MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2014
Honda’s defending World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) took a fighting sixth win in six races in Italy today, finally prevailing after several laps of hand-to-hand combat with long-time race-leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha).
A crowd of 77,463 basking under clear blue skies thrilled to a battle that intensified as the race progressed, culminating in the closest finish of the year, with Marquez just 0.121 seconds ahead of his rival over the line. It was the 21-year-old Spaniard’s 12th win in the premier class, adding to a career total of 38, achieved while previously winning the 125cc and Moto2 titles.
Second Repsol Honda RC213V rider Dani Pedrosa was fourth, also obliged to fight hard after a disappointing start from the second row of the grid left him with a hard afternoon’s work. The former 125cc and double 250cc World Champion finished the first lap eighth, and even when he was up to fourth after ten laps of the 23-lap race he had to fight to maintain the position.
As at every other race so far this year, Marquez started from pole position at the spectacular 5.345-km circuit in the Apennine foothills outside Florence. But this race was no foregone conclusion, and it was Lorenzo who led away.
The pace was fast, and Marquez set fastest lap on the fifth as he followed his compatriot Lorenzo closely. He waited patiently for his chance to attack, seven laps from the end. The pass came on the long straight, helped by the powerful Honda RC213V engine and a last-minute gearing change, following morning warm-up, to improve his top speed.
But Lorenzo fought back immediately, and for the next six laps the pair changed places frequently at the circuit’s many overtaking points, and sometimes more than once in one corner. Only at the start of the last lap could Marquez gain a slender margin that he was able to preserve to the end.
With the season one-third completed, the sixth straight win extended his championship lead, now 53 points, giving him a margin of more than two races.
For Pedrosa, still regaining strength after surgery to repair arm-pump problems following round four, it was a similar battle. He took fourth from front-row starter Andrea Iannone (Ducati) on lap ten, but over the next laps Iannone also fought back, getting ahead several times. Only on the 18th lap was Pedrosa able to escape, by when he was too distant to make any further progress.
Pedrosa had been on the top-three podium at all of the first four races, but fifth in France and fourth in Italy meant that he lost second in the overall points table by one point to Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), who was third today.
Satellite Honda rider Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda RC213V) was a lone eighth in today’s race, after qualifying 11th and moving through in the early laps. Bautista has a special role, race-testing Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, made by Japanese companies with strong links with Honda.
Second satellite rider Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) did not finish, after crashing out on the fourth lap. The German rider, former Moto2 World Champion, was the innocent victim of another rider’s error, knocked flying when Cal Crutchlow’s Ducati slid back across the track in his path.
The battle of the production-racer Hondas – close replicas of the factory V4 1000cc machines – lasted to the end, with all three riders in the points, and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) leading his similarly mounted rivals past the flag in close order, taking 12th to 14th places. This was Abraham’s best result of the year proving that the Czech Republic rider’s recovery from major shoulder surgery is continuing.
Briton Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R) was only one hundredth of a second behind; and former 250 champion Hiro Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) less than a second behind him. Aoyama’s team-mate Nicky Hayden had already withdrawn from the race after suffering hand problems: the American former MotoGP World Champion will undergo corrective surgery on Tuesday.
Spanish title leader Tito Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) was back to his winning ways in Italy in a close-fought Moto2 class, where all riders rely on Honda power having race-tuned CBR600 engines supplied by the organizers to guarantee close and reliable racing.
Rabat won the first and third rounds and was second in the race in between. His third win this year extended his points lead over Marc VDS Racing Team team-mate Mika Kallio, who was sixth today.
Class rookies Luis Salom (Pons HP 40 Kalex) and Jonas Folger (AGR Team Kalex) were second and third. Folger had led away and stayed up front for 13 of the 21 laps before losing ground as he suffered tyre wear.
This left Spanish compatriots Rabat and Salom fighting to the finish, with the former prevailing by less than a quarter of a second.
Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing Kalex) held on to the lead of the next group under severe pressure from Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) and Kallio, with Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Caterham Suter) closing to attack at the end.
GP newcomer and reigning World Supersport champion Sam Lowes (Speed Up) was eighth, fending off Austin GP winner Maverick Vinales (Pons HP 40 Kalex) in a late attack. Fellow GP newcomer Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) prevailed over the next group for tenth.
In Moto3, where rival manufacturers compete with strictly controlled 250cc four-stroke engines, the new Honda NSF250RW’s record of podiums was preserved with third place for Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda), after a fierce race with, at one stage, a group of 15 riders to and fro in a huge leading pack.
The chance of a double rostrum or even race win was denied when points leader Jack Miller (KTM) crashed on the final lap, taking erstwhile race leader Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda) and another rider down with him. The victory was claimed by Romano Fenati (KTM).in a blanket finish ahead of Isaac Vinales (KTM) and Rins, the three riders crossing the finish line covered by the slim margin of just 0.011 of a second!
The crash broke up the pack, but the first seven still crossed the line within six tenths of a second. Second-best Honda finisher Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda) was in the thick of it in sixth, equalling his best finish so far this year.
Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia Honda) was 11th, his best finish this year, one place ahead of top rider Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda). Vazquez had started with the leaders, but was given a ride-through penalty after jumping the start, coming back through to 12th in a strong recovery ride.
Wild cards Simone Mazzola (MT Racing FTR Honda) and Anthony Groppi (Pos Corse FTR Honda) finished 24th and 25th.
Second SaxoPrint-RTG Honda rider John McPhee crashed out in the early stages, after leading the race and playing a strong role in the front pack.
The next race is the Catalunyan GP at Montmelo, on the outskirts of Barclona, in two weeks.
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|3||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|4||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|5||Pol ESPARGARO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)||F|
|6||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)||F|
|7||Andrea IANNONE (Pramac Racing)||F|
|8||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO & FUN Honda Gresini)||F|
|9||Aleix ESPARGARO (NGM Forward Racing)||O|
|10||Yonny HERNANDEZ (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)||F|
|11||Michele PIRRO (Ducati Team)||F|
|12||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)||O|
|13||Scott REDDING (GO & FUN Honda Gresini)||O|
|14||Hiroshi AOYAMA (Drive M7 Aspar)||O|
|15||Colin EDWARDS (NGM Forward Racing)||O|
* F=Factory option, O=Open category
|1||Esteve RABAT (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|2||Luis SALOM (Pons HP 40)|
|3||Jonas FOLGER (AGR Team)|
|4||Simone CORSI (NGM Forward Racing)|
|5||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag carXpert)|
|6||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|7||Johann ZARCO (AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing)|
|8||Sam LOWES (Speed Up)|
|9||Maverick VIÑALES (Pons HP 40)|
|10||Franco MORBIDELLI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|11||Jordi TORRES (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)|
|12||Marcel SCHROTTER (Tech 3)|
|13||Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|14||Xavier SIMEON (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)|
|15||Axel PONS (AGR Team)|
|1||Romano FENATI (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|2||Isaac VIÑALES (Calvo Team)|
|3||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|4||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Mahindra Racing)|
|5||Niklas AJO (Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo)|
|6||Alexis MASBOU (Ongetta-Rivacold)|
|7||Alessandro TONUCCI (CIP)|
|8||Juanfran GUEVARA (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|9||Brad BINDER (Ambrogio Racing)|
|10||Karel HANIKA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|11||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (Ongetta-AirAsia)|
|12||Efren VAZQUEZ (SaxoPrint-RTG)|
|13||Philipp OETTL (Interwetten Paddock Moto3)|
|14||Matteo FERRARI (San Carlo Team Italia)|
|15||Danny KENT (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo)|