Marc Marquez 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.
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’s third victory of the year equals the sum of reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. The Repsol Honda rider sank as low as 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 wins 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 Grand Prix. Furthermore, he makes history by becoming the first rookie rider to win at Laguna Seca.
Bradl’s ride to second was one of calm and composure. A clean getaway allowed the LCR Honda MotoGP rider to head the field from his first ever pole in the top class. The 2011 Moto2™ World Champion was assisted by the fact that those behind him were battling early in the race, but by the 17th tour had the recovering Marquez only two tenths of a second behind. Once the overtake had occurred two laps later, Bradl comfortably managed a two-second gap back to Rossi to clinch his maiden premier class podium, improving on his previous best of fourth – achieved on three occasions.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Rossi has now taken the chequered flag inside the top three for as many races in a row. The Italian, who had famously overtaken Casey Stoner at the Corkscrew five years ago, was this time passed in the same place by Marquez before 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.
Laguna Seca had always promised to be a weekend of damage limitation for both Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) and Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team). Both men continue to suffer with left collarbone injuries as they finished fifth and sixth, with Pedrosa having moved ahead of his rival in an overtake at the Andretti Hairpin. The duo both 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 place, Ignite Pramac Racing’s Alex de Angelis scored while covering for the injured Ben Spies, while Colin Edwards finished 12th for Forward Racing. The top 15 was completed by Danilo Petrucci (Came IodaRacing Project), Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) and Yonny Hernandez (PBM).
With the first half of the season now complete, MotoGP™ heads into its summer break before returning at Indianapolis 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 joined the premier class as reigning Moto2™ World Champion.