The weather was marginally less hot on race Sunday than the preceding two days. The action at the 2018 Czech Republic GP had not cooled down at all – as a day of centuries yielded the closest top three finish since 20016, the second Ducati one-two of the season, the second win of the year for Andrea Dovizioso, and a few more points added to Marc Marquez’s growing championship lead.
Crutchlow, Rossi, Czech MotoGP 2018
The 21-lapper at the sweeping 5.403-km circuit outside the Czech Republic’s second city had been close throughout, but slightly austere, with limited overtaking, as riders preserved their strength and tyres for the final struggle.
Marquez (Repsol Honda), in his hundredth MotoGP start, was up for the fight. So too was Dovi, in his hundredth Ducati start.
When it came, it was explosive.
Dovi had led almost throughout, ceding the position to Valentino Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha for three laps before half distance.
But with the top three riders putting in their best laps on the last, he had to fight his hardest to hold on to it, as first Marquez and then his team-mate Lorenzo attacked.
Marquez might not have given it full strength, thinking also of his championship position; but his pass on Lorenzo, while quickly repulsed, had given his fellow-Spaniard a little too much to do, He got alongside his team-mate, but over the line Dovi was ahead by less than two tenths; Marquez a similar distance behind.
Rossi, lacking sustained pace all weekend, had dropped to fifth behind independent LCR-Castrol Honda team rider Cal Crutchlow, but on the last lap the old master reversed the positions to reclaim fourth by five hundredths of a second, so he lost only three points to Marquez, who now leads the championship by 49 points.
Alma Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci was less than a second behind and still just 3.768 seconds from the leader, in sixth,
Seventh-placed Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha) had lost touch by then; while two seconds away both Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Ducati) got the better of the factory Suzukis, with Andrea Iannone tenth and Alex Rins 11th.
Second factory Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales was the most prominent of five non-finishers, eliminated in a three-bike first-lap crash along with wild card Stefan Bradl (Honda) and Bradley Smith (KTM).
Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) was P12 ahead of top rookie Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) back from injury, with fellow debutant Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) for pretty close company in fourteenth. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), also returning from injury, completed the points scorers.
Marquez now has 181 points to Rossi’s 132; then Dovizioso (113). Vinales (109) and Lorenzo (105).