Marquez Takes Safe Second To Increase Championship Lead

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Catalunya, June 18, 2018

Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) finished a strong second at Catalunya this afternoon to increase his points advantage at the top of the 2018 championship chase.

In the early stages of the race the 25-year-old local hero raced for the lead with winner Jorge Lorenzo, but track conditions were difficult, with ten of the 26 starters crashing during the 24-laps, so Marquez wisely decided to settle for a safe second-place finish. The result increased his championship lead to 27 points over Valentino Rossi, who finished the race in third position.

Marquez is currently hunting for his fifth MotoGP crown in six seasons. He scored a hat-trick of victories in the Americas, Spanish and French Grands Prix, but then slid off at Mugello two weeks ago. A safe finish was therefore a priority here, especially after two tumbles in practice and one miraculous save in FP4, which showed just how hard the youngster was pushing on a new track surface that has proven unpredictable throughout the weekend.

Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) scored an excellent fourth-place finish, fighting back from ninth place at the end of the first lap. The 32-year-old Briton worked hard and pushed forward, while many others fell by the wayside. He had a long duel with fellow Honda rider Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V), whom he finally bettered in the later stages of the race. This was his best finish since he won the Argentine Grand Prix in April and the result lifted him from eighth to sixth place in the points chase.

The many fallers in the race – run with a 45-degree track temperature – included all three of Honda’s MotoGP rookies. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) was particularly disappointed with his tumble, which spoiled his excellent points-scoring record.

Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) was able to remount after his crash and finish the race last and 14th, which gave him his sixth points score from his first seven races in the class of kings.

Third rookie Thomas Luthi (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) also fell, ruining his hopes of scoring his first points in the MotoGP World Championship.

Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up Racing Speed Up) took the win in the Moto2 race, the 19-year-old Frenchman’s victory the biggest surprise of the season so far. Quartararo’s previous best result in the intermediate class was a sixth-place finish at last year’s San Marino Grand Prix and he hadn’t done better than eighth this season until he arrived here. His victory was also the first success for Italian constructor Speed Up since the Americas Grand Prix of April 2015.

Quartararo rode a superbly judged race, starting from pole position and completing the first lap in fourth place. Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) was the early leader but the man on the move was Mugello winner Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) who had rocketed through from 17th on the grid to pass Quartararo and then take the lead from Marquez on lap eight of 22. At first it looked like Oliveira would run away out front, but the next lap Quartararo also passed Marquez and set off in pursuit of the leader. When 23-year-old Portuguese Oliveira ran wide at turn four on lap ten, Quartararo took the lead, set a new lap record and kept building his advantage until he finished the race 2.492 seconds ahead of Oliveira, with local Marquez completing the podium a further 0.993 seconds down.

Marquez had to fight hard for the final place on the podium, just ahead of Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter) and Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter).

The top ten was completed by Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40 Kalex), championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex), Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors KTM) and Iker Lecuona (Swiss Innovative Investors KTM).

Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) won a frantic Moto3 race, his first World Championship victory since the 2016 Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi. The 21-lap contest was fast, furious and full of incidents, with two multiple crashes reducing the 11-rider leading pack to five during the final few laps.

Bastianini, who started from the front row of the grid, timed his victory move to perfection, taking the lead while braking into turn one for the final time and keeping his rivals behind him for the remainder of the lap. His winning margin was just 0.167 seconds over championship leader Marco Bezzecchi.

Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) rode a superb race, breaking clear of the pack in the early stages with Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW), who led the charge until he fell just before half-distance. Soon after that Suzuki was caught by Bastianini and the rest.  But the 20-year-old from Chiba stayed with the lead group for the rest of the race and was in podium contention all the way to the checkered flag. He crossed the line in fifth place, 0.639 seconds behind the winner and just four tenths of a second off the podium. If Suzuki had made the top three he would’ve been the first Japanese rider to stand on a Moto3 podium since the creation of the 250cc four-stroke class in 2012.

Martin was devastated by his tumble at turn nine, which spoiled his chances of taking the championship lead. Spanish star Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) was in the thick of the lead group when he was taken out by another rider in the closing stages.

Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) scored his best Grand Prix result with an excellent sixth-place finish, the 18-year-old from Fukuoka taking the checkered flag just ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW), who recovered well after an earlier off-track excursion. Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) was eighth.

Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) was going well and fighting for a top-ten finish, until he slid off on lap 15.

Adam Norrodin (Malaysian Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) and Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) scored points in 13th and 14th positions.

MotoGP heads north after premier-class testing here tomorrow, to the Dutch TT at Assen, on July 1.

Takaaki Nakagami

Takaaki Nakagami