Marc Marquez moved to the top of the standings after a dramatic Spanish MotoGP. Picture:

Jerez de la Frontera, Spain – Marc Marquez cruised to an unchallenged win in  his home Grand Prix and moved to the top of the standings after Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa took each other and Lorenzo’s Ducati Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso out eight laps from the end.

Top South African rider Brad Binder (KTM) took a hard-fought sixth in Moto2, but Steven Odendaal, who came up from 21st on the grid to run as high as 17th, crashed out of 24th on the second-last lap, and Binder’s younger brother Darryn had to sit out the Moto3 race after crashing in practice and dislocating his shoulder.


Honda’s reigning champion Marquez took a stunning second win of the season - and his second win at Jerez - fighting to the front and just able to pull away into clear air, while huge drama hit the race at Turn 6 behind him, leaving Johann Zarco (Yamaha Tech 3) and Andrea Iannone (Suzuki) to come through to complete the podium.

Lorenzo got the holeshot after an unbelievable launch from the second row, taking the lead ahead of Pedrosa and Zarco in third as polesitter Cal Crutchlow (Honda) lost out off the line; Marquez remained where he’d qualified in fifth.

Lorenzo pushed early from the front to set the pace, with Pedrosa holding station in second as Marquez, Crutchlow and Zarco squabbled for third, until Zarco had a big moment and dropped back.

Then Crutchlow crashed out, just as Dovizioso came up top join the leading group, and Marquez sliced past Lorenzo to take over in the lead.

Seven laps later Dovizioso outbraked Lorenzo into Turn 6, but ran wide at the apex; Lorenzo then dived back in side to reclaim second, only to find Pedrosa, who had quietly taken advantage of the Ducati Team-mates carving each other up to sneak through on inside, right where he needed to be.

It is to Lorenzo’s credit that he was trying to pull the Ducati upright when the two collided, but it was too little, too late, as Pedrosa’s Honda spat him off hard and sent Lorenzo careering into Dovizioso’s machine. The Ducati riders were shaken but not stirred, but Pedrosa seemed to be in considerable discomfort as he limped off the track, his bike still lying on the circuit as the rest of the fled streamed by.

They were led by Yamaha satellite rider Zarco, who was now second with seven laps to go – but there was more drama to come, as Ducatio privateer Danilo Petrucci and Yamaha team leader Valentino Rossi closed in on Suzuki rider Andrea Iannone in third.

Iannone, however, was able to respond by opening a small but crucial gap on the final lap, despite Rossi having pulled back an awesome amount of distance on the penultimate lap to get on terms.

But it was Iannone who came home third – by less than half a second for the third consecutive Suzuki podium, with Petrucci fourth and Rossi fifth in a race during which he completed a lap of the world, having raced the equivalent distance of the circumference of the earth at the end of lap 15.

Jack Miller (Ducati) dropped off the battle for third in the final laps to come home sixth, Maverick Viñales on the second factory Yamaha making some progress from outside the top 10 in the initial stages to finish seventh.
Eighth was the best result of 2018 so far for Ducati privateer Alvaro Bautista, after dicing with Viñales for much of the race. Top rookie Franco Morbidelli (Honda) was ninth - his first top 10 result in the premier class and Mika Kallio, wildcarding on a prototype of the 2019 KTM RC16, completed the top 10 with another superb ride.




Lorenzo Baldassarri (Kalex) took his second Moto2 victory, moving him up to second in the championship, while KTM works rider Miguel Oliveira came from 14th on the grid to take a superb second. Francesco Bagnaia (Kalex) finished third, keeping him at the top of the standings, as 2017 race winner Alex Marquez (Kalex) crashed out at Turn 2.

Launching from pole, Baldassarri didn’t get the start he wanted, losing out to Marquez, Binder (KTM) and Bagnaia as the pack headed into Turn 2. There was drama at Turn 6 on the opening lap as Luca Marini (Kalex) outbraked himself into the hairpin, collecting the rear tyre of Jorge Navarro’s Kalex and taking them both down.

Meanwhile, Oliveira was making up the places after a cracking start, up to eighth on the opening lap. 

Baldassarri hit the front for the first time on lap three, with Binder, Bagnaia, Marquez and Oliveira in close pursuit. He pushed on, creating a small gap between himself and Binder in second after setting a new race lap record, with the former Moto3 world champion starting to struggle on his KTM.

By lap seven, Oliveira and Marquez were the two keeping Baldassarri honest, as the lead three pulled slightly away from Bagnaia, Xavi Vierge (Kalex), Binder, Mattia Pasini (Kalex) and Romano Fenati (Kalex) - who then crashed in Turn 10 while battling with Pasini, but walked away unhurt.

11 laps in and the front three were still ahead, however disaster then struck for Marquez. Pushing to stay in touch, he lost the front in Turn 2, a carbon copy of older brother Marc’s crash at the same corner.

Baldassarri wheelied across the line, with Oliveira and Bagnaia - who held off Vierge by half a second - rounding off the podium. Pasini came home a solid fifth, with Binder settling for sixth. Marcel Schrӧtter (Kalex) finished a phenomenal seventh despite torn ligaments in his shoulder, with KTM team-mates Sam Lowes and Iker Lecuona, and Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up) rounding out the top 10.



Philipp Oettl took his first Grand Prix win on his 91st start, emerging from a dramatic  18th  lap face Marco Bezzecchi in a last lap duel and drag to the line, coming out on top by just half a tenth. Completing and all-KTM podium was Marcos Ramirez, back on the rostrum at his home race after some late drama saw rookie Alonso Lopez (Honda) lose one position from where he’d crossed the line – third after, an early run off and stunning ride through the pack.

That wasn’t the biggest drama late in the race, however, after a multiple pile-up with just four laps to go gave the standings a serious shake up. Aron Canet (Honda) overcooked it in Turn 6 and collided with championship rival Jorge Martin (Honda); as they went down their bikes also skittled Enea Bastianini (Honda) and Tony Arbolino (Honda) taking all four out of the race.

That left Bezzecchi at the top of the pile, eight points clear of previous leader Martin.

It was Martin who took the holeshot off the line, with team-mate Fabio Di Giannantonio slotting into second as a crash at Turn 2 saw John McPhee (KTM) collide with Dennis Foggia (KTM) and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Honda).

But 18 riders remained in a huge fight for the lead, as the classic Moto3 chopping and changing lit up the circuit.

Then Lopez made a big error when fighting for second, running off track briefly as he attempted to attack eventual winner Oettl and dropping back out of the points and facing a battle back through. He pulled that off in style to cross the line third and then lose one position to be classified fourth.

Second rookie home Jaume Masia was another who, like team-mate Ramirez ahead of him, put in an impressive ride through the pack to finish fifth, ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki (Honda).

Di Giannantonio, after dropping a little off the leaders following an earlier mistake, crossed the line seventh ahead of Jakub Kornfeil (KTM), while 2014 Asia Talent Cup champion Kaito Toba (Honda) had a stunning race but finished ninth after drama at the final corner and Gabriel Rodrigo (KTM), rounded out the top 10 despite a big crash on Saturday.


IOL Motoring