The Marc Marquez juggernaut continued to steamroll over other riders in the 2014 season as the runaway champion completed his record ninth victory at the Sachsenring MotoGP track in Germany last Sunday. The 21-year old Honda-Repsol teamster and world champion has entered the history books as the first rider since the Italian legend Giacomo Agostini, who also won the first 9 races in the 1970 season and 10 overall. Ago is widely regarded as the greatest motorcycle racer of all time in the 65-year history of MotoGP, the oldest of all motorsports World Championships. Considering that Marquez has only begun in 2013, his achievements and the underlying consistency are truly unmatched. On Sunday, Marquez began with an unusual handicap since pit-lane exits occupied practically half the field and he needed a tyre change as well. Only Stefan Bradl of Germany began in front row and he was followed at some distance by a bunch of other riders. The track had rains before the race began and Marquez was forced to start from the pit-lane in spite of having qualified for the pole a day earlier. Regardless, the Honda-Repsol rider crossed all hurdles and by lap 6, he was already zooming away in the lead.
Marquez has made phenomenal progress in a short time and has recorded his fifth victory in Germany in four years, beginning with 125cc as a 17-year old in 2010. He went on to win Moto2 in 2011 and 2012 before entering the top category. In the qualifying races on Saturday, Marquez set a new Circuit-Best-Lap record, which existed on the name of Casey Stoner, who rode a Ducati on Bridgestone qualifying tyres at Sachsenring circuit in 2008. Incidentally, qualifying tyres and regular race tyres were earlier made from vastly different rubber compounds with the qualifying tyres being designed for higher grips that undergo abrasion very quickly. From the days of sacrificing durability for performance, the tyre-manufacturing technology has undergone tremendous improvement and instead of making qualifying tyres for one or two laps, manufacturers can now make them for 30 odd laps. Breaking a lap-record, therefore, is far more creditable in the modern era. In this context, Marquez overhauling Stoner’s record with nearly the same tyres for qualifying and regular race on a circuit as demanding as the Sachsenring was a major achievement.
On Sunday, however, the pole position did not give much purchase to Marquez as he began the race with a built-in disadvantage. He had to fight through from the 10th place and it was only after six laps that he broke away from the field. Earlier, rain showers resulted in the race starting on a track that had wet patches in the final sector. Such conditions prompted 9 riders in a field of 23 using slick tyres. Despite the bizarre start, Marquez completed his nine-in-a-row win as the first half of 2014 MotoGP season came to an end. Further MotoGP action will resume after the mid-season summer break in Indianapolis during August 8-10.
Though Bradl was the lone rider to begin on the actual track with slick tyres, he couldn’t capitalize on the advantage due to the wet track and the Repsol-Honda team of Marquez and Pedrosa went ahead of him pretty soon. Until the last 10 laps, Pedrosa kept clinging to Marquez’s tail, his resistance slowly failed towards the end. On the finish line, Marquez had a 1.466 seconds lead over his team-mate. Movistar Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo passed his team-mate Valentino Rossi to fall behind Pedrosa and eventually took the third place. Rossi remained on fourth while Pramac Ducati rider Andrea Iannone and Aleix Espargaro on Forward Yamaha took fifth and sixth places. After a bit of battle for the seventh spot between Cal Crutchlow, Pol Espargaro and Andrea Dovizioso, Espargaro finished seventh, Dovizioso took the eighth place, Alvaro Bautista of Gresini Honda ninth and Crutchlow dropped to the tenth spot. In the end, Marquez, Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo together made it an all-Spanish podium.
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