It was a day of firsts in the inaugural Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in Texas with Repsol Honda’s stalwart rookie Marc Marquez claiming his first-ever MotoGP victory to become the premiere class of Grand Prix racing’s youngest-ever winner.
At just 20 years and 63 days old, Marquez became the youngest winner with a calculating victory over his veteran teammate Dani Pedrosa to take over as the youngest ever from Freddie Spencer, the American having won the Belgian Grand Prix in 1982 at the age of 20 years and 196 days.
Marquez’s victory was almost expected as he dominated the test at Circuit of The Americas a month ago and then led all but one of the practice and qualifying sessions prior to today’s race. And let’s remember, this was only the second MotoGP of Marquez’s career. Impressive stuff.
This one was a battle between the two men who have been the fastest here since wheels were turned at CoTA. It was Pedrosa leading out of turn one after Marquez, who started from pole position, ran wide in the first-gear, left-hander at the top of the hill – CoTA’s signature corner of sorts. From there it was Marquez playing the role of stalker, the youngster never more than a few yards behind as he sat on Pedrosa’s rear wheel with the patience of a much older man. With nine of the 21 laps left, Marquez had seen enough and he shot past Pedrosa on the inside of turn seven to take the lead. Pedrosa, though, wasn’t giving up and for a while this one looked like it would go to the bitter end.
At the end of the 17th lap, Pedrosa trailed by just .262 of a second – the rookie quicker in the first half of the lap, the veteran able to make up time in the second half. But Pedrosa made an error on the 18th lap and Marquez opened a bit of a gap – albeit just 1.6 seconds.
It was enough, however, and Marquez was able to finish the deal, leading the final lap by 1.1 seconds before ending up 1.324 seconds ahead at the finish line.
Marquez stood in celebration for most of his victory lap, congratulated by all of his peers – including Valentino Rossi who pulled up next to him for a congratulatory handshake.
“To be honest no,” Marquez said when asked if he expected to win in MotoGP so quickly. “In the first race in Qatar, it was a dream [he finished third]. And now in the second race to get a victory is even better. About the race, it was quite fast, especially in these difficult conditions in the end. I try to push but I had some problems that I didn’t have in practice with the front. But even with that I was able to push, I was able to go not so fast, but it was enough. For that I want to say thanks to my team because if it was not for them this would not be possible.”
Pedrosa was second after having no answer for Marquez at the end. It was Pedrosa’s first podium of the season after his fourth-place finish in the season opener.
“No tactics really,” Pedrosa said. “Just going out there and trying to the fastest lap times all the time. I knew I wasn’t super fast in the first section. At the end I was struggling there with the arm here [his left shoulder] I had some pain and I could not pick the bike up like I used to do it. I lost the ground. I was recovering ground in the second part of the lap, but with three laps from the end I make a big mistake and lost one and a half seconds and that was it. I’m happy with the bike and happy for Marc and his super start to the season.”
Third place went to Jorge Lorenzo, the Yamaha rider salvaging the best he could at a racetrack that favored the Hondas more than his M1. He still managed to keep the Hondas honest and had them both in sight at the line.
Fourth place went to Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow, the Brit having run wide at one point to lose ground but fighting back to a solid fourth.
“Really happy,” Crutchlow said. “I’m sure that’s all we can ask for. We never tested here and we beat a lot of guys who did.”
Then came LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, the German mixing it up near the front early on before fading back and losing out on his early battle with Crutchlow.
Rossi was next, the legend finishing sixth after never being on the pace of the top three all weekend. He was clear of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian besting Go & Fun Honda’s Alvaro Bautista after a nearly race-long battle.
American Nicky Hayden was a lonely ninth on the second factory Ducati, clear of the Pramac Ducati of Andrea Iannone.
Texan Ben Spies was a disappointing 13th with fellow Texan Colin Edwards dropping out of the race on the 13th lap with a vibration.
The fourth American in the field was wild card Blake Young with the Attack Performance Racing entry finishing last and getting lapped on the final go-around by Marquez and Co.
Marquez and Lorenzo now leave the U.S. tied atop the championship point standings with 41 points each – eight points clear of Pedrosa.
1. Marc Marquez (Honda)
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
4. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
5. Stefan Bradl (Honda)
6. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
7. Andrea Dovizisio (Ducati)
8. Alvaro Bautista (Honda)
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)
10. Andrea Iannone (Ducati)