Monterey, California – Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez won the Moto GP at the Laguna Seca circuit in strong style, his second race win in a row and his third of the season. That solidified the series rookie’s lead in the standings at the season’s half-way point,16 points ahead of his team-mate and fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa.
Behind him, Germany’s Stefan Bradl celebrated his first Moto GP podium in second on his LCR Honda after grabbing his first pole position, while Valentino Rossi upheld the Yamaha banner with a third, fighting off Alvaro Bautista on the Go&Fun Gresini Honda.
Bautista was a close fourth, well clear of Pedrosa in fifth, who was followed by 2012 champ Jorge Lorenzo, Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha), Nicky Hayden (Ducati), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), and Hector Barbera, first CRT bike home on his FTR-Kawasaki.
The race was relatively incident-free, and without a great deal of passing. Still, there was close competition right down the line and early on, with Bradl pulling away from Rossi and Marquez, the young Spaniard did an unbelievable pass on Rossi at the Corkscrew.
It was a near-carbon copy of Rossi’s famous in-the-dirt pass of Casey Stoner in 2008; Rossi appeared to go a bit wide as Marquez tried him on the outside, forcing Marquez out off the pavement and Rossi himself up onto the curbing. Somehow they both held on, and Marquez got back on the pavement in front and motored off in pursuit of Bradl.
Marquez and Rossi joked about the pass later, Marquez saying, “I already said to him [Rossi] that I will pay the copyright!” commented Marquez of the overtake. “When I saw the video of 2008 I thought ‘that is impossible’. But when I was there I let off the brakes a little because there was no space and I passed in the same place. The overtake that he did in 2008 was better because [then] it was different, but okay I enjoyed it too!”
Bradl stayed cool after being caught, and despite ending up 2.2 seconds behind Marquez at the flag, he had double that space over Rossi, who in turn squeaked out Bautista by only a 10th of a second.
Rossi said, “I’m so happy about this podium. It’s more important and positive than Sachsenring because we suffered a bit with the Yamaha here … I tried to push and push constantly without making any mistakes. I had a big, big moment with the front where I had to pick up the bike with the elbow so I thought, ‘that is a sign for a podium!’, as I didn’t crash at that point.”
Pedrosa and Lorenzo had brave rides, both riders suffering from injury. Lorenzo has had two operations on his left collarbone in two weeks, while Pedrosa cracked his (and got a serious whack to the head as well) only a week ago at the Sachsenring in Germany.
Farther back, Nicky Hayden got the better of team-mate Andrea Dovizioso in the Ducati wars in his last appearance at Laguna on a Ducati Moto GP bike. He passed Dovi twice, the first time in a hair-raising incident on the front “straight” when the two banged quite hard, Hayden’s clutch lever being knocked out of position and Dovi waving an apology as he passed his team-mate back.
This race starts the mid-summer break, with the Moto GP circus reconvening at Indianapolis in a month.
World Championship Point Standings after nine of 18 races):
1. Marc Marquez, Spain, Repsol Honda, 163 points
2. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 147
3. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Racing, 137
4. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Yamaha Racing, 117
5. Cal Crutchlow, U.K., Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, 116
6. Stefan Bradl, Germany, LCR Honda, 84
7. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Ducati Team, 81
8. Alvaro Bautista, Spain, Go&Fun Gresini Honda, 71
9. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Ducati Team, 65
10. Aleix Espargaro, Spain, Power Electronics Aspar ART, 52
Next race August 18, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana.