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Pedrosa takes MotoGP victory in Spain as Honda dominates

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Dani Pedrosa swept to his first win of the 2017 MotoGP season at Jerez in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, heading up a one-two finish for Repsol Honda.

Pedrosa picked up pole position on Saturday before going lights-to-flag in the race, ultimately finishing six seconds clear of teammate and compatriot Marc Marquez as Spanish riders locked out the podium.

Pedrosa’s path to victory was fairly straightforward, but Marquez came under pressure for second early on as Moto2 world champion Johann Zarco zipped through the pack on his Tech3 Yamaha bike.

Zarco passed Marquez for second on lap four, only for the three-time MotoGP champion to battle back and eventually pull clear, dropping his rival into the clutches on the oncoming Jorge Lorenzo.

With good results yet to arrive since joining Ducati at the start of the year, Lorenzo looked more comfortable through the race in Jerez as he battled from eighth on the grid to finish third, marking his first podium for the team. The Spaniard passed Zarco for P3 before half-distance, with the Frenchman hanging on to finish fourth.

It proved to be a race to forget for Yamaha riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi as high temperatures in Spain hampered their tire management. Viñales was able to finish sixth, while Rossi ailed home 10th, but remains in the lead of the riders’ championship.

The MotoGP paddock reconvenes in two weeks’ time with the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”