Quotes from The Matrix notwithstanding, what appeared a foregone conclusion in Sunday’s Indianapolis MotoGP race was just that: Marc Marquez, who led every practice, won in dominating fashion, finishing three seconds ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa.
It wasn’t just the win that earned his rivals’ attention. Marquez shattered the pole and race lap records in the process; He won his third race in a row and fourth overall -- every American round -- and the rookie now leads the championship by a nearly a full race or 21 points over his Repsol teammate with eight races to go.
Moreover, he appears to be getting stronger as the season wears on.
Jorge Lorenzo, who fought gamely out front in the early part of the race, gave in to Marquez’s greater pace at the halfway mark and then opened the door to Pedrosa with three laps to go. His third-place finish leaves him 35 points shy of the championship lead.
Even with Marquez’s greater pace, the three stayed clustered for most of the race, a master class of smooth, aggressive riding at the limit.
Deeper in the order, it was a very different story. If the front could be compared to fine dining, the back of the pack was a barroom punch out.
Valentino Rossi, who lingered in seventh for much of the race, made a dramatic late charge on worn tires. Over eight late laps, he ran some of the race’s fastest laps and barged past Stefan Bradl and later, Alvaro Bautista. On the last lap, he stuffed his Yamaha past Cal Crutchlow’s satellite bike to take a surprising fourth. Crutchlow finished fifth right on Rossi’s tail.
Bautista, who nearly got taken out in Rossi’s pass on Crutchlow came in sixth and Bradl arrived as a lonely seventh. Then came the Ducati teammates, Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso. Hayden, with little to lose in front of his home fans and no contract for next year, put nasty block pass on his teammate in the final corner of the last lap. The riders collided and went wide with Hayden now out front.
For a moment it looked as it Hayden had taken eighth but a canny Bradley Smith slipped to the inside of the fighting Ducatis and nipped Hayden to the line by half of a wheel length. Hayden finished ninth and Dovizioso tenth.
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Bike||Time / Diff.|
|13||5||Colin EDWARDS||FTR Kawasaki||+1'09.462|
|14||71||Claudio CORTI||FTR Kawasaki||+1'15.207|
|19||67||Bryan STARING||FTR Honda||1 Lap|
|68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||ART||10 Laps|
|52||Lukas PESEK||Ioda-Suter||13 Laps|
|14||Randy DE PUNIET||ART||22 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|79||Blake YOUNG||APR||0 Lap|