Marc Marquez extended his MotoGP championship lead as he claimed a second consecutive race win on his Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca debut.
The Spaniard belied his inexperience of the Californian track all weekend, leading three of the four practice sessions and only missing out on pole due to a crash. It was Stefan Bradl who grabbed pole and he held his lead for over half the race.
Marquez made a slightly slow start and needed to first fight back past Valentino Rossi, achieving that with a scrabbling Corkscrew pass in which both took to the dirt.
Bradl was 1.6sec clear after that tussle, but Marquez’s works Honda was soon shadowing the LCR example. A long chase ensued, before Marquez eventually slipped ahead into the final corner then pulled away.
Bradl was still able to claim his first MotoGP podium in a comfortable second place, two seconds behind Marquez, who is now 16 points clear in the championship.
Rossi had to settle for third on the top Yamaha, fending off race-long pressure from Alvaro Bautista – who was just 0.059sec away from denying Rossi a podium when they charged over the line.
Marquez’s title rivals Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo had gentle races to fifth and sixth as they nursed their injuries. Lorenzo had jumped to fourth early on before fading, although he still had sufficient reserves to stay clear of a muted Cal Crutchlow.
The two factory Ducatis had a wild fight for eighth place, won narrowly by home rider Nicky Hayden over teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
An early crash ended Aleix Espargaro’s unbeaten CRT run. Avintia’s Hector Barbera emerged on top in class in 10th overall, after a long battle with Colin Edwards and the prototype Pramac Ducati of Alex de Angelis.
Results - 32 laps:Pos Rider Team/Bike Time/Gap 1. Marc Marquez Honda 44m00.695s 2. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda +2.298s 3. Valentino Rossi Yamaha +4.498s 4. Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda +4.557s 5. Dani Pedrosa Honda +9.257s 6. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha +12.970s 7. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha +15.304s 8. Nicky Hayden Ducati +33.963s 9. Andrea Dovizioso Ducati +34.129s10. Hector Barbera Avintia FTR-Kawasaki +1m02.369s11. Alex de Angelis Pramac Ducati +1m02.604s12. Colin Edwards Forward FTR-Kawasaki +1m03.593s13. Danilo Petrucci Ioda-Suter-BMW +1m20.450s14. Karel Abraham Cardion Aprilia +1 lap15. Yonny Hernandez PBM Aprilia +1 lap16. Hiroshi Aoyama Avintia FTR-Kawasaki +1 lap17. Bryan Staring Gresini FTR-Honda +1 lap18. Lukas Pesek Ioda-Suter-BMW +1 lapRetirements: Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 7 laps Aleix Espargaro Aspar Aprilia 5 laps Randy de Puniet Aspar Aprilia 4 laps Claudio Corti Forward FTR-Kawasaki 3 laps Michael Laverty PBM-Aprilia 1 lap