech3 Yamaha after staying on slick tires during the rain shower and coming through from 19th place.
“Everyone told me it would rain for a little spot and then it would disappear. It was raining and I saw there was 20 laps to go, so I thought it could dry and they’d be on wets that would be ruined in the end,” Smith said. “In the end I thought: ‘I’ve already stayed out four laps longer than I should, so I’m in it for the long haul.’”
Scott Redding’s first podium was even more remarkable, with the Marc VDS Honda rider having to pick up his machine after a fall on the seventh lap.
Rossi now has 247 points to Lorenzo’s 224, with Marquez on 184 with five rounds remaining.
“I was behind the Yamahas and was trying to check how was the asphalt and the tires, and I saw that Lorenzo and Valentino had big [tire] degradation,” Marquez said. “I said now is the time to change the tires and when I changed then I saw that the track was completely dry, but it was difficult to understand.”
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