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MotoGP – dominant win for Marquez at Brno

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez took a back-to-back victory at Brno in challenging conditions, his third this year and the 58th in his career, extending his championship lead to 14 points over his closest follower.

It was the fifth flag-to-flag race that Marquez has perfectly mastered thanks to a mix of tactics and determination – on this occasion the Spaniard found himself struggling soon after the lights went off, having fitted a soft rear tyre that he wasn’t at ease with on a drying track.

He was the first to roll the dice and pitted on Lap Two, where his team was ready with his second bike fitted with slick tyres. That allowed him to pull a huge gap on his opponents, which he managed until the chequered flag.

Team-mate Pedrosa was also on form and secured a strong second place, bringing his career podium tally to 150 (and his MotoGP podium tally to 109, one more than Jorge Lorenzo) – Pedrosa switched to his second bike on Lap Four and re-entered the race in eighth position. He immediately started riding at a very fast pace, fighting his way forward to second and setting the fastest lap of the race along the way.

Maverick Viñales finished third on the Factory Yamaha, one place ahead of his team-mate Valentino Rossi with Cal Crutchlow rounding out the top five on the LCR Honda.

The all-Spanish rostrum was a fitting way to honour the “Maestro” Angel Nieto, 12+1 World Champion, who passed away on Thursday.

Marquez said: “This was a very special Sunday because everyone was racing for Angel Nieto, but it was also a very challenging race. On the grid, I took the risk to use the soft rear tyre because I thought it would give me extra grip for five laps before pitting to change bikes, but it didn’t go like that.

“I soon started to struggle a lot and lost many positions. When I saw that, I decided to immediately get in and take the risk of the slicks. When I re-joined the race, honestly it was still too damp in some parts and I nearly crashed during the first lap out. When you go out for the flag-to-flag, it’s so difficult to get the feeling with the bike again, but I tried to quickly understand the grip.

“Honestly, today I took some risks but it was one of those days when you just have to do it. After pulling a great gap, I just tried to manage, to ride well, and to finish the race. I’m really very happy with the result. It’s a track I normally struggle at, one I worry about every year, and getting 25 points was very important. The Championship is still very, very tight; we must be able to be fast in every condition.”

MotoGP – Marquez storms to pole in Brno

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On a sunny and hot second day at Brno, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez claimed a stunning pole position for tomorrow’s Czech Grand Prix, his fourth this season and the 69th of his career.
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa was a close third, a mere 0.046” behind Valentino Rossi on the Factory Yamaha in second and just 0.138” off his teammate.
Marquez said: “I’m very happy with today because I knew that making the pole would be tough, as I normally struggle at this track, but I tried for it anyway.
“The test we did here was useful. I felt good already with the first tyre, even if I nearly crashed as I was pushing very hard. I tried to ride smoothly but still brake hard. With the second tyre, I gave it all I had and we got this pole. I’m very, very happy.
“Tomorrow we’ll see what weather conditions we have, as it looks a bit unstable and not as warm. It will be a long, hard race but we should be able to fight for the podium in either the dry or the wet, so we’re looking forward to it and to enjoying the race.”
Both Marquez and Pedrosa had already displayed a fast pace in the FP3 session, taking P1 and P2 respectively despite suffering a crash each in the early stages, Marquez going down at Turn 10 because of an oil spill from another rider’s bike and Pedrosa sliding out at Turn 8 while pushing hard.

MotoGP – Marqyez extends German winning streak

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Reigning Champion takes eighth successive win at the Sachsenring, under pressure from a stunning rookie ride by home hero Folger.

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has taken an incredible eighth win in a row at the Sachsenring, extending his run from the 125 World championship to another year of the premier class – with all those wins from pole.

However, it was anything but easy, however – with German rookie Jonas Folger on the Tech 3 Yamaha pushing the reigning champion throughout the race in a stunning ride to his first podium. Dani Pedrosa on the seconf Repsol Honda completed the podium.

Marquez took the lead into Turn 1 from pole, with teammate Dani Pedrosa slotting into second as Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo sliced through from P6 on the grid to third, pushing Pramac’s Danilo Petrucci and Jonas Folger back.

Marquez and Pedrosa began to pull away in the lead as Folger charged through to get himself into third, and then started threatening the Repsol Honda duo in the lead.

The Tech 3 rookie look composed and smooth and quickly took Pedrosa and prepared to attack Marquez – pushing through soon after and below lap record pace.

With Petrucci through on Lorenzo into fourth, it was Valentino Rossi on the factory Yamaha who struck next, with the Italian, Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati and Petrucci battling for fourth as Pedrosa began to drop back from the lead duo.

Folger then headed wide and Marquez took the opportunity, but couldn’t shake the German.

That’s the way it stayed – with Marquez’ pitboard remaining +0.1 lap after lap, and the rookie not for giving up. Facing down the reigning.
Finally it was a small mistake that saw Folger run deep, and Marquez pulled the pin to stretch the gap – eventually crossing the line for win number eight just over three seconds clear.

Folger’s tyres were shot, but he kept his head to cross the line in second for his first premier class podium, sealing the deal in an incredible performance at his home race. Dani Pedrosa completed the podium after a more lonely ride in the latter stages, also bouncing back from a tough Dutch GP.

As the top ten battled it out further, Rossi found his fourth under attack from Dovizioso, with team-mate Viñales then joining the fight. After some stunning wheel-to-wheel action, it was Viñales who took P4, with teammate Rossi close behind to complete the top five.

Bautista took P6 after an impressive ride, with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro crossing the line in seventh for a good haul of points for the Noale factory ahead of the summer break.

Championship leader going into the race, Dovizioso crossed the line in eighth and remains third in the standings – ahead of a stunning comeback from Johann Zarco (who guided his Tech  Yamaha to ninth after fighting from P19 on the grid. LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow completed the top ten, with Jorge Lorenzo crossing the line in P11 after running at the front earlier in the race.

Danilo Petrucci was another who fell back, taking twelfth ahead of another double points finish for Red Bull KTM’s Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith. Jack Miller on the Marc VDS Honda completed the top fifteen.

Marquez said: “I’m very, very happy. I knew before the weekend that this was an important moment in the Championship and that the Sachsenring was an important circuit for us. It was the place to take a risk if necessary and to try to win. So I’m happy we took these 25 points and the lead in the Championship before the summer break.

“I wish to dedicate this win to Nicky (Hayden) and his family. I had promised this to myself after his incident because we had some very good moments together and he was a friend.

“The race was very tight. Honestly, before the start I thought I would have to battle with Dani, but actually there was also another very fast opponent. I was very surprised at the beginning to see Jonas there, and I thought he might stay in between with the other riders, but he actually remained there! He was quite a tough opponent!

“The Championship is very close with four riders within 10 points and with Dani also not far away. Everything is open, so we’ll keep the same mentality, the same positivity and hard work. Now we have a few days of holidays, but not too much to be ready for Brno test!”

 

 

MotoGP – Pedrosa takes stunning pole at Barcelona

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Dani Pedrosa delivered an astonishing performance this afternoon in the Catalan sunshine, taking pole position for the second time this year.

Pedrosa started the day by setting the second-fastest time in the FP3 session before going on to top the standings in both FP4 and qualifying. He was the only rider able to crack the 1’44” barrier, setting a 1’43.870 time that earned him his 30th pole in MotoGP and the 48th of his career.

Pedrosa said: “I’m very happy because taking pole is always very difficult, and doing it in front of your home fans is just amazing. Last year we struggled a lot in qualifying, while this season we’ve already earned two poles, so I wish to thank my team for the good work. We’ve worked really hard on this aspect, and we’re getting better and better.

“The conditions were quite difficult today, especially for the tyres as it was very hot and the grip wasn’t the best. We tried to manage the situation as well as possible, working a lot on the setup to improve tyre life. The tyres will be the key to the race tomorrow; it’d be great to have the same feeling from today, but we’ll wait and see. We’ll just remain focused and be prepared to do our best.”

MotoGP – dominant Pedrosa writes his name in the history books with Jerez win

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Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa gave a riding masterclass on his way to victory at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España at Jerez.

The Spaniard, starting from pole position, led the race from the first corner to the chequered flag, and set the race’s fastest lap on the way to taking his 30thwin in MotoGP – the 53rdin his career.

In winning the 3,000thGrand Prix race ever held, Pedrosa also earned the Repsol Honda Team’s 100thvictory in the MotoGP class and became the only rider to have won at least one race for 16 consecutive years.

Pedrosa got the holeshot from a great start off pole position, with team-mate Marquez slotting in behind ahead of an almighty tousle for third. LCR Honda rider Crutchlow was initially ahead of that battle, with Tech 3’s Johann Zarco tangling once again with championship leader Valentino Rossi on the Factory Yamaha until the flying Frenchman set off on a charge, taking bike after bike in now-signature style.

Arriving behind reigning Champion Marquez into third, the rookie held station for a lap as Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo fought back in a tight midfield, getting past the Yamaha pair of Rossi and then Maverick Viñales. Zarco then took Marquez at the final corner, heading off after Pedrosa in the lead until the reigning Champion hit back.

It proved to be an incident packed race and drama struck further back as Jack Miller on the Marc VDS Honda and Alvaro Bautista on the Aspar Ducati collided and slid out, before Cal Crutchlow then lowsided into the gravel at Criville – followed shortly by the Red Bull KTM machine of Pol Espargaro. After a short tussle with Viñales, Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone also tumbled out with 17 laps to go.

The gap fluctuated at the front but Marquez was unable to make any real impression on Pedrosa’s lead, with the three-time World Champion pulling the pin in the final laps to cross the line in clear air for another stunning win – making it 16 years in a row the Spaniard has taken at least one victory in the world championship.

Reigning champion Marquez settled for second, with Lorenzo finishing third to taking his first podium with Ducati. Zarco took fourth in another scintillating performance from the rookie, ahead of an impressive fight back for Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, who managed to get past Viñales after the Spaniard made a mistake.

Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci stormed back through from P13 on the grid to follow Viñales over the line, with Tech 3’s Jonas Folger putting in a solid ride once again to take eighth.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro was another who moved through the field, incredibly taking 2016 Jerez winner and championship leader Valentino Rossi for ninth – the ‘Doctor’ found his pace in freefall in the latter laps of the race, struggling with tyre life in the hot temperatures to complete the top ten – but retaining the Championship lead.

Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding had a much improved race in 2017 to take P11, ahead of Hector Barbera and teammate Loris Baz on the Avintia Racing Ducati’s. Bradley Smith took more points for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in P14 after an awesome show for the Austrian factory in Jerez, with Karel Abraham on the Aspar Ducati locking out the top fifteen.

Pedrosa said: “I’m super-happy with this win in Jerez, a track that I love very much, and in front of my family, my friends, and all these amazing fans. I’m enjoying this emotion so much, more than I would’ve done a few years ago, in a more ‘conscious’ way. I’ve had a great feeling all weekend, and the team have worked so well; we’re getting better race by race and I’m very happy for them as well.

“We knew we were in a position to have the race we actually did. I felt the tension a little bit before the start, but I remained concentrated and got away well at the start and just went for it.

“Today the track conditions were a bit worse than yesterday and the front was sliding quite a lot. I chose the hard front because of today’s high temperature, even if the medium was my favourite. The pace probably would’ve been faster with the medium, but anyway I was happy with my choice.

“When Marc started to push, we started a little battle like yesterday in qualifying. I knew he was very fast but I was determined to keep a gap on him. It was easy to make a mistake, to lose the front, so it was a matter of staying on the limit without going over it.

“It’s also a special honour to be the winner of the 3,000th Grand Prix race and be alongside riders like Mick (Doohan, who won race number 2,000) and Angel (Nieto, who won race number 1,000).”

After Pedrosa’s stunning domination on home turf, the championship heads to  Le Mans with Rossi now two points clear of Viñales, Marquez just behind and Pedrosa now fourth in the standings – only ten points back.

MotoGP – rampant Pedrosa storms to pole at Jerez

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Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa took an incredible pole position in qualifying for the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, securing the top spot with a sensational flying lap in the final minutes of the session at Jerez.

The Spaniard took  his 29thin MotoGP and the 47thin his career, edging teammate Marc Marquez by just half a tenth in a breath-taking battle for the top spot, with LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow in third completing  an all-Honda front row for the first time since the German GP in 2014 (at the Sachsenring).

Pedrosa has looked rejuvenated at Jerez, leading every session this weekend apart from today’s FP4, riding consistently fast in every condition. It will be Pedrosa’s first start from pole since Malaysia in 2015, and he’ll do so at the 3,000th Grand Prix of the world championship.

Factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales took fourth to head up the second row ahead of Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone , with rookie Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in sixth.

Fourteen world titles start the Spanish GP from the third row, with Championship leader Valentino Rossi in seventh on the second Factory Yamaha just ahead of Ducati Jorge Lorenzo. Tech 3’s Jonas Folger is ninth in another solid showing for the German rookie.Jack Miller backed up his Friday pace with direct entry to Q2 and a top ten start on his Marc VDS satellite Honda despite a crash, with Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding in eleventh and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro in twelfth.

Pedrosa said: “This was probably one of the best poles of my career because it was a really hard battle. It was a strategic end of the session with Marc there right behind me, so for a moment I wasn’t sure if I should push or not. There was no choice anyway, so I just went for it. I’m very happy because our main target for the GP was to be on the front row. The feeling was really good, and it has been good all weekend, so I told myself, Okay, let’s try it. It has been a while since I’ve led in qualifying; I’ve struggled a lot last season so I’m very happy with today.”

MotoGP – Marquez still unbeatable on US soil

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Marc Marquez took his first win of the season in sensational style, his stunning fifth win in a row in Austin and his 11th straight win on US soil, to get his title defence back on track.

The Repsol Honda rider was initially in an intense battle with team-mate Dani Pedrosa for victory in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, before being able to break clear in the latter laps of the race to take the chequered flag.

Marquez said: “This was a crucial race because after Argentina it was important to come back in the best way, so we are really happy with this result.

“Although I won, it was difficult, because the temperature was much higher than yesterday. Five minutes before the start, I said to my chief mechanic, ‘Okay, let’s use the hard tyre’ because I knew that I would push the medium front tyre a lot.

“In the beginning I was just trying to understand the limit because I hadn’t tried it a lot on Friday. I was behind Dani and when I saw that he was struggling a little bit and Valentino was challenging, I said, ‘Time to attack.’ I was able to win, and I’m happy to be back in the championship.”

It was a mixed day for the factory Yamaha squad – former championship leader Maverick Viñales crashed out early on, while Valentino Rossi put on a late charge to take second, despite being given a time penalty for gaining an unfair advantage.

The start of the race saw Pedrosa get a blistering launch from the second row of the grid to take the lead as the Spaniard overtook team-mate and polesitter Marquez to lead through Turn 1, with Rossi tucked in behind the two Repsol Honda machines.

Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo also got a great launch from P6 to overtake Maverick Viñales, and the two men duked it out until Tech 3’s Johann Zarco got into the action, following Viñales past the Mallorcan – before the drama struck.

After two wins from two in the first races of the season, Viñales then suddenly slid out of contention – lowsiding safely, but out of the fight for victory and taking home zero points  for the first time since Argentina 2016.

LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow was also making progress, moving up from P9 on the grid to take the factory Ducati duo for fifth behind rookie sensation Johann Zarco, with Andrea Dovizioso getting the best of Lorenzo to move into sixth.

A moment between Zarco and Rossi then saw the ‘Doctor’ taking to the run off as the rookie attempted a move, punting the Italian off track. The nine-time champion was forced to straightline the corner, rejoining the track a little further ahead and subsequently receiving a 0.3 second penalty for time gained, to be applied at the end of the race. A strange, and harsh, decision by Race Control.

It was then the Repsol Hondas’ time to duel, as Marquez and Pedrosa diced for the lead, with the number 93 machine eventually pouncing with 13 laps to go.

As the last laps approached, Crutchlow battled with Zarco to take fourth as top independent team rider and Rossi striking against Pedrosa to take third, with Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone also making it past Lorenzo in some late battles to take his first points haul of the season in P7.

Pramac’s Danilo Petrucci also steered his satellite Ducati past a Lorenzo struggling with grip to take eighth, with the five-time champion crossing the line in P9. Marc VDS rider Jack Miller just beat rookie Jonas Folger on the other Tech 3 Yamaha to complete the top ten, as the Aussie fulfilled his goal for 2017 once again in the third race of the season.

 

MotoGP – Marquez fastest on first day of testing at Phillip Island

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The second official MotoGP test of 2017 saw blue skies greet the riders at Phillip Island, and by the end of Day One Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez topped the timesheets, with the  Spaniard posting a 1:29.497 lap.

Marquez spent the day working with the engine specification chosen in Sepang alongside teammate Dani Pedrosa, and the reigning Champion put in 68 laps and set his best on his 53rd. Pedrosa, who spent most of the day in P4 before a late charge from some others in the top ten, ended the first session in seventh on a 1:30.281, after 55 laps.

The Factory Yamaha squad held second on the timesheets for most of the latter part of Day 1, first with Maverick Viñales and later with Valentino Rossi, with the Italian finishing the day in P2 on a 1:29.683. The rider from Tavullia also saved a potential crash earlier in the session. Viñales, who did a best of 1:29.989 after 64 laps, didn’t better his time towards the end as his new teammate and Rossi’s compatriot Andrea Iannone did, moving Viñales down to P4.

Iannone shot up the timesheets on his Suzuki near the end of the day, taking third overall with a 1:29.926 after having spent much of the session outside the top ten. The “Maniac” completed 70 laps and set his fastest on number 68.

LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow completed the top five with a 1:30.065. Crutchlow was another Honda pilot testing a version of the new specification engine for Honda, and put in a late charge to move up, doing 61 laps and setting his fastest on his final effort.

And what of the Ducatis? Andrea Dovizioso finished the day in eighth with a 1:30.410, while new teammate Jorge Lorenzo continued his progress as he focuses on adapting to the machine, spending much of the day in the top ten and one of the first out on track. The “Spartan” did 61 laps with a best of 1:30.631, taking 11th place.

Testing continues at Phillip Island on Thursday, with the grid eager to head back out and continue their 2017 preparations as lights out in Qatar begins to loom large.

MotoGP – Marquez claims seventh pole of season at Phillip Island

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has taken pole position at Phillip Island, as the new World Champion chose the perfect moment to head out in the changeable conditions on full slick tyres. It was his 37th pole in MotoGP and the 65th in his career, which is also the new historical record, at just 23 years of age. It’s also Marc’s seventh pole of 2016, meaning that the Spaniard has already won the BMW M Award for the best-qualifying MotoGP rider of the season, a feat he has achieved every year since entering the premier class.

With Q1 seeing some incredibly high profile casualties, it was LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow and Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo who moved through to fight for the front, leaving Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales and Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi behind – with Rossi in P15 on the grid in his worst qualifying since 2011.

The track was drying in Q1, and drier by the start of Q2. With rain forecast to hit halfway through the second qualifying session however, the pressure was on to do a good lap – and choose the right tyre. With some heading out on intermediates, Marquez then came back in quickly to switch to slicks – untouchable from that point on, and 1.5 seconds clear a few minutes later until the grid began to reel him closer. Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro was late to switch, attempting a fast lap on the intermediates, before coming back in for slicks and then taking the front row – as Crutchlow didn’t quite take the full gamble, and set his front row qualifier on an intermediate front and slick rear.

Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro shone in the session to challenge for the front – just beaten over the line by his brother – and will start fourth, ahead of Aussie Jack Miller on the Marc VDS at his home race, who completed the top five in his best ever qualifying result. Locking out Row 2 is Octo Pramac Yakhnich rider Danilo Petrucci.

Nicky Hayden, riding in place of injured Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda, took an impressive P7 on his return to MotoGP, ahead of Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider Stefan Bradl – who is also set to become Hayden’s teammate in 2017 at Honda World Superbike Team. Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso is ninth to complete the third row, finding going a little tougher as the track dried. His teammate, Hector Barbera – standing in for injured Andrea Iannone – completed the top ten.

Pramac’s Scott Redding will start from eleventh, ahead of five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo, who once again struggled in the tricky conditions after having graduated from Q1.

Marquez said: “I’m happy because, in addition to the pole, I was able to put in five laps and I noticed some things we can improve tomorrow. For example, we can get more grip, especially with the rear and on corner entry. In FP4, in the wet, I felt very comfortable, so this weekend we’re getting things right and we have to maintain this dynamic. Tomorrow’s race is still an unknown because we aren’t sure what tyres we’ll use, nor who our rivals will be, but we’ll try to make the best of any situation we find.”

 

MotoGP –Hayden gets Factory ride filling in for Pedrosa at Phillip Island

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Former MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden is to roll back the years and  throw a leg over a Factory Honda again, filling in for Repsol Honda’s crocked Dani Pedrosa at Phillip Island.

Pedrosa broke his collarbone in a monster highside during free practice at Motegi, and Honda WSBK pilot has got the call, fresh from filling in for an injured Jack Miller earlier in the season.

Hayden said: “First of all my best wishes to Dani, I’m sure he will come back stronger than ever like he always does. For me it’s crazy hard work but it’s a chance, ten years after winning my world title, to get back to my old “dream team”!

“Doing a weekend in Phillip Island on a factory Honda, it’s pretty emotional for me to even think about it, and I’m very grateful for this opportunity and the trust that Honda gives me. I want also to thank my current team for allowing me to go and do this, and the sponsors. Everybody worked a lot on every detail to make it possible for me so now I’m excited to get on a plane, to get down to Phillip Island and hopefully I can do a good job for the team.

“Regarding Phillip Island there are two things to always consider, the weather and the tyres but it’s a track I love and I can’t wait to ride the bike there. Let’s get started on Friday morning and go forward”.