Two brand new winners in the first two races of the day - it was always going to be tricky for MotoGP to beat those headlines. That didn’t stop them from putting on a show for the world championship’s 3000th grand prix, a historic statistic that will have Dani Pedrosa’s name forever mentioned with it. The Honda veteran dominated the race like he dominated practice and continued the recent trend of the poleman taking the win in Jerez.
He was chased at a safe distance by his teammate, Marc Marquez, the world champion making it a Honda one-two. Jorge Lorenzo came good on the promise he showed in practice to grab third place and gain his first podium with Ducati in his fourth race for the Italian team.
The factory Honda duo had the perfect start, keeping the qualifying order, with Pedrosa on top and Marquez cautious on the harder tyre behind him. Marquez kept a one and a half seconds gap until the final third of the race, when his teammate’s medium rear tyre started to fade slightly, the gap breaking the one second barrier every now and then. The younger Spaniard couldn’t bring it any lower, Pedrosa continuing to set a steady pace at the front.
Johann Zarco and Valentino Rossi picked it up where they left it in Austin, a few strong moves exchanged on the first lap, before the Tech 3 man was having a go at Maverick Viñales, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Iannone all within a lap. The Frenchman had even higher aspirations and challenged Marquez soon after - a dream too many, Zarco holding second place only for a few moments.
Behind them, Crutchlow crashed out of fourth position on the fifth lap, the place going to Lorenzo, who after a brilliant first few laps got stuck a second behind the podium spots and a second ahead of Rossi. With both him and Zarco going one softer on tyres than Marquez ahead, the two started losing ground on the leaders and fought off third position between themselves. Lorenzo solved that in his favour midway through the race, finishing eight seconds behind Marquez and two seconds in hand on Zarco.
Behind the podium battle, Rossi found himself in a group with Viñales and Dovizioso, the trio already nine seconds behind Pedrosa and four behind Lorenzo halfway through the race. The hot conditions proved challenging for the factory Yamahas, Viñales ending up fighting Dovizioso for fifth place and Rossi battling Petrucci for seventh.
Dovizioso won that first battle, relegating Viñales to sixth place, while Rossi started dropping back drastically in the final laps, the championship leader overtaken not only by Petrucci but also by Jonas Folger and Aleix Espargaro.
Despite finishing tenth, Rossi only just keeps the title lead by two points in front of his teammate, Marquez another two points behind, with Pedrosa catching up to trail Rossi by ten points. Game on.
|29||Andrea IANNONE||Suzuki||18 Laps|
|53||Tito RABAT||Honda||18 Laps|
|35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||Honda||22 Laps|
|43||Jack MILLER||Honda||22 Laps|
|19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||Ducati||22 Laps|
|44||Pol ESPARGARO||KTM||22 Laps|