Domineering Marquez reigns supreme at Laguna Seca
Post much brouhaha about the rookie's first shot at the famed circuit, Marquez swats everything away en route to a fine victory
Oh, did they not ever make such a din about it. Marquez was being such a 'fraidy cat about Laguna Seca, he tried riding a road bike through it just to get to know the circuit well, or so were the rumours. Must've been an insanely good road bike then, for Marquez rode through Laguna Seca like he'd been doing it all his life - and been doing it like a routine task. Like brushing his teeth.
After observing a minute's silence for Andrea Antonelli, the FIM World Supersport rider, who suffered a fatal crash in Russia earlier in the day, the boys set about their business once the lights went out. Bradl made the best start he could possibly have hoped for, and for the first time in recent memory, the pole-holder held his own to lead the pack at the end of the first lap.
Someone else had gotten off to a great start too, and it was none other than Valentino Rossi, who'd shot up from fourth to second on the first lap itself, passing the Hondas ridden by Bautista (must've been uncertain, maybe even a little nervy going past that Gresini Honda) and Marquez. The top three bikes were moving pretty close to each other as Bradl made full use of the battles going on behind his LCR Honda.
It wasn't to last very long, though. Marquez kept closing in on The Doctor, and then made a pass at the 'Corkscrew' that was oh-so-reminiscent of the one Rossi had pulled off on Casey Stoner back in 2008 at the very same corner, in the very same fashion. This time, he was on the receiving end, and Marquez nonchalantly took 2nd and went in pursuit of the German and his satellite machine. It wouldn't be easy though - Bradl had quietly chalked up a lead of 1.8 seconds when Marquez slotted into 2nd. To be Captain Obvious here, that was a big lead. Like really big.
But even that didn't make a difference to that new fella hired by Repsol Honda. He caught up with Bradl, and with some late braking, passed him on the inside at the end of Lap 19. Not just that, he pulled out a lead in excess of two seconds to bring an end to Bradl's dreams of a maiden MotoGP victory. If he made it look like a cat and mouse chase (which he did), only this time, the cat gobbled up the mouse whole. And danced to Danza Kuduro after that.
Bradl didn't have much trouble from Mr.46, and finished in 2nd place, his best-ever MotoGP result. Rossi though, did receive a lot of heat from Alvaro Bautista in the closing stages, but he clung on to just edge out the Gresini Honda across the line, finishing third, with Bautista fourth.
The hurting collarbone nationals, Pedrosa and Lorenzo, started from seventh and sixth, and with the help of a little courage and a lot of painkillers, hung on to finish fifth and sixth respectively. They wouldn't mind that, at least they get to take a few points back to Spain for the summer break. Cal Crutchlow fell to a lowly seventh on the first lap, and never graduated, while Hayden and Dovizioso finished right behind him.
That's it for the first half of the 2013 MotoGP season, then. A lot has happened over the last nine races, and there is not a sliver of doubt a lot more will happen over the next nine. Marquez leads the championship by 16 points, heading into the break with a jaw-dropping eight podium finishes out of nine races. Will he be able to continue in the same rich vein of form when the action resumes, or is there a twist in the tale after the interval? See y'all in August when the battle commences at Indianapolis.
1. Marc Marquez
2. Stefan Bradl
3. Valentino Rossi
4. Alvaro Bautista
5. Dani Pedrosa
6. Jorge Lorenzo
7. Cal Crutchlow
8. Nicky Hayden
9. Andrea Dovizioso
10. Hector Barbera
11. Alex de Angelis
12. Colin Edwards
13. Danilo Petrucci
14. Karel Abraham
15. Yonny Hernandez
16. Hiroshi Aoyama
17. Bryan Staring
18. Lukas Pesek
Randy De Puniet