Spain’s Marc Marquez won the Grand Prix of the Americas on Sunday, becoming the youngest rider to win a race in the sport’s elite MotoGP series.
The 20-year-old Catalonian, last year’s Moto2 world champion, triumphed over his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, with Yamaha factory rider Jorge Lorenzo in third.
Marquez started from pole position in just his second MotoGP race, and with a time of 43minutes, 42.123 seconds finished 1.534 seconds ahead of Pedrosa and 3.381seconds in front of Lorenzo, the reigning world champion and winner of the season-opening race in Qatar earlier this month.
Marquez had finished third in Qatar in his first MotoGP start and his qualifying performance on the new Circuit of the Americas made him the series’ youngest ever pole winner.
He will go into the next race in Jerez, Spain, in two weeks atop the world championship standings — level with Lorenzo on 41 points but leading as the most recent Grand Prix winner.
Marquez said he had not expected the victory to come so early in his MotoGP career.
“To be third in my first race in Qatar was a dream and now, to take the victory in the second race — that’s even better!” he added.
“The race was quite hard, especially in terms of physical condition towards the end, with corners like turn one. I had some problems with the front that I hadn’t had in practice, but even with that, I was able to push and keep up a constant rhythm — not so fast, but enough.”
Lorenzo, a four-time MotoGP world champion, notched the 100th podium finish of his career — 10 years after posting his first with a win in Brazil in 2003.
“I never thought to get this unbelievable number of podiums so today is a magic day,” he said.
Lorenzo said the Yamaha team made progress after qualifying, learning that taking the circuit’s hairpin corners in second gear rather than first gave them better acceleration.
It was not quite enough to challenge for the win.
“Just a little bit more, maybe two-tenths quicker, and I could have fought with Dani and Marc,” he said, offering his congratulations to the young winner.
“He is a phenomenon,” Lorenzo said.
While Marquez started from pole, it was the more experienced Pedrosa who seized the lead at the start. LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl shot into second place, but was soon overtaken by Marquez, Lorenzo and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow.
Marquez clung tenaciously to Pedrosa, and made his move past into the lead on the 13th of 21 laps.
Crutchlow, who was not among the small group of riders to test at the new circuit before race week, was pleased with fourth, ahead of Germany’s Bradl and Italian Valentino Rossi.
Italian Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso, Spain’s Alvaro Bautista, American Nicky Hayden and Andrea Iannone of Italy rounded out the top 10.
Pedrosa congratulated his young teammate.
“It’s just a super start to the season,” he said. “I’m really happy with my second place and now I’m just trying to get better and better for the next round.”
All three of the day’s races went to Spanish riders. Nico Terol won the Moto2 race, while Alex Rins won the Moto3 race that was marred by a wreck by Dutch rider Jasper Iwema.
Rins triumphed in a furious five-lap finish after the re-start, while Iwema, who went spectacularly airborne after losing control coming out of a turn, was hospitalized after coming down on his head.
His RW team manager Jarno Janssen said the rider was “OK.”
“Jasper refused to go to hospital because he was feeling fine, but the doctors insisted,” Janssen said.