Marc Marquez won his seventh consecutive race after a tight, race-long battle with Valentino Rossi (2nd) and Dani Pedrosa (3rd) at the Catalunya Circuit Sunday in Barcelona. Marquez, who didn't start from pole after his first crash of the season during qualifying, finished the contest a half second ahead of Rossi -- but that's hardly an indication of how close the contest was for 23 laps.
Jorge Lorenzo finished a distant fourth after leading and then challenging the leaders early in the race. Stefan Bradl claimed a steady fifth, matching the pace of the top-four riders for much of the contest but never mounting a serious threat. Aleix Espargaro finished sixth, the top open-class rider. His brother Pol took seventh after a battle with Andrea Dovizioso (8th).
Andrea Iannone took ninth followed by Bradley Smith who showed early speed in the free practices but finished two places lower than his qualifying result.
Lorenzo had a terrific start and grabbed the lead at the beginning of the race. Rossi quickly moved into second followed by Marquez, Pedrosa and Bradl by the end of lap one. The group of five opened a slight gap.
Rossi grabbed the lead with 22 laps to go. Soon after, Marquez took second from Lorenzo with Pedrosa closing in fourth. Two laps later, Lorenzo pushed inside Marquez but the current champion passed his countryman back two corners later. The fight allowed Pedrosa to close in.
With 17 laps to go, Pedrosa began turning the fastest laps of the lead group. He passed Marquez only to lose the position again in the same lap. Still tightly bunched near the race's midpoint, the five top riders were separated by less than seven-tenths of a second.
With eight laps remaining, the small gap Rossi had established at the front -- four-tenths of a second after a Marquez mistake -- began to erode rapidly. With six laps to go, Marquez grabbed the lead from Rossi at turn one. Rossi wasn't done fighting, however, and swapped with lead with Marquez with five laps remaining. But Marquez held fast and reclaimed the lead. With four laps to go, and Pedrosa grabbed second from Rossi at turn one. At this point, Lorenzo began to fade from the front group, dropping nearly a second a lap for the remaining laps.
On the final lap, Pedrosa locked onto Marquez's tail and appeared to have a slightly better pace. He briefly passed Marquez at turn one but lost the lead a corner later. But Pedrosa wasn't done and again snatched the lead at turn four. Marquez repassed. Then on the second-to-last corner, Pedrosa's front tire touched Marquez's wheel, forcing Pedrosa wide. Rossi shot through the gap to take second and Marquez slightly extended his lead at the finish.
Earlier in the day Marquez's brother Alex won the Moto3 race, making it the first time in the top-tier motorcycle racing series that two brothers won on the same day.
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Bike||Time / Diff.|
|6||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||Forward Yamaha||14.213|
|18||5||Colin EDWARDS||Forward Yamaha||+1'06.121|
|63||Mike DI MEGLIO||Avintia||8 Laps|
|35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||Ducati||15 Laps|
|19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||Honda||22 Laps|
|17||Karel ABRAHAM||Honda||24 Laps|