JEREZ, Spain (Reuters) - Marc Marquez won his home Spanish Grand Prix and took the overall MotoGP lead on Sunday after the reigning champion’s main rivals collided spectacularly.
The Honda rider was in a race of his own for the last eight laps after the Ducati pairing of Andrea Dovizioso, the previous championship leader, and Jorge Lorenzo collided with Honda’s Dani Pedrosa while fighting for second place.
Pedrosa, who underwent wrist surgery less than a month ago, was thrown high over his bike and onto the asphalt after trying to go past the two Ducatis on the inside of the sunny Jerez circuit in southern Spain.
Lorenzo came across into the corner as Dovizioso went wide, colliding with Pedrosa and sending the two Ducatis into the gravel. All three riders walked away from the crash, although Pedrosa complained of severe pain in his right hip.
French Tech3 Yamaha rider Johann Zarco was gifted the runner-up slot, 5.241 seconds behind, and is now Marquez’s closest rival in the championship.
Italian Andrea Iannone finished third for Suzuki.
Four-times world champion Marquez, who started the race from fifth place and took the lead with 16 laps to go, now has 70 points after four races to Zarco’s 58. Dovizioso dropped to fifth overall with 46.
“I was convinced before the race that I was able to win,” said Marquez, who had a big wobble when he ran over gravel left on the track by an earlier off.
“Ok, we started on the second row but anyway today I was clever. I pushed...here the race is very long and you must manage many things.”
Italian great Valentino Rossi was fifth in a race that saw him reach a career milestone by completing the circumference of the planet in race kilometers.
Rossi has now covered 40,075km in competition over 23 seasons, starting at the 1996 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Britain’s Cal Crutchlow started on pole position for the LCR Honda team but failed to finish, crashing out at turn one after nine laps and while in fourth place.
Dovizioso felt he was the innocent party in the three-way crash, blaming Pedrosa for the ‘biggest mistake’ although the Spaniard disagreed.
“Were the other guys on the outside coming back from a mistake, re-joining the right line? Yes. So who has the preference in this case, the guy who is inside or those who are outside? The one on the inside. So, who was at fault?” he asked.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar