Tactical brilliance lifts Marquez to victory in Brno
By: Michael Tozer
Published: 07 August 2017 Image credit: Getty Images
Marc Marquez has taken out his third race of the season by winning the Czech Grand Prix on the back of a masterful pitstop on a drying trackMarquez crossed the chequered flag over 12 seconds ahead of his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa in second, while Movistar Yamaha's Maverick Vinales completed the podium.
While it was a dominant victory for Marquez, it didn't come easy - as tricky conditions and a poor option of starting tyres saw him drop from pole position into 8th on the second lap, as his soft wet rear tyre was a poor choice for the drying track.
This forced the Repsol Honda team to roll the dice and call Marquez into the pits to change bikes, opting for a bike suited to dry conditions - with everybody else sticking with their wet-weather tyres.
At the time, this appeared to be a monumental risk - as Marquez dropped to the back of the field while Jorge Lorenzo surged into the lead, but the track slowly started to dry and Honda's gamble looked to pay immediate dividends.
After his out-lap, Marquez was over 10 seconds faster than the next fastest rider - and flew past the middle of the field, forcing other teams to reconsider their strategy.
On the next lap, the rest of the field scrambled to enter the pits and switch bikes, including leader Lorenzo - but Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso and Johann Zarco opted to stay out and test the conditions.
However, this appeared costly for this trio - as the riders behind them clocked times almost 8 seconds quicker than the leaders, forcing Rossi and Dovizioso to pit from the lead on Lap 5, handing the lead to Zarco.
Zarco's lead was brief, as a flying Marquez was on his tail and already up into 2nd, moving up 17 positions within two laps of pitting - and on Lap 6, Marquez had taken complete control of the race.
Two laps later, the lead had extended to over 20 seconds - which allowed Marquez to ride an uncontested race at the front of the field, as others looked to make up for lost time.
At this stage, victory seemed like an inevitability for Marquez - but there was a battle behind him for the other podium positions, with a heavy advantage given to the riders who opted to pit early, including Marquez's Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
Pedrosa was his usual picture of consistency, as the Spaniard picked off Karel Abraham, Scott Redding and Aleix Espargaro to surge up the field and lock up a Honda one-two, while Jorge Lorenzo struggled to adapt, dropping down to 15th in the field.
Maverick Vinales was next to cross the chequered flag 5.6s behind Pedrosa, while his Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi finished in fourth, after passing LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow on the final lap, who ultimately finished in fifth.
Dovizioso was the best of the Ducatis and finished in sixth, while Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac) was seventh - followed by Aleix and Pol Espargaro in eigth and ninth respectively.
The top ten was rounded out by Jonas Folger - while Australian rider Jack Miller finished in the points in 15th.
With this victory, Marquez extended his World Championship lead over Maverick Vinales to 14 points, while Andrea Dovizioso sits seven points adrift in third, with Valentino Rossi only one point behind his countryman in fourth.