AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Marc Marquez needed no drama to be the fastest at the Grand Prix of the Americas on Sunday.
With a sunny sky above, a dry track and the powerful Repsol Honda engine underneath him, the 22-year-old Spaniard delivered yet another easy victory.
After giving up an early to lead to Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso of Italy, Marquez quickly reeled him back in, then pulled away for career win No. 20, his third in a row in Austin and his first of the MotoGP season.
Once in front, Marquez dominated the field, winning by more than 2 seconds at the Circuit of the Americas.
The two-time defending world champion needed the win to boost his bid for a third consecutive title in motorcycle racing’s premiere classification after finishing fifth in the season opener in Qatar.
“It was time to come back on the top and try to recover those points. I’m happy because I felt good with the bike. This race gives to us a good confidence for the next race,” Marquez said.
Dovizioso finished second. Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi of Italy was third. Rossi, who has seven world titles, won in Qatar and leads the championship standings ahead of Dovizioso and Marquez.
“The championship is very long,” Rossi said. “We’re still at the top.”
Marquez’s easy victory was nothing like Saturday’s qualifying when he was forced to park his motorcycle after a warning light came on, jumped a wall and ran back to the garage to grab a backup ride.
Even after those gymnastics, Marquez turned in a tense, blistering turn of the track to grab pole position on his final lap.
On Sunday, the sun came out for the first time all weekend, but officials still had to delay the start for about 35 minutes because of a large water spill on the track just before the warm-up lap. That sent crews scrambling to dry the spill and the riders back to their garages.
Once they were racing, Dovizioso grabbed the lead out of the first turn, which comes at the top of a 110-foot climb and pushes the riders into a sharp left back down the hill. Dovizioso hasn’t won since 2009 and didn’t hold the lead for long.
Marquez stayed close and showed off the power of his Honda when he hauled in the leader on the track’s longest straightaway, passing him just as the riders headed into Turn 12. It was the same spot where Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton twice made passes to win the U.S. Grand Prix in 2012 and 2014.
Once he had the lead, Marquez eased into the next 17 laps and quickly put distance on the rest of the field, leaving Dovizioso and Rossi engaged in a tense fight for second. Dovizioso earned his 26th career podium finish.
“I was close to hitting him and (I thought) we both would crash,” Dovizioso said.
“He was faster, so he deserved it,” Rossi said.
Marquez captured his sixth straight MotoGP victory in the U.S. and his competitors will likely be glad to get him off American soil. The series moves to Argentina next week before a six-race run in Europe. Two of those will be in Marquez’s home country before a return to the U.S. at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August.
“USA is a good country for me. Normally, I feel really good. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the left corners that I enjoy more. We will try to keep this way,” Marquez said.
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