Marc Marquez took an ominous win in yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix at the newly named Angel Nieto circuit in Jerez as his main rivals crashed out in a series of incidents.
The Andalucian circuit has long been considered a bogey track for the six-time world champion, with just one of his 62 previous Grand Prix wins coming at his home Grand Prix, but the 25-year-old laid his demons to rest with a masterful performance to take his second successive race win and move to the head of the 2018 championship.
Marquez’ cause was helped by a number of crashes early on in the race, with Suzuki’s Alex Rins and polesitter Cal Crutchlow all sliding out of the leading group in the first seven laps.
Those opening laps were led by Jerez specialist Jorge Lorenzo but his hopes of a rare podium finish were dashed on lap 18, when he was a victim of a spectacular racing incident that saw him crash out along with team-mate Andrea Dovizioso and Marquez’ team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
The incident occurred when Dovizioso attempted to pass his team-mate for second place, only for both to run wide. Lorenzo cut back to hit the apex of the corner, only to find Pedrosa attempting a pass on the inside line. The pair collided, collecting the hapless Dovizioso and ruling all three out.
The incident left Marquez with a clear lead from Johann Zarco on the Tech3 Yamaha. Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone took his second successive third place after winning a fierce battle for the final podium place with Danilo Petrucci, Valentino Rossi and Jack Miller .
“This win in front of these amazing fans is great,” said Marquez. “I’m very happy with the result, which is especially important at this track, because winning here is usually difficult for me. That said, I was convinced before the start that I could fight for the victory today. It was a tough weekend, but we did good work, and in the end I was able to manage the race in the best way, despite the fact that I wasn’t the fastest rider out there today. The key was the rear-tyre choice; we made the decision after the warm-up to go with the medium, and that was the right move. Then I was able to take the lead at the right moment and push when I had the chance. I also had a big moment when I hit some dirt on the track. When I realized that the asphalt was covered in gravel, it was already too late. I closed the gas, but I had a huge slide! Let’s say it was a bit of a ‘Marquez style’ show! I’m happy to have taken my first win at Angel Nieto’s circuit, and to have an advantage in the championship. We’ll have a test here tomorrow, and we’ll try to continue the good work. It will be a long season and we must keep our focus high.”
It was a difficult day for the British riders. Crutchlow again showed front running pace before crashing out for the second race in a row. “The front tyre was overheating and I was struggling for more rear grip compare to the others,” said the Isle of Man based Coventry rider. “The pace was yo-yoing a lot and I had to make it all up under braking and that meant the front tyre was getting hot. I had to try and stay out of the slipstream a lot Obviously I’m disappointed, I feel it’s an easy podium let go. Maybe the race win would have been more difficult, but we have to take the positives from the weekend and go to Le Mans knowing we have the speed to be up there again. Today just wasn’t our day.”
Bradley Smith scored three points for 13th place, but found himself KTM team-mates Miko Kallio and Pol Espargaro. Earlier in the weekend, the Oxfordshire rider suffered the ignominy of losing his ride for 2019, with the Austrian manufacturer announcing that Zarco will be joining Espargaro in the factory team, with Portuguese racer Miguel Oliviera moving up from Moto2 to race another KTM with the Tech3 team.
Scott Redding’s miserable time at Aprilia continued when he qualified 25th and last for the race, while he scored a solitary point for 15th place.