Coronavirus has caused motorsport events all across the globe to be summarily cancelled, causing racers across disciplines quite a bit of frustration, we’d imagine. However, in today’s technologically advanced world, it was only a matter of time for e-sports to lend a hand, leading to the inaugural #STAYATHOMEGP.
The event had a simple format, with ten Moto GP stars forming the grid on a virtual rendition of the stunning Autodromo del Mugello. Now, though a regular racing season includes quite a bit of pre-season testing, in this case it was the game itself, which had the riders flexing their eye-hand coordination skills from the comfort of their sofas at home!
Qualifying consisted of five minutes of the riders going around the virtual track, the fastest time deciding the grid for the six-lap race. Being the youngest, 20-year-old Iker Lecuona was the people’s favourite to set the fastest time. However, the fastest time was set by Fabio Quartararo, the Frenchman setting a blazing 1:44:115 minutes, followed by Franco Morbidelli and Maverick Vinales. Lecuona, for his part, was sixth, with a time of 1:46:720 minutes.
The results of the qualifying were as under:
The first ever virtual Moto GP race started with Repsol Honda’s Alex Marquez taking lead on the first corner, while Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo suffered a lowside, taking out teammate Maverick Vinales in the process. The younger Marquez kept his lead on the first sector despite a world of pressure from Pramac Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia.
Meanwhile, Quartararo got up and restarted from last, quickly getting up to seventh, while teammate Vinales was still at ninth. Next, after a particularly aggressive manoeuvre to get ahead of Quartararo, Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Iker Lecuona lost his front and crashed out. At the front, Francesco Bagnaia and Alex Marquez were in a constant fight for first, but Marquez stayed ahead at the end of lap 1.
Lap two started with Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir and Quartararo crashing again, while Bagnaia and the younger Marquez were still going neck-and-neck with the elder Marquex shadowing them, and Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins hot on his tail. Quartarao, meanwhile again fought his way up to eighth, followed by Gresini Racing’s Aleix Espargaro and Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Miguel Oliviera. Soon, Alex Rins ran wide, allowing teammate Joan Mir to close the gap. At the end of lap two, Alex Marquez was a good half-a-second ahead of Bagnaia, giving him the fastest lap (till then) of 1:45:154 minutes.
Lap two started with Lecuona going down again, leaving a clear path for Espargaro and, consequently, pushing the entire grid a spot ahead. However, Marc Marquez soon went down as well, leaving Vinales not much worse for the wear.
By the starting of lap 5, Alex Marqez solidified his lead, leaving a 1.1-second gap between him and Bagnaia, with Vinales once again snapping at his heels. However, Bagnaia lost his front and crashed just before the double-apex right hander, pushing Vinales to second, and Quartaro to third. The closing moments of the final lap saw Miguel Oliviera crash, pushing him to the overall eighth place.
At the end of the six-lap race, Alex Marquez took the top spot, a yawning 7.09 seconds ahead of Francesco Bagnaia, with Maverick Vinales rounding off the podium. Fabio Quartararo put in the fastest lap of 1:44:486. This was Alex Marquez’ MotoGP debut, albeit in virtual form.
The final standings were as follows: