Valentino Rossi returned to the MotoGP winner’s circle with victory in the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday, but runaway championship leader Marc Marquez suffered a rare crash and was only 15th.
The win at Misano was the first in 15 months for the 35-year-old Yamaha rider and ended Honda’s 100 per cent record for the season.
Spaniard Marquez, who started on the second row and was chasing a record- equalling 12th victory in 13 races this year, lost control of his bike with 19 laps to go as the machine slipped out from beneath him under braking.
The 21-year-old then struggled to get the Honda started again with marshals pushing him along.
Yamaha’s first win of the year was also a one-two with Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, winner at Misano for the last three years, second for the fourth race in a row after starting on pole position. Marquez’s Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa finished third.
“We knew that to try to win here we needed a hand,” Rossi grinned after crossing the line 1.578 seconds clear of his team-mate. “And it was fantastic. To come back with the victory, the first of the season, and to make it in front of all the crowd is something very special.”
The Italian’s last win was at Assen in the Netherlands in June last year and yesterday’s was the nine-time world champion’s 81st in the top category and 107th in all classes. It also took his career points tally to a record 5,012.
Marquez’s crash, which left him battling back from 20th and last, was his first big race mistake of a season he has dominated and his first fall since the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello in June last year.
He will now have to wait until the next race in Spain, on 28 September, to equal Australian Mick Doohan’s 1997 record of 12 wins in a season in the top category.