MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2014
Honda’s defending World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) claimed an eighth win in eight races at the Dutch TT today, with team-mate Dani Pedrosa joining him on the podium to make a double celebration for the factory team, in a race made complicated by typically unsettled Assen weather.
Victory in the all-Honda Moto2 class was backed by first and second in an exciting Moto3 race ensuring every Dutch TT winner today was powered by Honda.
The 21-year-old Marquez had to conquer treacherously changeable conditions at the classic 4.542-km Assen circuit, where rain showers alternated with clear spells on a surface that dries quickly. It made tire tactics crucial, and dictated a mid-race change of bikes in the first flag-to-flag event this year.
Most riders started the 26-lapper on wet tires, and Marquez led a tentative field away for the first five laps, pursued by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) on a track that was drying quickly.
At the end of lap six Marquez was the first into the pits to change to a bike with slick tires to suit the changed conditions, followed directly by Dovizioso. But the Italian took over the lead as Marquez narrowly survived a slide on his out lap that took him off the track onto the run-off, losing four seconds on his rival.
Marquez was able to whittle away at the gap, finally catching and directly passing Dovizioso on lap 16. From there he was unchallenged to the end, and had enough time to spare to mime the actions of a swimmer over the line, lying on the tank of his class-leading RC213V Honda with his legs kicking out behind.
Former 125 and Moto2 World Champion Marquez is already the youngest ever World Champion, winning at his first attempt on the Repsol Honda last season. His eighth win in eight races is another significant boost to his ever-growing lead on points this year, now 72 points, with the season not yet halfway over.
Third place for a second successive race also boosted former 125cc and double 250cc champion Pedrosa’s position. The experienced Repsol Honda RC213V rider is now equal on points for second overall with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), who finished fifth today.
Pedrosa pitted for a bike change one lap after Marquez, having closed up on fast-starting pole qualifier Aleix Espargaro (Yamaha). They 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.
The many pit stops and frequently changing fortunes made it a complicated race to follow for the huge crowd of 90,000; all the more so when rain started to fall again briefly after 12 laps, though it never amounted to a real shower.
The other Honda riders endured mixed fortunes as a result.
Former 125 champion Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) recovered from a poor start to take seventh, among a to-and-fro group of five riders. German former Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) bounced back after slipping off on the sighting lap to finish tenth.
GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R rider Scott Redding was best of the four production-racer Hondas, built to new Open category rules, with 12th place. Czech racer Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) was 14th; but Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R team-mates Hiroshi Aoyama and Nicky Hayden were out of the points, crossing the line 16th and 17th respectively. Aoyama is a former 250cc World Champion, and Hayden the 2006 MotoGP champion, both on Hondas.
In Moto2 all riders are supplied with identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines to ensure reliable and closely matched racing. Conditions similar to or even worse than those in the premier class saw several different riders lead the race, only to slip off on a wet but drying surface.
This left victory to the oldest and most experienced rider in the class. Thirty-two-year-old Australian Anthony West (QMMF Racing Team Speed Up) had led the pursuit, and watched from a safe distance as early leaders Sam Lowes (Speed Up Speed Up) and Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing Kalex) paid the price of challenging the treacherous surface.
West’s only other GP victory also came at Assen in wet conditions – in the 250cc class, eleven years ago.
He had to fight to the end to hold two challengers at bay, with Maverick Vinales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) and Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) both crossing the line within eight tenths of the leader.
Second Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex rider Luis Salom had been in this battle, but slipped off and remounted to claim a single point in 15th, two places behind the remounted Corsi.
French rider Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Caterham-Suter) was fourth, Alex de Angelis (Tasca Racing Moto2 Suter) fifth, and Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Suter) sixth, separated by over seven seconds, with Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) close behind in seventh.
Points leader Esteve Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) had started from pole, but had a difficult race after falling on the sighting lap and only able to make the start because it was delayed by the weather. He finished eighth after triumphing over Lorenzo Baldassarri (Gresini Moto2 Suter). Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex) completed the top ten.
Rabat’s championship lead over Kallio shrank to 26 points, with Vinales another 22 behind.
Moto3, the first race of the day, was the only one to be dry throughout, and brought a first one-two finish for the new Honda NSF250RW, which is up against rival manufacturers in the keenly competitive category.
It was also a second win in succession for the younger of the Marquez brothers, Alex, who scored a decisive runaway at Barcelona two weeks before.
Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda) took over the lead on lap two, after pole starter Jack Miller (KTM) crashed out on the first corner. His only challenge came from team-mate Alex Rins, who caught and passed him at half distance, after Marquez had run wide and lost time.
Rins led briefly, but suffering from foot fractures sustained in Barcelona he wasn’t able to sustain the pace – instead falling back into the hands of Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra). Rins ceded second to his rival for a game of cat-and-mouse, stalking to the end then pouncing under braking for the final corner to regain the position.
All six Moto3 Hondas finished in the points, with Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda) emerging triumphant from a fierce battle for fourth, at the head of a pack of six over the line within less than half a second.
Title contender Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda) was a close sixth, and team-mate John McPhee tenth, narrowly at the back of the group. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia Honda) was 14th.
With Miller and championship second-place man Romano Fenati (KTM) both crashing out, Marquez’s second win puts him equal on points with Fenati, and just seven behind Miller.
The next race is the German GP at Sachsenring in two weeks.
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|2||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)||F|
|3||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|4||Aleix ESPARGARO (NGM Forward Racing)||O|
|5||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|6||Andrea IANNONE (Pramac Racing)||F|
|7||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO & FUN Honda Gresini)||F|
|8||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)||F|
|9||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Ducati Team)||F|
|10||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)||F|
|11||Broc PARKES (Paul Bird Motorsport)||O|
|12||Scott REDDING (GO & FUN Honda Gresini)||O|
|13||Jorge LORENZO (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|14||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)||O|
|15||Danilo PETRUCCI (IodaRacing Project)||O|
* F=Factory option, O=Open category
|1||Anthony WEST (QMMF Racing Team)|
|2||Maverick VIÑALES (Paginas Amarillas HP 40)|
|3||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|4||Johann ZARCO (AirAsia Caterham)|
|5||Alex DE ANGELIS (Tasca Racing Moto2)|
|6||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten Paddock Moto2)|
|7||Julian SIMON (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|8||Esteve RABAT (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|9||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI (Gresini Moto2)|
|10||Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)|
|11||Gino REA (AGT REA Racing)|
|12||Marcel SCHROTTER (Tech 3)|
|13||Simone CORSI (NGM Forward Racing)|
|14||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|15||Luis SALOM (Paginas Amarillas HP 40)|
|1||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|2||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|3||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Mahindra Racing)|
|4||Alexis MASBOU (Ongetta-Rivacold)|
|5||Niccolò ANTONELLI (Junior Team GO & FUN Moto3)|
|6||Efren VAZQUEZ (SaxoPrint-RTG)|
|7||Isaac VIÑALES (Calvo Team)|
|8||Danny KENT (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo)|
|9||Brad BINDER (Ambrogio Racing)|
|10||John MCPHEE (SaxoPrint-RTG)|
|11||Jakub KORNFEIL (Calvo Team)|
|12||Jasper IWEMA (KRP Abbink Racing)|
|13||Matteo FERRARI (San Carlo Team Italia)|
|14||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (Ongetta-AirAsia)|
|15||Philipp OETTL (Interwetten Paddock Moto3)|