Defending MotoGP champion Marc Marquez won the San Marino Grand Prix in changing weather conditions Sunday, as championship leader Valentino Rossi finished fifth and his closest rival Jorge Lorenzo crashed out.
Marquez finished in 48 minutes, 23.819 seconds on the rain-soaked course for his fourth victory of the season, ahead of surprise podium finishers Bradley Smith and Scott Redding.
It was the first time two British riders have finished on the podium since 1979.
Smith was 7.288 behind the Repsol Honda driver, while Redding was 18.793 slower than Marquez for his first podium finish despite sliding into the gravel early on in the race.
Rossi took advantage of his Yamaha teammate’s misfortune to extend his advantage to 23 points over Lorenzo with just five races remaining.
The race saw an intriguing battle between Marquez, Rossi and Lorenzo for most of the day and in the end it was the two-time defending champion’s tire strategy which proved the difference.
Marc Marquez, center, winner of the San Marino Moto GP grand prix, celebrates on the podium with second placed rider Bradley Smith, left, and third placed Scott Redding
The three pitted at virtually the same time for a wet bike change and were again the last to stay out as the rest of the field opted to change back onto slicks.With Rossi and Lorenzo battling it out up front, Marquez was content to play it safe behind the Yamaha pair. He decided to pit on lap 18 and that proved to be a winning tactic.
Rossi continued to push forward much to the approval of the record 92,000 fans at the Misano circuit — just 10 kilometers from his birthplace. But they were left bewildered as he continued to postpone the switch.
Lorenzo joined Marquez on slicks with eight laps to go and Rossi finally pitted the following lap but he had left his change of tires too late. That effectively handed the win to Marquez as, on faster tires, the Spaniard quickly caught the Italian as he went into the pits and relinquished the lead for good.
However, that wasn’t as costly as it could have been as Lorenzo crashed with seven laps to go, allowing Rossi to almost double his advantage in the standings.
It was a fourth win at the Misano circuit for Marquez but his first in Moto GP after victories there in the Moto 2 and 125 categories.