Franco Morbidelli becomes the fourth first-time winner in MotoGP this year

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Franco Morbidelli scored his first career MotoGP victory Sunday, winning the San Marino Grand Prix after points leader Fabio Quartararo crashed out of the race.

On his Petronas Yamaha SRT, Morbidelli finished 2.217 seconds ahead of Francesco Bagnaia of Pramac Racing. Joan Mir finished third for Team Suzuki after passing Valentino Rossi on the last lap at the Misano World Circuit.

“The race went just fine,” Morbidelli said after becoming the fourth first-time winner in six MotoGP races this season. “I got a good start. … And then after some laps I saw I was even pulling away, even greater surprise. I just said to myself, just put your rhythm on track and try to do what you can.”

The victory came less than a month after Morbidelli emerged unhurt from a spectacular crash with Johann Zarco in Austria.

Morbidelli beat Maverick Vinales and Quartararo into the first turn as Rossi, the longtime mentor of Morbidelli, jumped from fourth to second on the start.

Quartararo fell a few spots on the start but had climbed to fourth when he crashed on Lap 8 in Turn 4 (just after passing Vinales at Turn 14 a lap earlier).

Seventh-place finisher Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati took over the championship lead by six points (76-70) over Quartararo.

Top 10 finishers: 1. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT); 2. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) + 2.217; 3. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 2.290; 4. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 2.643; 5. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 4.044; 6. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 5.383; 7. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) + 10.358; 8. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) + 11.155; 9. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 10.839; 10. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 12.030

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.