MotoGP: It’s four of a kind for Marc Marquez after Spain win

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Marc Marquez recovered from a slow start on the opening lap to stay perfect so far this season in MotoGP with a wire-to-wire victory at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

The series’ reigning World Champion now has four wins in as many races this year, a rampage that includes a win in Round 2 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Today in Jerez, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo got out to an early lead on Marquez, only to both be cleared by him before the field came back around to complete the opening lap.

From there, Marquez pulled away and left Rossi to fight Marquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, for second place. Rossi was able to take that battle for his second podium finish of the year and his first at Jerez since 2010.

Lorenzo, celebrating his 27th birthday, came home in fourth, while Andrea Dovizioso picked up fifth to lead the Ducati camp.

“I’m really happy, it’s a different kind of victory,” said Marquez on the series’ official web site. “I struggled a little bit this weekend and the level is so high with Pedrosa, Jorge and Valentino who are all very strong.

“In the beginning, I was able to open a gap and push. I know that Dani and Valentino are so strong at the end of the race and with new tires I felt better than on old tires so I pushed very hard at the start.”

Marquez is now the first to win the first four premier-class races of the year since Mick Doohan pulled it off in 1992. Prior to today, Marquez had never won at Jerez.

MotoGP returns to action on May 18 at Le Mans, France.

Hamilton leads damp first USGP practice at COTA, Hartley debuts

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Lewis Hamilton continued his impressive Formula 1 record at the Circuit of The Americas by topping opening practice for the United States Grand Prix on Friday for Mercedes.

A four-time winner of the USGP at COTA, Hamilton set the pace in damp conditions in first practice after rain hit the Austin area in the lead-up to the start of the session.

After initially venturing out on intermediate tires, Hamilton made the switch to super-softs at the halfway point in FP1, ultimately posting a fastest time of 1:36.335.

Hamilton’s time saw him finish over half a second clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who he could beat to the F1 drivers’ championship at COTA this weekend should results go his way.

Mercedes got two cars into the top three as Valtteri Bottas wound up third in the second W08 car, six-tenths back from Hamilton, while Max Verstappen ended FP1 fourth for Red Bull.

Felipe Massa led Williams into the top 10 with an impressive lap en route to fifth, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vandoorne was left to lead McLaren’s charge after a hydraulic leak sidelined Fernando Alonso for much of the session, limiting the Spaniard to just four laps in total.

Force India managed to get both its drivers up into the top 10 as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished eighth and ninth respectively, edging out Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. who was P10 in his first appearance for the team.

Brendon Hartley enjoyed his first run-out in Toro Rosso’s STR12 car ahead of his grand prix debut on Sunday, taking P14 overall.

The New Zealander had not driven an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 2012, but put in a solid first display in practice, even though his race hopes are set to be hindered by a grid penalty.

Second practice for the United States Grand Prix is live on the NBC Sports app from 3pm ET today.