It would have been a fabulous race for the lead – if only Marc Marquez had stayed home.
The 21-year- old Spanish phenomenon – once again fastest in the practice sessions and the pole position race – simply wowed the 117,001 claimed crowd by motoring away on his Repsol Honda at a half-second per lap after a two-lap back and forth with – surprise, Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi! – to a five-second-plus lead that eventually backed off a touch at the win in his 100th Grand Prix.
An elated Rossi took second after a great battle with his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and Marquez’s partner Dani Pedrosa, while eventually Pedrosa scooped Lorenzo for the final podium position late in the race. Former world champion Lorenzo had to settle for fourth at his 200th GP, crossing the line 8.5 seconds behind Marquez on his 27th birthday.
The win meant that Marquez became the first rider to win the opening four premier class races of the year since Mick Doohan in 1992. Marquez had never previously won at Jerez in the World Championship.
The amazing youngster said, “I started well today, but when I saw that Valentino was trying to pass me on the first corner I knew his intention was to slow down the race so he could control the pace. Riding behind him I realized that I could go faster, so I tried to overtake him as soon as possible. I was surprised, because I wasn’t expecting to open up a gap. Anyway, I am in good form at the moment, but I can see that Dani, Valentino, and Jorge are giving their 100% in every practice and in every race. I’m sure that sooner or later will come a race in which we are unable win, but we will have to learn from that and try to take important points”
Rossi said, “I’m very happy because Jerez is one of my favourite circuits and race weekends, also for the people around the track and the atmosphere. We worked very well during the weekend and improved the bike, also this morning and it looked like I could be quite competitive for the race. I chose the extra-hard tire on the front, it was a risk but I was worried about the medium at the end of the race. The condition of the track today was very bad, the bike slid everywhere and the front kept closing
“I think I did a great job, I did a good start and I tried to stay with Marc but it was impossible. After that I tried to keep my pace and push where I could and where my bike was well balanced and I kept quite constant. At the end Dani arrived but I had just a little bit of desperation in the last lap to stay in front!”
Behind the factory Honda and Yamaha riders Andrea Dovizioso was the top man for the Ducati team in fifth, leading the best battle of the race after a spectacular struggle with Alvaro Bautista, Aleix Espargaro, Bradley Smith, and Pol Espargaro. Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) was relieved to pick up his first points of 2014 after crashing out of the first three races, finishing just 0.112 seconds behind Dovizioso.
Meanwhile, Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) was seventh and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) eighth, the pair of them also reaching the finish line within 0.5 seconds of Dovizioso. The top ten was rounded out by Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP).
Veteran Finnish racer Mika Kallio took an unexpected but well-deserved Moto 2 flag-to-flag victory for the Marc VDS team at the Spanish Jerez circuit after dominating practice and qualifying to grab pole position. He led Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert) and Jonas Folger (AGR Team) across the line.
Behind the front four 2013, Moto3 champ Maverick Viñales (Pons HP 40) got the better of team-mate and fellow lightweight class graduate Luis Salom for fifth place. The top 10 was completed by Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing), Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2).
The first (and closest) race of the day at Jerez went to Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46), who took his second straight victory following at dramatic last-lap, last-corner battle. He ended up ahead of Efren Vazquez (SAXOPRINT RTG) and Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0).
A tight leading group did battle for the honours over the course of the 23 lap race, with Fenati taking the victory by just 0.144s after a 102 km-long battle. The Italian rider held off a strong final lap challenge from Rins to give KTM their 50th Grand Prix triumph.
Also crossing the finishing line in the top five were Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Isaac Viñales (Calvo Team), both around a second off the podium pace.
World championship standings after 4 of 18 races
1. Marc Marquez, Spain, Repsol Honda, 100 points
2. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 72
3. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Yamaha Factory Racing, 61
4. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Ducati Team, 45
5. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 35
6. TIE, Stefan Bradl, Germany, LCR Honda, /Aleix Espargaro, Spain, NGM Mobile Forward Racing, 30
8. Bradley Smith, U.K., Monster Yamaha Tech 3, 28
9. TIE, Andrea Iannone, Italy, Pramac Ducati / Pol Espargaro, Spain, Monster Yamaha Tech 3, 25
Next race, May 18, Le Mans, France.