2014 Indianapolis MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Is A Marquez Win Still A Spoiler?

Marc Marquez winning ten races in a row is starting to cause a problem for us here at MotoMatters.com. You see, we have a strict no-spoilers policy on the front page, meaning that we do our very best to write headlines for race and practice results which do not reveal the the winner. That can sometimes result in rather convoluted headlines, trying to convey the sense of the race without giving away who won it.

This is where Marquez is causing us headaches. After winning his tenth race in a row, and all of the races this season, we are starting to wonder whether announcing a Marquez win is actually a spoiler any more. The deeper Marquez gets into record territory – and he is in very deep indeed, matching Giacomo Agostini for winning the first ten races of the season, and Mick Doohan for winning ten in a row, and Doohan, Valentino Rossi, Agostini and Casey Stoner for winning ten or more in one season – the harder it gets to write headlines. It is hard to sum up the story of a race, when the story is all about Marquez and the record books.

So how did Marc Marquez make it ten in a row? It certainly didn't look as easy as some of the other races he has won this year. A poor start left him behind Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso, and battling with Jorge Lorenzo. With track temperatures warmer than they had been all weekend, Marquez found the feeling with the front end not as good as during practice. After a couple of scares, he decided to take his time in the early laps, and follow Rossi around. On lap 11, an unmissable opportunity presented itself. Rossi led into the first corner, with Lorenzo diving up the inside of Marquez to take second. Marquez decided to strike back, and seeing Rossi run just a fraction wide on the entry to Turn 2, stuffed his bike up the inside of the Italian. The gap Rossi had left was big enough for Lorenzo as well, who then tried to hold the inside through Turn 3. That left him on the outside of Marquez for the left hander at Turn 4, and Marquez was gone.

It took him a long while, though, and Marquez' margin of victory was rather modest. In sixteen laps, he could only put a couple of seconds on second place finisher Jorge Lorenzo, and that was after Lorenzo complained it took him too long to get past Valentino Rossi. In the last nine laps, Lorenzo was pretty much on the same pace as Marquez, but the 2013 world champion already had the win in the bag by then. That was causing Marquez some concern. "Here, the Yamahas were stronger that expected, really close to us," Marquez said. "If they are closer here, I expect they will be really close in Brno."

Brno and Silverstone could be the first tracks to cause a real threat to Marquez' winning streak this year. "Now we go to Brno, and later Silverstone, which are two tracks where last year we struggle a little bit more, " Marquez said. "Yamaha was so strong there." Marquez is right to be concerned. Last year at Brno, Marquez had trouble shaking off the Yamahas, and only just managed to hold off his teammate Dani Pedrosa. At Silverstone, Lorenzo managed to get ahead of Marquez on the very last lap, producing a thrilling win for the Yamaha man.

Could Lorenzo do it again? Indianapolis was a sign that the Spaniard was finally turning his season around. He rated the race as his best of the season, on a par with the race at Mugello, where he was just beaten to the line by Marquez. Lorenzo spent his holiday working on his physical fitness, and training hard, swapping between time in the gym and time out on the mountain bike, something he has only just taken up. Riding a mountain bike means he gets outside, and is much more enjoyable than the time he was spending on the stationary bike in the gym. That is providing more motivation, and more motivation means more fitness.

Most of all, Lorenzo regained some of his confidence. It was that which had taken a beating in the first half the season, with the low point coming at Assen. The race at Indy was a little easier for him, the early laps coming on a fully dry track, rather than one which is still damp. That meant Lorenzo could push harder earlier, and build his confidence. He had a poor start, but that meant he had to fight his way forward, something which gave him confidence in the bike and in his ability. He had taken longer than he wanted to get past Rossi, as Rossi was stronger on the brakes, he conceded. By then it was too late to catch Marquez, but his confidence was restored. "It is the first time in a long time I recover positions [in a race], I recover the confidence, and I recover the attitude," Lorenzo said.

Though Valentino Rossi finished third, he was still a happy man, he said. He was happiest of all at having got a rocket start, "like Ron Haslam in the past," Rossi said. How happy? "When I arrive in front in the first corner, I get an erection!" Rossi joked. He knew that Marquez was faster, as he had been all weekend, but being in front was his best hope of beating the Repsol Honda man. He battled long and hard, but in the end, he had to surrender. Despite that, Rossi was happy enough. "This track for me is the worst, or one of the worst, so to get a podium is good," he said afterwards.

Such a strong result at Indy bodes well for Brno. The Czech circuit has been one of Rossi's best tracks in the past, the Italian saying that his results there have often played a crucial part in his championships. Things have not gone so well for Rossi at Brno in recent years, but 2014 could be different.

Where Marquez gains most over his rivals is in sheer consistency. While he keeps winning, Rossi, Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa all take turns on the podium, giving away handfuls of points to Marquez. Before Indianapolis, it was clear that if he kept winning, he could tie up the championship at Aragon. By winning at Indy, and with Pedrosa coming fourth, on a weekend where he never felt comfortable, Marquez expanded his advantage to 89 points. If Marquez keeps winning, and Lorenzo comes second, it would only take one bad weekend for both Pedrosa and Rossi to hand the title to Marquez at Misano.

The most encouraging sight for Ducati fans was Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone in the early laps. Dovizioso led early, and Iannone challenged hard, until Iannone's Pramac Ducati stopped on him. Ducati have suffered far too many technical problems in 2014, with Cal Crutchlow the main victim. But Iannone has also lost his fair share of engines, with four being permanently shelved so far. The engine Iannone used at Indy was one of the new spec, with a bit more power and slightly more torque, and losing that one would be a major annoyance. We won't find out if he has until Brno, however.

In the end, the performance of the Ducati is mitigated by the tires they have to run. The concessions to Ducati – more engines, more testing and a softer rear tire – are both a blessing and a curse, and the rear tire is often a problem. While they allow the Ducatis to push hard in the early laps, once they go off, they quickly lose ground, as happened to Dovizioso, who went from fighting with the front group, to finishing nearly 21 seconds off the winner. Cal Crutchlow, who is far less comfortable pushing in the early laps as he cannot carry the same lean angle as Dovizioso, loses all of his time when the tire is new. Compare the times of Dovizioso and Crutchlow, and you see that while Crutchlow gives away over 11 seconds in the first ten laps, he concedes just 4 seconds in the last ten laps. Three of those seconds were lost in two laps where Crutchlow was behind Scott Redding, with whom he battled all of the race. Redding could follow the pace of Crutchlow easily enough, but when he passed the Ducati rider, the top speed deficit of his Honda RCV1000R meant the pair lost a lot of time.

Crutchlow's times on the old tires show the potential of the Desmosedici when the tires are shot. Dovizioso's times on new tires show the potential of the bike in the hands of someone with a year of experience. The bike isn't as bad as it has been in the past, but it remains a scary beast when on new tires. That takes plenty of getting used to.

What is wrong with the bike? Jeremy Burgess was at Indy, his first visit to a race since being sacked by Valentino Rossi. The fact that Burgess was sporting a #46 cap spoke of the fact that Burgess had taken it well, and the fact that everyone commented on how well, and how relaxed Burgess looked speaks of exactly how unhealthy and mentally draining working in the pressure cooker that is the Grand Prix paddock is. Burgess spoke to a few journalists present, including Dennis Noyes. Burgess told Noyes that the problem with Ducati was one of philosophy: they built an engine with as much power as possible, then tried to control it with electronics. Yamaha and Honda had a different strategy: they tried to build an engine with easily manageable power characteristics, and then set about boosting the power without ruining the ridability. Given the number of race wins and championships of the three factories since Ducati entered MotoGP in 2003, the best strategy is plain to see. If Gigi Dall'Igna's new engine, coming at the beginning of 2015, favors ridability over top end, Ducati will have solved one big part of the puzzle.

For Crutchlow to be battling Redding all race speaks both of Crutchlow's struggle with the Ducati, and of Redding's outstanding weekend at Indianapolis. They had made a step over the summer, Redding said, though the Gresini Honda rider remained frustrated by the lack of top speed. Redding will have to wait until next year, when he will finally get on the RC213V, and get the horsepower he has been missing so far.

A number of crashes and mechanical problems meant that only fifteen riders finished, all of them in the points. Leon Camier was unlucky to run into problems with the electronics – something which has happened a couple of times this season, the Honda production racers not taking kindly to the spec Magneti Marelli ECU – but has already made his mark. Despite his DNF, there were a lot of teams discussing his prospect for 2015 after Indy. Camier has at least one more race to make an impression, subbing for Nicky Hayden while the American recovers from his injuries.

The other American bade an emotional farewell to his fans, Colin Edwards riding his final race in the USA at Indy. The Texan will be sorely missed when he is gone, though frankly, more for the color he brings to the sport, rather than his results in recent years. After the race, the Forward Racing team put out one of the most confusing press releases I have ever read. The press release announced Edwards retirement with immediate effect, but Edwards claimed he will be riding at Silverstone, and possibly at other races. Silverstone looks to be a dead cert, but beyond that, we simply do not know.

If the MotoGP race consolidated Marquez' stranglehold on the MotoGP championship, the Moto2 and Moto3 races had very different effects. Mika Kallio won a restarted Moto2 race by a comfortable margin, but his margin would have been much, much larger if the first race hadn't been red-flagged after an incident with Mattia Pasini, who crashed and briefly lost consciousness, though he was quickly found to be healthy. With championship leader Tito Rabat only managing to finish fourth, Kallio cut his deficit to Rabat to just seven points. Kallio had said that the season really starts at Indy. With his third victory of the season, Kallio is staking his claim. It is to the credit of the Marc VDS Racing team that they see no need to intervene in the championship race. Though frankly, Rabat and Kallio have such an advantage over the riders behind them that there is no need to get involved.

The Moto3 race was as epic as you might expect, with ten men fighting for the win. As expected, the first rider into the final corner was destined to lose, with Efren Vazquez blowing by Romano Fenati to take his first victory in the class. Jack Miller crossed the line in third, having lost touch in the back straight as he scrapped over the right to chase Fenati and Vazquez. Though Miller was frustrated not to win, he still extended his lead in the championship by finishing ahead of Alex Marquez. Miller is leading the Moto3 championship by the same tactic that Marc Marquez is in MotoGP: Miller always beats whoever is closest in the title race, while his rivals spend too much time scrapping among themselves.

Ride of the day has to go to Alexis Masbou in Moto3, the Frenchman who finished fourth. Masbou got caught up in first lap tangle, and crossed the line in 31st. He blasted his way through the field during the race, catching the leaders and finishing just behind Miller. An extraordinary ride for the Ongetta rider.

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When it is all many people expect to hear now. But on another note, you could say something like "barn burner pack fight" and ignore Marquez altogether. (Joking). Those first laps had me going. Even though I was not at home and had to watch the technical issue tv version called Fox Sports. Gotta watch it again on motogp website to see what I missed.

Marquez was Marquez. Rossi put in a good fight. REAL good fight. Lorenzo is showing good form, so good that I thought he really had a good chance of winning. I also feel that Ducati is 2/3 better than it was last year. Do I seemed faster in some corners than Rossi... I will say that again for those that did not read it or understand. Dovisioso on a DUCATI seemed to be faster in some corners than Rossi. It has been YEARS since Ducati seemed faster in any type or part of a corner. Even though Marquez won, the race gave me a lot of hope in many different wAys. Rossi scrapping, Lorenzo on pace, Ducati handling better. Great write up David to an interesting race.

A little bit of preface is required for me to explain the necessity of this post with that heading. As a rule over the years I have come to not like and support Honda and I really do not know if there is any rationale in that. This makes me support riders on other motorcycles and Yamaha is what I like from the rest. I was very happy when Valentino Rossi was doing so well on the Yamaha. But the arrival of Marc Marquez has changed everything. I no longer look at the motorcycle; only the rider. It doesn't bother me in the least that he rides a Honda. I see the kid going and that makes me wish that he wins the race.

Ten out of ten, well it has been done before, but not like it is being done now. I am a great admirer of Mick Doohan but was never his fan since he rode a Honda. I was more of a Wayne Rainey fan and was very comfortable that he rode a Yamaha. But Marquez is so special and so exciting to watch that everything else is not important. I think the only way that Marquez will not win a race this season is if he does not finish a race. Either mechanical troubles, a mistake made by him or being punted out of the race seems the only way that he will not win. The rest of the season will be great because it will show what Marquez will do. Eight races are way too many to bet on his winning every single one of them. So for me it is like what will prevent him from winning. It really is exciting indeed.

Created, set free and now nobody can put a harness on it, let alone put it back in the cage.

Marquez is absolutely amazing. He has a few tenths in hand due to sheer talent, and that combined with his superior race craft, great bike, love of the battle and generally high racing IQ, makes saying he is exceptional an understatement of epic proportions.

But the thought of him winning every race this year has been little more than an entertaining tease to me, and it still is. There are far too many mountains to climb to think this type of perfection is a possibility for 18 consecutive races, in spite of how easily folks toss that possibility around.

First, there is Pedrosa. As utterly destroyed mentally as he may be, and outgunned by a man of greater talent, racecraft and cajones, he has proven year after year that when things are perfect for him, he is virtually unbeatable. When those stars align AND he gets one of his lightning starts, it will be one of those typically boring and unpopular wins, since those types of races are rarely interesting, nor is watching Pedrosa ride (in comparison to MM93 or CS27) nor is watching his interviews post race.

Second, there is the bike. I said this earlier this season, but judging by the number of times that Rossi has beaten Pedrosa (I chose Rossi because I still consider him the slightly weaker of the Yamaha duo), that means to me that the Honda is NOT the all-conquering dominator that it was made out to be. We've all come to realize now that it was Marquez making the difference, although the bike does have some distinct advantages.

That then opens the door for the resurgent Lorenzo. When he is on his game, dude is fast and tough as nails, and with him gradually gaining confidence and fitness, you get the feeling that he will be a man on a mission to deny Marquez at one of his stronger tracks, and if it came down to it, I'd have to to say Valencia as the last race of the season is one of his best. At that point, if it came to that, I'd think his motivation would be FAR higher than Marquez', who would have wrapped up the championship LONG before that.

Then there is Rossi, with the heart of a lion, you feel like if he gets his setup and quali right, he could be there to fight in every race, but he generally just lacks a couple tenths of pace. For him to deny Marquez a victory would the most popular of victories, and I suspect few people would mind seeing Rossi beat him in a straight fight for the pure racing entertainment and post-race reaction value.

But if all these things are obvious barriers to this great feat, the one thing that has plagued every rider since the beginning of time has been tiny issues...a setup problem, an unanticipated weather or track effect, a slightly inconsistent tire....which inexplicably and invisibly to all of us, but always described as "not having the right feeling" by the rider, prevents them from getting the most out of their potential. Marquez has been immune to that so far, but it just seems impossible for that never to strike for an entire season.

Then there is bad luck...like Rossi's tire at COTA, or bike gremlins that are remarkably non-existent these days but can happen any time, or racing incidents born from mistakes or over-exuberance of other riders (Bradl and Crutchlow at Mugello, Bautista on Rossi last year at Mugello, Bautista on Lorenzo two years ago). These things happen, and I'm actually surprised that they don't occur more frequently given how on-the-limit these guys are and the surprising amount of actual contact there is. One only needed to watch the first 5 laps from Indy to wonder how all these guys actually stay on these bikes.

Weather...anything can happen.

A mistake by Marquez.....it is possible, although he seems infallible at the moment, and was remarkably so during his entire rookie season bar Mugello. I can think of two or three racing moments this season when most riders would have gone down, but Marquez somehow bailed himself out, most notably at Assen in mixed conditions when he merely ran off track and gave up a few seconds to Dovi, but that was a HUGE moment.

I say all these things simply to express my opinion that Marquez won't win every race...I wouldn't even give it a 50% chance at this time, nor will I give it any higher probability if he keeps winning. Personally, I hope he does as it will be something we have never seen by someone with talent and style like we have never seen. And if it does happen, we know we are in for a few more barn burners that will have us all on the edge if our seats, even if the championship is long over.

This is still VERY entertaining to me, and as a huge F1 fan, I have practically forgotten that F1 exists relative to what we see in MotoGP. One only needs to watch Marquez ride a fast lap, then watch Hamilton drive a fast lap, and then explain what they saw, to explain the difference in entertainment value. (IMO)

Can't wait to see how all this plays out!!! :)

... it is Marquez making the difference.

You simply don't win from the back, twice in a control engine series like Moto2 without being special.

Its as if people haven't seen what he did in the lower classes and are suddenly surprised that he is taking MotoGP by storm.

The signs have been there for ages that he is special.

What is the point of not allowing bikes to use the hardest option? Don't tell me. let me guess. It is a leftover rule from the CRT days. Where would Dovi have finished if he had a hard rear tyre?

As for the Ducati being fast it is a flowing track. This does not show up the understeer problem.

I was under the impression that flowing was exactly where the understeer was worst. Point/shoot they could square the corners off.

The real victory this weekend, for me, was the track. Finally, after what 7 or 8 years, Indy finally made a decent track of their infield POS. One pavement instead of 3-4, and a more flowing track. I say this is the real victory because of the nasty crashes in the past. We've had some really great riders get in nasty crashes at this circuit and that looks to be mitigated, finally. I still don't think it should be on the calendar but at least the track is decent now and a real case could be made on why it should stay.

I do think Honda has the better machine this year and MM is just exploiting it. I also think George and Vale are better riders than Dani but that is just my opinion. Yamaha are going to have to build a better bike for 2015 to compete with MM on that RC213v. Being close to the Honda in terms of capability is no longer enough with Marquez as the #1. In the past, Jorge could make the difference, or Rossi before him. That's not true any more. Marquez can make some mistakes and still win. A Yamaha rider makes a mistake and it's at best the second step. That's half Marquez, and half the bike. Honda has solved their braking issues and it's astonishing to see a Honda better on the brakes than a Yamaha. And they always have the stronger motor which is also better at fuel consumption. Unless something changes Honda is going to keep spending more than anyone, and they have a rider of the decade or two, so together they could break every damn record in the book because Marc is that good. A very, very tough package for the competitors to real in, maybe the toughest in history. Time will tell.

... this season boring at this stage, it's certainly starting to get frustrating for fans, and likely the top 3 riders chasing Marquez. Maybe it's just me, but it looks like he's been getting too light of treatment from his main rivals on track. I'd like to see these guys race him a bit harder, especially in comparison to how he himself is willing to shove them around. Rough him up aliens!

Have you seen the look of Lorenzo & Rossi post race compared to Marc? They looked completely knackered while Marc looked like he could go out & grid up again immediately.

from my point of view the only real spoiler would be:


it wouldn't reveal who the winner was. and for that matter, it
could be Marquez himself extending his streak.

Feel free to use it if you wish

Now that would be worth watching. But think how embarassing it would be if he was beaten fair and square in Moto2.