MotoGP Assen TT: Marquez conquers ’em all in rain or shine

  Aleix Espargaro might have grabbed the MotoGP Assen TT headlines when he captured pole position on Friday at Round 8’s Motorcycle Grand Prix Championship in the Netherlands. But, it was Reigning Champion Marc Marquez who turned all attention round on Saturday on route to his eighth victory of the season. It was eight in a row for the Repsol Honda wiz kid!

In a rain disrupted qualifying on Friday, Yamaha Satellite rider Espargaro managed to take the top spot from Marquez and team mate Dani Pedrosa for his first ever pole position. The Ducatis of Andrea Iannone and Cal Crutchlow and Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith were on row two, having qualified fourth through sixth. Andrea Dovizioso, Stefan Bradl and Jorge Lorenzo were on row three, while Alvaro Bautista led off row four.

Rain or shine: Marc Marquez is still the undisputed Wiz kid of MotoGP

The weather came to play again on raceday, but didn’t interfere too much with the Repsol Honda lead rider’s progress. Marquez, on wet tyres, led the field at the start of the 26-lap race for five laps. Pole sitter Espargaro lost out to Marquez and Dovizioso off the starting grid. Up front, Marquez was pursued by Dovizioso in the early stint as the track conditions began drying out. The defending champion was the first to switch to slicks, and on his out lap survived a near slide. On that lap (lap 8), Dovizioso took the opportunity to assume the lead as the Repsol Honda ace went off track. Marquez, however, recovered almost in an instant and closed up on the Ducati in a hurry.

On lap 16, Marquez made a bold move to pass Dovizioso, showing once again that the RCV is clearly the better machine on track. From there he was unchallenged to the end, and he would finish six tenths ahead of the factory Ducati rider. Third place was Pedrosa who finished four tenths from Dovizioso. For Dovizioso, it was his second podium finish of the year, following a third place at the COTA (Circuit of the Americas).

With a perfect 8-for-8, Marquez reaches 200 points with a 72 points advantage to his team mate and Valentino Rossi, both on 128 points. It was an eventful race for Pedrosa who pitted for a bike change one lap after Marquez, having closed up on the pole starter. The Repsol Honda rider and satellite Yamaha rider came out of the pits almost together, and were furiously engaged for much of the rest of the race, changing places a number of times, before Pedrosa managed to claim a decisive advantage with eight laps remaining.

In the factory Yamaha camp, Rossi struggled to a fifth place finish, while Lorenzo couldn’t recover from the bike switch to end up 13th; probably his worst finish in the premier class ever. Rossi started the race from pit lane, having changed his decision from slicks to wets at the last minute. His indecisiveness led to a difficult early stint where he had to make up positions from 13th running order. After the bike switch on lap 6, Rossi had climbed up to 10th and was hot on the heels of Pol Espargaro, Crutchlow, Bautista and Bradl over the next six laps. The Doctor then took another three laps to move up to fifth place. He was consistently closing on A. Espagaro in fourth, but there were not enough laps, leaving him to hold fifth at the line. Bautista recovered from a poor start to take seventh, among a to-and-fro group of five riders. Fellow satellite rider Stefan Bradl bounced back after slipping off on the sighting lap to finish tenth. Eighth place went to Smith in his trusty Yamaha Tech 3, who missed on seventh spot by less than a tenth of a second.

Smith held eighth in the early stint until the bike switch period. He then re-joined the race and set into an incredibly competitive rhythm. In the final stint of the race, he was the fastest MotoGP rider on track, also producing the 3rd fastest race time on his final lap.

The championship moves on to Round 9 at the Sachsenring, Deutschland from 11 – 13 July.

2014 MotoGP (Motorcycle Grand Prix Championship), Assen TT, results

1 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda 43:29.954
2 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati +6.714
3 Daniel Pedrosa Honda +10.791
4 Aleix Espargaro Forward Yamaha +19.199
5 Valentino Rossi Yamaha +25.813
6 Andrea Iannone Ducati +29.003
7 Alvaro Bautista Honda +30.882
8 Bradley Smith Yamaha Tech 3 +30.985
9 Cal Crutchlow Ducati +44.031
10 Stefan Bradl Honda +48.662
11 Broc Parkes PBM +51.863
12 Scott Redding Honda +1:00.329
13 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha +1:04.641
14 Karel Abraham Honda +1:05.980
15 Danilo Petrucci ART +1:17.611

Qualifying
1 Aleix Espargaro 1:38.789
2 Marc Marquez 1:40.194
3 Daniel Pedrosa 1:40.732
4 Andrea Iannone 1:40.786
5 Cal Crutchlow 1:40.796
6 Bradley Smith 1:40.818
7 Andrea Dovizioso 1:41.140
8 Stefan Bradl 1:41.982
9 Jorge Lorenzo 1:42.259
10 Alvaro Bautista 1:42.884

Riders standings

1. Marc Marquez 200
2. Daniel Pedrosa 128
3. Valentino Rossi 128
4. Andrea Dovizioso 91
5. Jorge Lorenzo 81
6. Aleix Espargaro 67
7. Pol Espargaro 58
8. Stefan Bradl 56
9. Andrea Iannone 51
10. Bradley Smith 48
11. Alvaro Bautista 43
12. Scott Redding 29
13. Yonny Hernandez 27
14. Nicky Hayden 26
15. Hiroshi Aoyama 24
16. Cal Crutchlow 22