There’s no stopping Marc Marquez. At a weather-hit resumption of business at Sunday’s Czech Republic GP, he was once again totally invincible.
Having beaten Mick Doohan’s record with a 50th premier-class pole position – a massive advantage of some 2.5 seconds achieved with breath-taking brinkmanship on slicks on a damp track – the Repsol Honda rider led a belated and slightly abbreviated race from start to finish. Naturally, he survived at least one near crash; and while for the first ten of 20 laps he dangled a carrot of possibility in front of his pursuer Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati), it was only to cruelly steal it away in the second half as he pulled relentlessly clear. He started the final lap better than three seconds ahead and was able to stand and celebrate over the line, just short of 2.5 seconds in front.
Dovizioso had to be happy with second, and a return to the podium for the first time in four races.
Third was a thriller, won by Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) after shadowing Alex Rins’s more agile Ecstar Suzuki, and watching as his rear tyre lost grip before pouncing with two laps to go.
“I had to stay calm. I could see how Rins was spinning the rear, so I bided my time. When I decided to pass him I knew I could gap him … but that Suzuki turns so well. I tried at turn one and was keeping the line tight … then I heard him coming alongside and I had to pick up, then choose another kind of corner.”
The strongest ride behind them came from Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), who started 11th on the grid after getting bamboozled by the wet qualifying.
Rossi finished a loney sixth; the highest placed Yamaha, with Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) getting ahead of Petrucci on lap four and staying there to finish seventh, with Petrucci retaining eighth.
Taka Nakagami (LCR Honda) had been behind Crutchlow after the start, but wasn’t able to move forward, staying in ninth to secure another top-ten finish. In the latter half of the race, in a return of the slow-start/fast-finish syndrome that Maverick Vinales thought he had put behind him, the Monster Yamaha picked through the field to finally finish in tenth.
Marquez extended his points lead yet again in Brno, and goes into round 11 in Austria 63 points ahead of nearest rival Andrea Dovizioso.