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GP Week : Issue 160
Cal Crutchlow MOTO2: MARQUEZ UNSTOPPABLE, ESPARGARO STOPPED MOTO3: MAVERICK BY INCHES IN THRILLER Some riders seem especially lucky. The beneficiary this time, not for the first time, was Marc Marquez. While two major title rivals crashed out, the CatalunyaCaixa Suter rider waited his time, and took a third and well-won victory. Marquez was on pole, but Pol Espargaro (40 HP Kalex) led from the start only to crash spectacularly on the second lap, slumping in despair as Dominique Aegerter (Technomag Suter) led past. By then Thomas Luthi (Inter wetten Suter)had already gone: knocked off in the first tight corners by an impulsive Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda Suter). Wilairot remounted, only to crash again later on. Andrea Iannone (Speed Master) took over up front on lap four, with Marquez struggling in the early stages with rear grip and now fourth, behind Aegerter and Scott Redding (Marc VDS Kalex). Redding took over second on lap seven, and Iannone took advantage, taking the gap to 1.7 seconds by lap ten, and up to better than three seconds three laps later. It looked like one of his typical runaways, even though Marquez had eventually got ahead of the Briton after a number of attempts that hard-riding Redding promptly reversed. But it was not to be. Leading had taken the bite out of his tyres; he couldn’t hold the pace. A lead of 3.3 seconds on lap 14 had been halved three laps later, and with four left to go Marquez was on him. Iannone fought back; they swapped to and fro several times. The Italian led as they started the final lap, Marquez swept past on the first corner ... but the Italian’s counter-attack went sour when he missed a gear. He was second by four tenths. “I had problems early on, but I thought at the end that when the tyres go maybe I would have a chance,” said Marquez. Redding battled back ahead of Esteve Rabat (HP 40 Kalex) for a second rostrum in a row, narrowly ahead of Alex de Angelis (NGM FTR) and Bradley Smith (Tech 3). Aegerter was a couple of seconds adrift. Class rookie Johann Zarco (JIR Motobi) eventually triumphed over Toni Elias (Mapfre Suter) and Randy Krummenacher (Team Switzerland Kalex), the trio catching Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Kalex), and only Krummenacher not in front of him. Marquez extended his lead while Iannone took over second, 127 points to 104. No-scorers Espargaro and Luthi languish on 96 apiece; Redding is closing on 86. How long can you hold your breath? The Moto3 race stretched credibility, with little opportunity to inhale over 38 minutes and 45 seconds. Few could remember seeing so many so close for so long. As they approached half distance the top 20 were still covered by less than 2.5 seconds. When a lead group did break away it was five strong, and the first four crossed the line in less than a second. It took a photo-finish to establish the order behind Maverick Vinales (Blusens FTR Honda). The Spaniard’s fourth win, third in a row, came after a dominant performance under the most severe pressure. He led more laps than anybody, and managed it without resorting to violent tactics. The same couldn’t be said of runner up Sandro Cortese (Red Bull KTM), lucky to escape censure for several dubious moves including one that all but took out his team-mate Danny Kent, who was eventually awarded third, a tenth behind Cortese and a mere thousandth clear of Luis Salom (RW Kalex KTM). Kent had led away from his first front-row start, and led again as they started the last lap. But he was elbowed aside by the more experienced Vinales and Cortese, and only just got back ahead of Salom on the exit from the chicane. Frenchman Louis Rossi (RTG FTR Honda) was still close at the finish, just half-a-second behind over the line. The gang behind was hardly less dramatic. Rookie Alex Rins (Suter Honda) was clear at the end for sixth; then in short order came Masbou (Honda), Ajo (KTM), Vazquez (FTR Honda), Oliveira (Suter Honda) to complete the top ten, Khairuddin and Fenati still inches behind. Rookie Antonelli had been impressive in the front gang until his wild riding ended in a crash; Australian Jack Miller was black-flagged after failing to see penalty flags after a jumped start. Vinales extended his lead over Cortese to seven, 130 to 123. Salom has 88, Fenati 65 and Rossi 56. 25 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> ASSEN