Sachsenring, Germany – Before the season started, Moto GP rookie Marc Marquez was the topic of choice. General feeling was that yeah, the kid’s fast, yeah he might win a race, but yeah, he’s going to crash his brains out as well.
One race short of half-way into the season, the kid’s won two races, finished on the podium in all but one, and with one exception has saved his crashes for practice. Mind you, he did clock the highest G-loadings ever recorded in one practice crash …
Oh, and after all that he’s leading the championship. Just your average 20-year-old racer.
Marquez’ second win of the year came July 14 at the eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, in a well-judged effort. Granted, both pre-race championship leaders, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo, weren’t able to compete, but Marquez moved to the front after local hero Stefan Bradl and Valentino Rossi had taken turns leading, then masterfully managed a 1.5-second lead from a charging Cal Crutchlow for his win.
Crutchlow, who’s become quite chummy with the young Spaniard, said, “I did absolutely everything I could to close down Marc. I couldn’t have done anything more but credit to him because he didn’t make a mistake, he controlled the gap to me very well and he deserved to win.”
High praise from a tough guy who’s just aching for – and is definitely ready for – his first Moto GP victory. Speaking of tough guy, Crutchlow was hurting from multiple bruises, bumps, scrapes and abrasions after two hard crashes during practice.
Crashes definitely altered the shape of the race. Defending world champ Jorge Lorenzo, after his unbelievable storybook finish with a broken collarbone two weeks ago, suffered a huge highside in practice, landing hard on the broken shoulder, hard enough to bend the titanium plate holding the bone together. That was it, and he flew straight back to the hospital in Barcelona to have things fixed again.
He’s hoping to race at Laguna Seca next weekend. You’ve got to shake your head at how tough these guys are …
That left Dani Pedrosa with an easy chance to extend his series lead, until he suffered an even bigger highside – he caught enough air that several bikes could have gone by under him before he hit. Ironically, he landed on his left shoulder – the same one Lorenzo broke and one Pedrosa has broken three times before.
While the shoulder turned out to be just very painful, with a tiny crack in the collarbone, he also suffered from spells of dizziness and low blood pressure, and the doctors forbade him racing after he tried morning warmup.
Bradl, playing to the home crowd and under pressure from Honda for some results to keep his ride, made a fantastic start to lead, but soon caved under pressure from Rossi, Marquez, and Crutchlow. He kept his fourth place with times similar to the leaders. Rossi looked strong until Marquez squeaked by with a brave pass, then slowly drifted back into Crutchlow’s grip. He said later he was having trouble with left turns for some reason.
The top 10 were rounded out by Alvaro Bautista, Bradley Smith, Andrea Dovizioso on the first Ducati, Aleix Espargaro on the first CRT bike (somebody please give this guy a factory ride! He deserves it!), then Nicky Hayden on the second factory Ducati and Michele Pirro, still filling in for the injured Ben Spies on the satellite Ducati.
Spaniard Jordi Torres took his first-ever Moto 2 victory after a brave T-12 pass on Pol Espargaro, who led most of the race but was bumped back to third on the last lap by Simone Corsi.
Series leader Scott Redding had an off weekend, qualifying on the third row and only managing a seventh-place finish, his poorest result of the year. Still, he maintains a 23-point series lead over Espargaro. Both riders are looking hard for Moto GP rides in 2014.
In a typically mad Moto 3 contest (hey, we’re all teenagers here, we’re invulnerable) Alex Rins took victory from pole position, but only after overhauling championship leader Luis Salom at the penultimate corner on the last lap.
Maverick Viñales, who also battled for the lead throughout, was third to ensure that the top three riders in the championship filled the podium places and completed yet another all-Spanish podium. All three are also on factory KTMs, and Salom’s 14-point lead is certainly not that secure given the racing in the class this season.
World Championship Point Standings (after 8 of 18 races):
1. Marc Marquez, Spain, Repsol Honda, 138 points
2. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 136
3. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 127
4. Cal Crutchlow, U.K., Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, 107
5. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Yamaha Factory Racing, 101
6. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Ducati Team, 74
7. Stefan Bradl, Germany, LCR Honda, 64
8. Alvaro Bautista, Spain, Go&Fun Gresini Honda, 58
9. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Ducati Team, 57
10. Aleix Espargaro, Spain, Power Electronics Aspar ART Aprilia, 52
Next race July 21, Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, California.
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