With his first MotoGP victory, Joan Mir opens big points lead for championship

MotoGP Joan Mir victory
JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images
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CHESTE, Spain — Joan Mir won the Grand Prix of Europe for his first MotoGP victory Sunday, extending his points lead with two races to go in the championship.

Mir, who started fifth on the grid, earned his maiden victory after making a pass for the lead over Suzuki teammate Álex Rins with 11 laps to go at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit.

“I’m super happy,” Mir said after becoming the fifth first-time winner this season. “This is what I was missing. I think that this came at the perfect moment.”

The win, which brings the number of victorious MotoGP riders to nine this season, allowed the Spaniard to open a 37-point gap to Rins and Fabio Quartararo, who finished 14th after crashing on the first lap.

Maverick Vinales, who started from the pits after being penalized for changing an engine, finished 13th. He is fourth in the standings, 41 points behind Mir.

The series will return to the Ricardo Tormo track again next weekend, and the season finale will take place Nov. 8 in Portugal.

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Rins said a mistake changing gears forced him to run long at a corner, allowing Mir to make the pass for the lead.

Pole-sitter Pol Espargaró fell off the pace early and finished third. Valentino Rossi, who returned after missing two races with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) did not finish because of a mechanical failure.

Mir, who celebrated by flying the Spanish flag on his victory lap, was the ninth winner in 12 races this season and the fifth first-time winner. Six-time series champion Marc Márquez has been out since being injured in a crash at the season opener.