Marc Marquez (above) has won Sunday’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, becoming the youngest ever back-to-back race winner in MotoGP.
The Repsol Honda Team rider extended his championship lead while LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl celebrated a first premier class podium finish from pole position. Valentino Rossi held off Alvaro Bautista for the final rostrum spot.
“Before I came here, I was expecting to struggle more. From the TV, this circuit looked so tricky. Since FP1 I have felt so good. Next time I’ll be able to learn where all of the bumps are and everything – yesterday I found a new bump, when I crashed at Turn 6! Anyway, today in the race it was so good.
At the beginning, with a full fuel tank, I was little bit scared because – with all of those bumps – it’s so easy to lose the front. I overtook Valentino (Rossi) then caught Bradl; I stayed behind him for about 12 laps, then tried to pass him to open up a gap. I’m very, very happy because it’s a new circuit and I’ve got 25 points. I’m very happy because it’s great to go into the summer break with this result.”
On Saturday, Bradl had stormed to a maiden pole position while Marquez suffered a crash in qualifying. On Sunday, the Spaniard patiently followed the German before pulling off a clean manoeuvre at the end of the 19th lap. Five riders failed to make the distance at the notoriously difficult anti-clockwise circuit, the shortest on the calendar.
Marquez dropped to fourth after a poor start, but stayed ahead of Bautista in the early stages and crucially pulled off a confident pass on Rossi at the world-famous Corkscrew corner. He soon homed in on Bradl, overtaking the German and winning by 2.2 seconds.
In doing so, Marquez won for the second time within the space of a week and steals former double champion Freddie Spencer’s record of being the youngest MotoGP rider to triumph in consecutive Grands Prix. Furthermore, he makes history by becoming the first rookie rider to win at Laguna Seca.
Bradl made a clean getaway allowing the LCR Honda rider to head the field from his first ever pole in the top class. By the 17th tour Marquez was only two tenths of a second behind. finally overtaking Bradl on lap 19.
Rossi, who had famously overtaken Casey Stoner at the Corkscrew five years ago, was this time passed in the same place by Marquez going off track on the descent, barely missing the grating on the inside. Holding off a significant attack from Bautista over the closing laps, the Spaniard briefly edged ahead before the final corner, but was kept behind. Another third place for Rossi sees him jump ahead of Cal Crutchlow for fourth in the standings.
“It’s a great result for us, we did a good job all across the weekend. Of course expectations were high after I had pole yesterday, but I knew I had good speed and that I could be fast from the beginning. I tried to push from the start and I think I did that very well.
“I struggled a little bit. I thought the race speed would be a little quicker but, with the full tank of fuel, I had a few problems with the front. When he caught me I saw that he had some more edge grip on the tyre and that he was able to open up a gap. I just tried to manage the gap to Valentino (Rossi), which was not easy, and it was a long and tough race.”
“At this track with the Yamahas we suffer a little more than the Hondas, but we worked very well in the practice, we tried everything and I could keep a good pace in the race until the end, not far from Bradl. I fought with Bautista but always stayed in front so I could take the third podium in a row. I am quite competitive and I am happy, it is a good result. Now we take some rest, we go on holiday and we try to take some rest for the second half of the season. Regarding the pass, I tried to resist but today wasn’t the right day, Marc was too strong for me. Before the end of the season we will have another battle where I will be faster and I will give back the overtake for sure!
Laguna Seca had always promised to be a weekend of damage control for both Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team). Both men continued to suffer with left collarbone injuries as they finished fifth and sixth, with Pedrosa having moved ahead of his rival at the Andretti Hairpin. The duo finished in front of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Crutchlow, who on Saturday had been left confused by a crash before taking part in Q2 with his second bike.
The top ten was completed by Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso – who during the race made side-to-side contact on the start/finish straight – and Avintia Blusens’ Hector Barbera, who became the first rider other than Aleix Espargaro to lead the CRT runners in 2013. Espargaro crashed at the last corner, while Power Electronics Aspar teammate Randy de Puniet retired with technical problems.
Tech 3’s Bradley Smith also stopped with mechanical gremlins, while the first two retirements were PBM’s Michael Laverty and NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Claudio Corti.
In 11th, Ignite Pramac Racing’s Alex de Angelis scored while covering for the injured Ben Spies, with Colin Edwards finishing 12th for Forward Racing. The top 15 was completed by Danilo Petrucci (Came IodaRacing Project), Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) and Yonny Hernandez (PBM).
Australian Bryan Staring (Go&Fun Honda Gresini) finished in 17th position.
With the first half of the season now completed, MotoGP heads into its summer break before returning with the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix in mid-August.
Marquez carries a 16-point advantage over teammate Pedrosa and has finished on the podium in eight of his first nine races since joining the premier class as reigning Moto2 World Champion.
1 Marc Marquez 44’00.695 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Stefan Bradl +2.298 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
3 Valentino Rossi +4.498 ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
4 Alvaro Bautista +4.557 SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
5 Dani Pedrosa +9.257 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
6 Jorge Lorenzo +12.970 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
7 Cal Crutchlow +15.304 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
8 Nicky Hayden +33.963 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Andrea Dovizioso +34.129 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Hector Barbera +1’02.369 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
11 Alex De Angelis +1’02.604 RSM DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
12 Colin Edwards +1’03.593 USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
13 Danilo Petrucci +1’20.450 ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
14 Karel Abraham +1 lap CZE ART Cardion AB Motoracing
15 Yonny Hernandez +1 lap COL PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
16 Hiroshi Aoyama +1 lap JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
17 Bryan Staring +1 lap AUS FTR-HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
18 Lukas Pesek +1 lap CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
19 Bradley Smith DNF GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
20 Aleix Espargaro DNF SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
21 Randy De Puniet DNF FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team
22 Claudio Corti DNF ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
23 Michael Laverty DNF GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
1 Marc Marquez 163 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Dani Pedrosa 147 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Jorge Lorenzo 137 pts SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
4 Valentino Rossi 117 pts ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5 Cal Crutchlow 116 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6 Stefan Bradl 84 pts GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
7 Andrea Dovizioso 81 pts ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
8 Alvaro Bautista 71 pts SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
9 Nicky Hayden 65 pts USA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Aleix Espargaro 52 pts SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
11 Bradley Smith 51 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
12 Michele Pirro 36 pts ITA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
13 Andrea Iannone 24 pts ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
14 Hector Barbera 24 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
15 Randy De Puniet 19 pts FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team
16 Danilo Petrucci 18 pts ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
17 Colin Edwards 17 pts USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
18 Ben Spies 9 pts USA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
19 Yonny Hernandez 7 pts COL PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
20 Alex De Angelis 5 pts RSM DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
21 Claudio Corti 5 pts ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
22 Karel Abraham 5 pts CZE ART Cardion AB Motoracing
23 Michael Laverty 3 pts GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
24 Bryan Staring 2 pts AUS FTR-HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
25 Javier Del Amor 1 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
26 Hiroshi Aoyama 1 pts JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
27 Ivan Silva 0 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
28 Lukas Pesek 0 pts CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
29 Blake Young 0 pts USA APR CRT Attack Performance