BRNO, CZECH REPUBLIC – Spaniard Marc Marquez continued to destroy the idea of a “rookie” in Moto GP with another comfortable win. His fifth victory of the season and his fourth in a row makes a bit of a mockery of the multiple world champions he’s racing against.
Once again, at the race in the Czech Republic’s fabulous Brno circuit, the Repsol Honda pair of Marquez and Dani Pedrosa plus Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo were really the only riders in contention for the top spot. Tech 3/Monster Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow, fresh from signing for Ducati for 2014-15, grabbed pole and was close to the leaders early on, but crashed out. He managed to restart, but didn’t score any points.
Lorenzo qualified on the second row, but made a demon start and led the first 2/3 of the race ahead of Marquez and Pedrosa. He opened an initial gap that slowly closed, and late in the race Marquez pounced; Lorenzo fought back and Marquez stalked him again, finally passing him for keeps. With two laps left Pedrosa also squeezed by Lorenzo, giving the Repsol Honda team a 1-2 finish.
Marquez said, “I’m so happy! Before we came here I didn’t expect (to) win, … This was a very hard fought win and I enjoyed myself a lot. The battle with Jorge was really good!”
His team-mate said, with slight regret, “I am very happy with the result, generally speaking, because after all the problems with my injury and the doubts we’ve had at the last few races, we took a big step forward … I think that I made my final attack one lap too late. If I had passed Jorge one lap earlier, maybe I would have been in with a chance of the victory … I just needed another lap in order to catch him!”
Following the top three came Valentino Rossi and Alvaro Bautista, who brawled most of the race, Rossi coming out on top after many back and forth passes. The rest of the top 10 were Stefan Bradl, who’s just signed a continuation of his contract with LCR Honda for 2014, the three Ducatis of Andrea Dovizioso, Nicky Hayden, and Andrea Iannone, and the top CRT rider, Aleix Espargaro.
While the Moto GP was terrific for the top three spots, the Moto 2 race was perhaps one of the best half-dozen races this writer has ever seen. Even down to the last lap, any of five riders could have won, and the amount of scary-close passing was astounding.
Mika Kallio, a previous victor in 125 and 250 GP racing and a veteran of two seasons in 500 GP / Moto GP, won in Moto 2 for the first time (no doubt helping his search for a ride in 2014). He celebrated his victory at the end of a dramatic and closely-fought battle with as many as 10 other riders who wanted the top spot on the podium.
Eventually, the Finn shared the podium with Takaaki Nakagami and Swiss Tom Luthi (coming back from a bad early-season accident), as championship leader Scott Redding limited the points loss by finishing four places behind Pol Espargaro.
Redding had a terrible qualifying session, struggling with chatter on his bike, but had a superb race, fighting back from 14th in qualifying to run as high as sixth and eventually finishing eighth. His championship rival Pol Espargaro qualified second, but was never able to control the race and was lucky to finish fourth.
The net result was that Redding lost four points in his series lead, but still carries a 21 point lead into next weekend’s race in the U.K. (there are 25 points for a win.
The Moto 3 race was nearly as exciting as the Moto 2 race as Moto 3 championship leader Luis Salom returned to winning ways despite still recovering from a broken heel. He picked up his fifth victory of 2013 at Brno on the final lap with a daring pass, and was able to open up a small cushion as four rivals squabbled over second place behind him.
The race itself was superb; 10 riders fought over first for most of the contest, 10 more were fighting over 11th, and the final 13 squabbled madly over 21st. It was great stuff.
Salom is still in the lead for the Moto 3 title ahead of Maverick Vinales and Alez Rins (second and fourth today), but his 14 point lead is hardly insurmountable.
Most noteworthy ride of the day was probably from Jack Miller on the Carreta Technology FTR Honda. Heavily out-horsepowered by the mostly KTM opposition and riding with a collar bone he broke only a week ago in a huge highside, the tough young Aussie hung with the leading group, fading only in the last few laps and finishing seventh. He’s on a lot of lists for rides for 2014.
Moto GP World Championship standings after 11 of 18 races
1. Marc Marquez, Spain, Repsol Honda, 213 points
2. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 187
3. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 169
4. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Yamaha Factory Racing, 143
5. Cal Crutchlow, U.K., Tech 3 / Monster Yamaha, 127
6. Stefan Bradl, Germany, LCR Honda, 103
7. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Ducati Team, 96
8. Alvaro Bautista, Spain, Go&Fun Honda Gresini, 92
9. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Ducati Team, 80
10. Aleix Espargaro, Spain, Power Electronics Aspar Aprilia, 62