Clinical Marquez triumphs in Austin
The Spaniard eases to victory at the Circuit of the Americas as Ducati finds a podium spot for the first time in two years
Jorge Lorenzo has had a false start to 2014. He started off very well in Qatar, only to fall off even before he had lapped the circuit once, and after struggling to keep up with the Hondas in qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas, today, he really did have a false start. Before the lights went out, the former world champion had already drawn level with the front row riders, and as a result, led the pack into the first lap.
That was about the only time Marc Marquez spent in second place today. Once Lorenzo was hit with a ride-through penalty by Race Direction, off went his Yamaha into the pits at the end of Lap 1, and thereon, Marquez didn't look back for even a second.
He kept building his lead bit by bit, eking out a tenth here, unearthing a tenth there, and had put such distance between himself and his team-mate-perennially-in-second-place Dani Pedrosa, he could afford to scare his fans with a deliberate hairy moment at the last turn on the final lap. And yet, he won. Twice in two years. Such was the degree of his domination, that, barring the other Repsol Honda on the podium, the next factory bike to cross the line was Andrea Dovizioso's Ducati - and it did so almost 21 seconds behind MM93.
Ah, Ducati. Seems like the Open class switch has finally worked for them, hasn't it? They wouldn't have felt that way for the first half of the race, when Cal Crutchlow made a good start, but started to fall back down the leader board, and eventually crashed out of the race, breaking his hand in the process.
However, it wasn't to be all doom and gloom in the Ducati camp. Andrea Iannone, having spent the majority of the race in third place, finally started to wear down, and Stefan Bradl overtook him first, only for Dovizioso to slip past both of them. He was challenged for the spot by Bradl and Tech 3's Bradley Smith towards the end, but Dovi ensured Ducati would not be deprived of their first podium finish since Rossi's second place at Misano in 2012.
Which brings us on to Rossi, and Yamaha. Lorenzo's second consecutive beginner's mistake aside, Rossi seemed to be making good inroads after a scratchy start. He briefly took third from Iannone, but he seemed to develop front tyre issues as the race wore on, and the moment when both satellite Yamahas went past him in two successive corners summed it up best: the factory boys have clearly got some work to do.
Today's results mean Marquez has aced both tests this season, and his sheer superiority, combined with Yamaha's ineptness is threatening to fast turn this season into a Repsol Honda special. If things are to be set in order, it will have to start in two weeks' time at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo circuit in Argentina. And really, Yamaha will have to do something spectacular to make sure they stay in this, rather than relying on Marquez to do something stupid.
1. Marc Marquez
2. Dani Pedrosa
3. Andrea Dovizioso
4. Stefan Bradl
5. Bradley Smith
6. Pol Espargaro
7. Andrea Iannone
8. Valentino Rossi
9. Aleix Espargaro
10. Jorge Lorenzo
11. Nicky Hayden
12. Hiroshi Aoyama
13. Yonny Hernandez
14. Karel Abraham
15. Hector Barbera
16. Michael Laverty
17. Danilo Petrucci
18. Mike Di Meglio