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GP Week : Issue 152
Can nobody stop Marc Marquez? Pol Espargaro managed it at Jerez when the race was shortened unexpectedly. But he couldn’t at Estoril, in spite of a Herculean effort on the last lap. The younger Spaniard took his second win in three races to stretch his early title lead. He is looking inexorable. Marquez (Repsol Suter) started from pole, and led into the first corner. At the end of lap two Thomas Luthi (Inter wetten Suter) edged ahead, and stayed there until lap 19. As usual, it was never by much. By then the lead group had shrunk to three, Espargaro the other, after class rookie Johann Zarco (Motobi) – prominent until then – drifted two and then three seconds behind. Over the last five laps Luthi also lost touch slightly, though the last-lap drama all but handed second place back to the Swiss rider. What a last lap it was. And what a fierce competitor is Marquez. Espargaro attacked into the first corner. Marquez immediately regained the place. Ditto at the next corner. And at the third. There was just one more chance ... the tight uphill chicane. But Espargaro tried too hard, nearly lost it under brakes, and ran wide. Marquez won by almost two seconds, the furthest away he’d been all afternoon. Espargaro narrowly held on to second; Zarco was safe in fourth. Andrea Iannone (Speed Up) had been with the leaders in the early stages after battling past front-row qualifier Scott Redding (Kalex), who thereafter fell back rapidly. Then on lap 11 the Italian had a major moment under braking at the end of the back straight, saving disaster but running wide. He fought back through the chase group, escaping to finish within 1.2 seconds of Zarco. Behind him a grisly gang was finally led over the line by Alex de Angelis (Suter), from former champion Toni Elias (Suter), Julian Simon (Suter) and Mika Kallio (Kalex). Smith (Tech 3) rounded out the top ten, with Redding 11th. Marquez now has 70 points; Espargaro 61. Luthi is third on 43, then Iannone (33), Redding (28) and Zarco (23). For once the last race of the day, the droning 250 singles had a race of pairs. The two up front were Sandro Cortese (KTM) and Maverick Vinales (FTR Honda). And they were still matched to within inches over the line. The two had broken clear by half distance, with Vinales leading over the line more often than not, but Cortese as often able to blow past by the end of the long straight. Only to lose the position again on the twists. It would clearly go to the wire, and they were side by side repeatedly on the last lap. But it wasn’t quite that simple. In the last corner they came upon a gaggle of back-markers, adding a different dimension to the sprint to the line. Cortese went one way and Vinales the other, and when they got to the flag there were separated by only six hundredths of a second. Portuguese hero Miguel Oliveira (Suter Honda) might have made a difference, lying second at the end of lap two. He would get no further, cruising to the pits slumped in despair with a terminally sick engine. Luis Salom (Kalex KTM) and Efren Vazquez (FTR Honda) were also up front early on, but only Salom stayed there, joined by Malaysian KTM rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin (KTM) by lap eight to take the second pair. It was only in the final lap that Salom managed to get ahead, securing the rostrum by just over a second. Vazquez’s dancing partner was Italian rookie Niccolo Antonelli (FTR Honda), with Vazquez taking fifth. But by the end they had been joined by the leaders of what had been a gang of nine for most of the race, with Alex Rins (Suter Honda) taking seventh less than a second adrift. He had Danny Kent (KTM) less than a tenth adrift; a second away came the rest of the group, six riders covered by less than two seconds: Alexis Masbou (Honda), Jakub Kornfeil (FTR Honda), Brad Binder (Kalex KTM), Hector Faubel (Kalex KTM), Arthur Sissis (KTM) and Alberto Moncayo (Kalex KTM); with younger brother Alex Marquez (Suter Honda) taking the final point another second away. Cortese leads Vinales 57 points to 55, then Salom (49), Fenati (45) and Khairuddin (29). Erstwhile leader Fenati did not finish, after tangling with Kent and crashing out. MOTO2 MORE AND MORE MARQUEZ MOTO3 CORTESE WINS BY A HAIR’S BREADTH 32 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> ESTORIL