LE MANS, France: Spaniard Marc Marquez (pictured) became the first rider since Italian great Giacomo Agostini in 1972 to win the first five races of the season as he eased to victory in the French MotoGP at Le Mans yesterday.
The 21-year-old Honda rider -- who also emulated Australia Mick Doohan in winning the five straight races from pole -- recovered from a poor start to take control with 16 laps remaining and came home ahead of Italian great Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) while Alvaro Bautista of Spain was third on a Honda Gresini.
Victory yesterday made the reigning world champion the youngest ever rider to win five successive races in the premier class, taking the record from late Englishman Mike Hailwood who was 22 years and 160 days old when he won five successive races in the 500cc class in 1962.
Marquez moved onto a perfect 125 points from a possible 125 while his team-mate Dani Pedrosa is second on 83 and Rossi is third a further two points adrift.
Rossi’s struggling, two-time world champion teammate Jorge Lorenzo, is down in fifth place on just 45 points.
“Today was a little bit harder especially the beginning,” Marquez told BT Sports.
“I was a bit too calm and needed to be a bit more aggressive at the start. “Once I saw Valentino make a bit of a mistake I took my opportunity to take the lead. I am going to enjoy the moment for five wins from five is very special.”
Rossi was phlegmatic about his second spot, which was his third in the five races this season.
“I am so happy about the result. It is a pity about my mistake as it was at a crucial part of the race,” the 35-year-old nine-time champion told BT Sports. “It was too easy for Marc in the end but we will try in my home race in Mugello the next time to get our own back.”
For Bautista it was the culmination of a great weekend as his beloved Atletico Madrid had won the Spanish football league title on Saturday for the first time in 18 years.
“Today was amazing, incredible, leading to what has been the perfect weekend for me,” the 29-year-old said with a broad smile. Marquez got overwhelmed at the start of the race as Andrea Dovizioso, Stefan Bradl, Rossi and Pol Espargaro swept past him and his efforts to regain his position were thwarted as he clipped Lorenzo’s back wheel and did brilliantly not to go down.
Rossi, Espargaro and Bradl passed Dovizioso with 23 laps remaining while Marquez continued his fight back by overtaking Rossi’s team-mate Lorenzo with 22 laps to go to move into fifth. He was fourth a lap later and going away from the stands with 19 laps remaining, he overtook Bradl and set off after Espargaro with Rossi still leading while Dovizioso’s electic start had petered out completely as he dropped like a stone to 10th.
Marquez breezed past Espargaro the following lap and with 16 laps from the finish the young Spaniard went past the Italian as Rossi went too wide on a corner and Marquez needed no second invitation to take the lead and soon built up an advantage of over a second. Behind the front two, Bautista was surging up the field and was turning the pressure on Espargaro for third place which he eventually secured while Marquez’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa produced a late charge passing Lorenzo to claim fifth.