After the third round of the Moto GP world championship, Spaniards have won all three races and also dominate the top of the standings.
To cement Spain’s current top position in world racing, the Moto 2 and Moto 3 races at Jerez were also won by Spaniards, and likewise those two classes are headed by Spanish racers.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa rode a brilliant race to take his first victory of the 2013 season, leading from the sixth lap and squeaking into second in the standings (after three of 18 races) one point ahead of defending world champ Jorge Lorenzo and three behind his team-mate, Moto GP “rookie” Marc Marquez.
Given Pedrosa’s brilliant ride, it’s a shame that most of the attention in the race will go to Lorenzo’s superb ride into third, losing second on the last corner of the last lap to Marquez in a barging, banging collision that pushed Lorenzo to the last step of the podium.
Lorenzo was far from a happy camper, but from this observer’s perspective, it was a typical racing incident – Lorenzo didn’t close the door hard enough, Marquez jammed in, and they basically had to fight their way through together. Tough marbles for Lorenzo, tough but honest move by Marquez.
For sure, the gloves will be off when the new guy – Marquez – gets anywhere near his competition in future.
It was a tough race for everyone, with dramatically changing track conditions from day to day – and for that matter, morning to afternoon each day – and almost universal complaints that the Bridgestone front tires were too soft.
Lorenzo especially seemed to suffer badly from this in the race, his usual metronomically precise style clearly being sacrificed to wider sweeping lines in an attempt to ease the wear on the front hoop.
Pedrosa said, “It was a beautiful race. I was able to ride the bike well, even though it was difficult because the tires were really on the limit. I couldn’t push too hard because of that, so I had to ride carefully.”
Marquez attempted to be diplomatic about the contact and pass on Lorenzo, saying, “I want to apologize to Jorge, because it was a racing incident – a last-lap move that happens when you are on the limit. The most important thing is that we both finished the race, and I hope that that’s the end of it.”
Don’t bet on it, Marc …
After Lorenzo cooled off, his comment was, “I think I made two mistakes in the race, in the start I started really badly and in the last corner, I thought Marquez was further behind than he was so I didn’t take a defensive line.”
The rest of the race – other than that last lap the whole race, really – was rather processional. Valentino Rossi took a lonely fourth after some early struggles with Cal Crutchlow (who, riding hurt after two practice crashes, had a fantastic ride of his own), followed by Alvaro Bautista, a lonely Nicky Hayden as top Ducati rider, then Andrea Dovizioso, Aleix Espargaro – who continues to do a great job on his Aprilia ART “claiming rules” bike – and Bradley Smith, Crutchlow’s companion on the second Tech 3 satellite Yamaha.
There were a lot of crashes, the hot afternoon temperatures of the race making the track greasy as well as causing wear issues with the front tires. Stefan Bradl, Andrea Iannone, Lukas Pesek, Randy de Puniet, and Yonny Hernandez all hit the dirt, fortunately without any injuries.
Bradl, on one of the rare satellite Hondas, should be watching his back for his ride next season, as that’s two out of three races he’s crashed so far this year.
The Moto 2 race was noticeably less dramatic than usual, with Esteve Rabat grabbing his first pole and Moto 2 victory ahead of Brit Scott Reading, moving him one point ahead of Reading in the points chase.
The Moto 3 contest was rather more dramatic – as usual – ending in a red flag and won by Maveric Vinales, keeping the young Spaniard in the lead for the world title over countryman Luis Salom by only four points.
MotoGP World Championship Point Standings (after three of 18 races):
1. Marc Marquez, Spain, Repsol Honda, 61 points
2. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 58
3. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 57
4. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Yamaha Factory Racing, 43
5. Cal Crutchlow, U.K., Tech 3 Monster Yamaha, 35
6. Alvaro Bautista, Spain, Go & Fun Honda Gresini, 28
7. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Ducati Team Racing, 26
8. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Ducati Team Racing, 24
9. Aleix Espargaro, Spain, Power Electronics Aspar Aprilia ART, 17
10. Andrea Iannone, Italy, Energy TI Pramac Racing Ducati, 13
Next race, May 19, Le Mans, France.