PHOTOGRAPHY BY GOLD & GOOSE
It’s a bit early to start comparing Marc Marquez to Giacomo Agostini or even Mick Doohan, but those comparisons will start to get more commonplace if the young Spaniard continues to dominate MotoGP racing like he did today in Argentina.
Marquez, who has led every qualifying session (and every session bar one) at the three GPs held thus far in 2014, continued his run through the early part of the championship with a third successive victory – this one coming after the defending World Champion toyed with rival Jorge Lorenzo for 17 of the 25 laps in the Red Bull Grand Prix of Argentina at the new Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. With nine laps to go, after sitting in Lorenzo’s shadow after things settled down after a wild first few laps, Marquez did what every one knew he was going to do. He made the pass and pulled away, winning in dominant (Ago/Doohan-like) fashion. In doing so, Marquez became the first premiere class rider since Valentino Rossi in 2001 to win the first three GPs of the season. He also became the first to win the first three GPs from pole position since Agostini did so in 1971.
The race started looking more Moto3 than MotoGP with Lorenzo leading with much going on behind him. Marquez was sixth early on and dropped as low as seventh behind fighting his way through the melee to get to second place on the third lap. Then he just sat there, content to just follow Lorenzo. It wasn’t a case of if he was going to make the pass, but when. And it came 32 minutes after the start of the race, the youngster outbraking Movistar Yamaha’s Lorenzo at the end of the backstraight and into turn five.
From there he pulled away with ease, getting the gap to almost three seconds before slowing to win by 1.8 seconds.
“Enjoyed a lot, especially in the beginning with all the riders there,” Marquez said. “We overtake maybe… I don’t know, I can’t say how many times, but it was so nice. Anyway was nice and I enjoyed, but was quite a big risk in that situation. And then I saw Jorge start to open a small gap and I said, ‘Okay, I will try to catch him.’ When I was behind him, I tried to follow him some laps and with nine, 10 laps I have to push a little bit more because I saw that Dani [Pedrosa] was coming. I keep the distance and it was enough to take the victory.”
And it wasn’t Lorenzo who Marquez ended up beating. Instead it was his teammate Dani Pedrosa, the veteran passing Lorenzo on the final lap to finish second. It was Pedrosa’s seventh podium finish in a row, including the three this season.
“I didn’t enjoy that much because unfortunately I lost a lot of time there,” Pedrosa said. “I wasn’t really strong in the opening laps and I got stuck by the group and then Jorge and Marc pulled away a big lead from me. After some laps I could get some rhythm back and be strong at the end. I got back to second, but I’m not able to win the race anyway. I have to take the positive things and I’m very pleased with the performance today so now in week we are in Jerez and I will push for the maximum.”
Lorenzo’s third was his best finish of the 2014 season, the two-time MotoGP World Champion bouncing back from the misery of the first two rounds in Qatar and Texas to record the 75th podium finish of his career.
Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi ended up fourth after mixing it up early and often during the race. He finished 4.8 seconds behind Marquez and 1.6 seconds behind his third-placed teammate.
Stefan Bradl rode the LCR Honda to a lonely fifth, the German dropping out of the early battle for third but finishing well clear of Pramac Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, the Italian enjoying the best finish of his MotoGP career.
The two Monster Tech 3 Yamahas were next with Bradley Smith finishing seventh and his teammate Pol Espargaro ending up eighth. Ducati factory rider Andrea Dovizisio finished ninth.
Tenth was disputed between Aspar Honda teammates Hiroshi Aoyoma and Nicky Hayden for nearly the entire race. Hayden led the final lap, but Aoyoma prevailed for 10th.
Hayden’s countryman Colin Edwards had a rough day on the NGM Forward Yamaha, the Texan ending up 20th.
Go&Fun Honda’s Alvaro Bautista crashed for the third MotoGP in a row on the opening lap of the race. Aleix Espargaro also crashed early in the race, but the NGM Forward Yamaha rider – who qualified fourth – remounted to finish 15th.
2014 Argentina MotoGP Results
1. Marc Marquez (Honda)
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
5. Stefan Bradl (Honda)
6. Andrea Iannone (Ducati)
7. Bradley Smith (Yamaha)
8. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha)
9. Andrea Dovisioso (Ducati)
10. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda)
11. Nicky Hayden (Honda)
20. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)