Jorge Lorenzo has celebrated being kept on by Yamaha for next season by winning the Spanish MotoGP at Jerez in commanding style to give himself a special present on the eve of his 28th birthday.
The two-time world champion, winning his first MotoGP since the Japanese one last year, came home on Sunday well clear of world champion Marc Marquez on a Honda.
His win delivered a perfect result for former Spanish King Juan Carlos, who was watching from the stands along with 120,000 other spectators.
Marquez, who rode here despite a broken finger on his left hand, held off Italian legend and series leader Valentino Rossi, who had the consolation of becoming the first rider to achieve the 200 podium mark – 15-time world champion and fellow Italian Giacomo Agostini, who was watching from the pits, is next best with 159.
Rossi made a good start moving from sixth to fourth, in stark contrast to compatriot Andrea Iannone who paid for fiddling with his clutch on the start line and dropped from the front row to ninth – while another Italian, Andrea Dovizioso, went into the gravel and slipped from eighth to last although he was to recover and finish in the top 10.
Lorenzo had no such problems getting away with Marquez on his tail, with Rossi moving into third with 24 laps remaining.
The order remained the same, with neither Marquez – whose Honda team had modified the handlebar to facilitate his broken pinky finger — nor Rossi able to challenge Lorenzo.
With just over half of the race gone, the leading trio maintained their positions with Marquez seemingly holding Rossi off with ease.
However, with 10 laps remaining the irrepressible Italian then began to make his move and began eating into the world champion’s advantage over him.
An enthralling battle continued – with Lorenzo safe as houses out in front – as initially Rossi looked odds on to overcome Marquez before the young Spaniard fought back and halted Rossi’s progress.