Spain’s Marc Marquez wins MotoGP U.S. Grand Prix

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At 20 years and 154 days old, Spain’s Marc Marquez became the youngest back-to-back winner ever in the MotoGP motorcycle series with his victory in today’s United States Grand Prix at California’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Marquez, who suffered a crash during qualifying on Saturday, made the race-winning pass on pole sitter Stefan Bradl of Germany at Lap 19 and went on to take his third win of the MotoGP season by 2.2 seconds.

“Before I came here, I was expecting to struggle more,” Marquez told the series’ official website. “From the TV, this circuit looked so tricky. Since FP1, I have felt so good. Next time I’ll be able to learn where all of the bumps are and everything – yesterday, I found a new bump, when I crashed at Turn 6! Anyway, today in the race, it was so good.

“At the beginning, with a full fuel tank, I was little bit scared because – with all of those bumps – it’s so easy to lose the front. I overtook Valentino [Rossi] then caught Bradl; I stayed behind him for about 12 laps, then tried to pass him to open up a gap. I’m very, very happy because it’s a new circuit and I’ve got 25 points. I’m very happy because it’s great to go into the summer break with this result.”

Bradl would maintain second place for his inaugural podium finish in MotoGP, while legend Valentino Rossi was able to hold off Alvaro Bautista for third by a mere .059 of a second. Marquez’s REPSOL Honda teammate, Dani Pedrosa, rounded out the Top 5 finishers.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.