AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez grabbed an early lead and coasted to a fourth straight win at the Grand Prix of the Americas on Sunday, staying clear of the wrecks that took out several top riders behind him.
Marquez earned his 26th career MotoGP victory and second this season to extend his win streak on American soil to eight races since 2013. The Texas race is the only U.S. event on the 2016 calendar.
Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo hoped to break that streak and got a rocket burst off the start into the first turn before Marquez slipped below him and into the lead. From there, Marquez steadily stretched the gap to more than 8 seconds in the final lap.
Lorenzo finished second. Ducati’s Andrea Iannone was third.
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi started third but crashed out on the third lap.
Marquez started from pole position for the fourth straight year and dominated a race that some thought could be close. His final 6.1-second margin of victory was his biggest yet.
Lorenzo had stayed close in qualifying, and a win would have been a big boost for the defending world champion who crashed out of the Argentina Grand Prix a week ago. That spill opened the door for a victory by Marquez and the lead in title chase.
Lorenzo took an extra sighting lap in warmups Sunday and got the burst off the starting grid. He shot into the lead up the 130-foot elevation into the first hairpin left turn but had to go wide. The mistake was the only opening Marquez needed to slip underneath Lorenzo and into the lead as the riders went hurtling back downhill.
Once Marquez was out front, there was little drama left in picking a winner. The action behind him was just heating up.
Rossi, who hoped to join Lorenzo in a Yamaha tandem working to unseat Marquez, was no help after his early crash. Rossi walked away, but his race was finished in a cloud of dust as rider and cycle went sliding into the gravel of the safety area.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, who was knocked off the podium in Argentina by a last-lap crash with teammate Iannone, was knocked out of the race Sunday in a violent crash on the sixth lap.
Marquez’s Repsol Honda teammate, Dani Pedrosa, wobbled his rear wheel and bounced to his right and straight into Dovizioso as they slowed into the first turn. Pedrosa immediately jumped up to check on Dovizioso, who was shaken but was able to walk off the track aided by marshals.
The victory sets up Marquez as the rider to catch for the championship after just three races. The 2013 and 2014 champion slipped back to third in 2015 when a wild season went all the way to a final race duel between Lorenzo and Rossi.
After his crash in Argentina, Lorenzo needed the podium finish to keep pace with Marquez with the series now heading for Europe.