Reigning MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo put his early-season speed issues behind him as he cruised to victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Yamaha rider dominated the race and finished more than five seconds ahead of fellow Frenchman Johann Zarco of Ducati-Pramac.
Zarco was the beneficiary when Spaniard Joan Mir, on a Suzuki, and Australian Jack Miller, on a Ducati, collided battling for second place in the closing stages.
“This morning I felt very good during the practice laps but I was surprised to be so fast during the race,” said Quartararo, who started on the second row of the grid.
“I pushed myself to the limit,” he said. “I made a great start and I’m happy to win for the first time this season.”
Quartararo’s first victory since the British Grand Prix last August, lifted him to joint first in the standings, tied on 69 points with Spaniard Alex Rins who started on the eighth row of the grid on his Suzuki.
Spaniard Aleix Espargaro of Aprilia finished third and climbed to third in the standings three points off the leaders.
Zarco said he was “impressed” by Quartararo’s dominance.
“It’s a great French victory but unfortunately it’s not mine,” he said.
Zarco has never won a race in MotoGP. He has finished runner-up nine times, twice behind his compatriot.
Italy’s Enea Bastianini (Ducati-Gresini), who led the championship before the race, dropped to fourth in the standings after crashing out on Sunday.
Rins, who started 23rd on the grid, got off to a great start and made a series of overtaking moves to finish just off the podium.
Mir started in the lead but Quartararo overtook him on lap four before steadily extending his lead.
Mir was then caught by Zarco and Miller. But when the Australian braked too late in a corner he lost control and slid off taking Mir, who had been on his outside, into a gravel trap with him.
Zarco then held off Espargaro at the line.
Behind them, the two Marquez brothers both on Hondas, battled hard in the closing stages repeatedly swapping places before Marc finished fifth and Alex sixth, just ahead of Italian Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati), who recovered from a heavy crash in practice that sent him to hospital.
American Joe Roberts won a Moto2 race interrupted by a red flag after a string of riders slid off the track one after another at the same corner. None was hurt.
Spaniard Sergio Garcia won in Moto3, edging compatriot Jaume Masia with Japanese rider Ayumu Sasaki third. Garcia moved a point ahead of Italian Dennis Foggia in the standings.
The next race is the Spanish GP on May 1.