2013 World Champion Marc Marquez has started the defence of his title in the perfect way; with a thrilling victory in the first race of the season beating Valentino Rossi in a close battle, with Dani Pedrosa in third position.
The Repsol Honda’s 21 year-old rider produced a gritty performance to take maximum points despite breaking his leg in pre-season and missing the last two MotoGP tests.
Marc Marquez: “I’m very happy with the result today. The 25 points are important but it’s also been an important race, because I was coming back from an injury that caused me to miss most of the pre-season. Also, this weekend there were a lot of riders up at the front, all with a great pace, and seeing how the race went, this win is a big one. The battle with Valentino was the best part of the race besides the win, I really enjoyed it!”
Valentino Rossi: “I’m very happy but a little bit upset because I lost. Marc is very strong and I enjoyed very much the whole race. It was a great race, very funny from the beginning, I started from behind and I had to risk in the first laps. I was very precise and didn’t make any mistakes. At the end I played my card with Marc but he was stronger than me so he won and he deserved it.”
Dani Pedrosa: “Third place is a positive result. We’ve finished on the podium this weekend at a circuit that’s difficult for me, because it isn’t well suited to my style. So it’s a good way to start. We were close, but with the way the race went – with so many crashes – it was important to finish. So from here on in we will try to keep improving and try to fight for the win at the next race!”
Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo had a disastrous start to his 2014 Championship tonight, crashing out on the first lap. Lorenzo made a trademark stunning start from fifth on the grid to grab the holeshot into turn one, leading the GP pack. His luck was not to last, a cold front tyre causing a low side crash just a couple of turns later and ending his race.
Meanwhile, after eight laps the race was over for Stefan Bradl who had led the contest for several laps. Coming from seventh on the grid and taking advantage of Lorenzo’s crash and some errors ahead of him Bradl was writing headlines for LCR Honda, but perhaps the pressure of Marquez and Rossi on his shoulder was too much as the German slid off track.
On lap twenty-one – the penultimate lap – Marc and Rossi began to push for the win, passing each other on four occasions, Marc finally came out on top by 0.25s to take the victory and his first win since Aragon last year. With Bautista crashing out, the battle was over for Dani who celebrated third, taking the final spot on the podium.
An excellent ride for Aleix Espargaro (above) saw him take fourth on his debut for NGM Forward Racing on their ‘Open’ Yamaha. Espargaro cashed in on crashes for Alvaro Baustista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) as they fell out of the podium hunt.
Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow did well in fifth and sixth respectively for Ducati Team, though Crutchlow finished 16 seconds behind his teammate after almost running out of fuel on his debut for the Italian factory.
A good first premier class race for Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) saw him beat fellow ‘Open’ Honda equipped rider Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar) to seventh by a 0.035s margin.
The top ten was rounded out by Hayden’s compatriot Colin Edwards (NGM Forward Racing), riding his first race as a 40 year-old, and Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) who recovered well from a fall on the last corner of lap two.
A mistake from rookie Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) with five laps to go saw him drop down to 15th and then pull into the pits shortly after.
1. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 42m 40.561s
2. Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 42m 40.820s | +0.259s
3. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 42m 43.931s | +3.370s
4. Aleix Espargaro ESP NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 42m 52.184s | +11.623s
5. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 42m 52.720s | +12.159s
6. Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 43m 9.087s | +28.526s
7. Scott Redding GBR Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RCV1000R) 43m 13.154s | +32.593s
8. Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 43m 13.189s | +32.628s
9. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 43m 20.108s | +39.547s
10. Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 43m 23.921s | +43.360s
11. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 43m 27.156s | +46.595s
12. Yonny Hernandez COL Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 43m 27.249s | +46.688s
13. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing (RCV1000R) 43m 31.142s | +50.581s
14. Danilo Petrucci ITA IodaRacing Project (ART) 43m 43.688s | +1m 3.127s
15. Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 43m 54.947s | +1m 14.386s
16. Michael Laverty GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 44m 13.154s | +1m 32.593s
17. Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing (Avintia) 44m 16.646s | +1m 36.085s
Alvaro Bautista ESP Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) DNF
Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) DNF
Pol Espargaro ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) DNF
Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) DNF
Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Racing (Avintia) DNF
Jorge Lorenzo ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) DNF