AUSTIN (AP) – Marc Marquez made the Grand Prix of the Americas look like a breezy Sunday ride.
The reigning MotoGP world champion from Spain cruised to his second win of the season, defending his title in the race where he claimed his first career victory.
And the 21-year-old did it with ease, starting from pole position and leading the entire way.
“I never lead a race from the first lap to the end,” Marquez said of his eighth career win overall. “It was a little strange.”
It certainly wasn’t in doubt.
Marquez avoided any trouble in the traffic of the elevated first turn and he soon created a huge gap ahead of his Repsol Honda teammate and countryman Dani Pedrosa as the Hondas ripped through the track’s long straightaways and blasted out of the hairpin turns.
Unlike his season-opening victory in Qatar, when Marquez edged Valentino Rossi by 0.259 seconds, he had a nearly 3-second lead midway through the race and was never challenged.
“Marc today was just faster,” said Pedrosa, who finished second to Marquez for the second straight year and was more than 4 seconds behind Sunday. “I couldn’t really follow the pace.”
No one could. Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso of Italy was third, nearly 21 seconds behind Marquez, to earn his first podium finish since 2012.
Pedrosa had said the only hope of beating Marquez was to overtake him at the start. Last year, Pedrosa outmaneuvered Marquez on the first turn — a 130-foot climb into a downhill left — and held the lead for 12 laps.
This time, Marquez started in front and stayed there — once Jorge Lorenzo got out of the way.
Lorenzo, who started fifth, jumped the start and was penalized with a pit lane ride through at the end of the first lap. Once Lorenzo was forced off the front, the race settled into a Marquez pleasure ride.
“My first thought was that, ‘I lost on the start,'” Marquez said. “But then I understood when he went on the first lap into the pits. I was concentrated on my race. It didn’t change anything.”
Marquez’ only trouble came on a wobbly final turn on the last lap when he nearly dumped the bike on its side before recovering without any problems for the finish. Even though he’s a world champion, Marquez chalked it up to inexperience.
“The race was too quiet… I just wanted to put some RPM on the bike,” he said. “It was a small mistake… It’s more experience for the future.”
Marquez showed no signs of any lingering problems from a right leg fracture that happened in preseason training. Marquez had said the leg was getting stronger every day but that he would take pain killers for the race “just in case.”
Sunday was the first of two races in the U.S. this year, with MotoGP back in Indianapolis in August. The series now moves to Argentina in two weeks before a six-race run in Europe.
With Marquez in control of the chase for the world championship, getting out of the U.S. may help level the playing field. Marquez has never lost on American soil, winning all six times he’s raced in MotoGP or the development levels.
“I don’t know why it’s a great country for me,” Marquez said. “I like it, so I will ask for a couple more races here next year.”
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