Marc Marquez became the youngest rider to claim back-to-back victories in MotoGP history after proving too strong for Stefan Bradl at Laguna Seca. The Spaniard also became the first rookie to win in Monterey and in the process put a move on Valentino Rossi at the Corkscrew that will live long in the memory.
24 hours after taking his first MotoGP pole position, all eyes were on Stefan Bradl and the German made no mistake off the line to grab the holeshot ahead of the fast starting Rossi. The Yamaha sneaked around the outside of turn one to overtake the two Hondas immediately in front of him as Marquez and Alvaro Bautista made tardy getaways.
Bradl wasn’t proving the easy adversary he had been at the Sachsenring with Rossi unable to make an impression on the LCR Honda and instead, the Yamaha fell back into the clutches of Marquez who was already setting fastest laps. Exiting turn six on the fourth lap, the Honda drew alongside the no.46 but with Rossi having the inside for the Corkscrew, surely Marquez would back off? The championship leader had other ideas though and braved it out around the outside, taking a similar line to Rossi himself while racing Casey Stoner in 2008. Second place, and surely one of the moves of the year, belonged to Marquez.
The next target was 1.8s up the road but Bradl’s lead was cut in half within two laps but the LCR Honda had a good enough drive onto the straights to prevent Marquez breezing past him. To take the lead, Marc would have to make his move on the brakes and with thirteen laps remaining, he dived up the inside into the final corner. Stefan bravely stayed in touch in the laps immediately following the move but as time passed by, the gap gradually opened up, growing to 2.298s by the chequered flag.
After being humbled at the Corkscrew, Rossi had his hands full with another Honda in the form of Bautista but held on to the final podium position by six hundredths of a second. Injury and all, Dani Pedrosa rode a heroic race to fifth with Jorge Lorenzo doing likewise to finish sixth, each limiting the damage to their title bids. Cal Crutchlow was a disappointing seventh after failing to lay a glove on the Spaniards ahead while Tech 3 also had to watch their other bike break down on lap eight, taking Bradley Smith out of tenth.
The two factory Ducatis enjoyed a fierce race-long tussle over eighth, even if they won’t have enjoyed the 34 second gap to the winner. Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso even came close to touching on the pit straight but both made it home in once piece, the home favourite winning the battle by a tenth of a second. Hector Barbera completed the top ten on the leading CRT machine, his cause being helped by the demise of both Aspar riders with Aleix Espargaro crashing moments after Randy de Puniet pulled off with a smoking Aprilia.