Marquez masterstroke earns Czech triumph
Marc Marquez was rewarded for a bold early tyre change as he strengthened his grip on top spot in the MotoGP riders' standings with victory in the Czech Republic Grand Prix.
The Spaniard started on pole on soft wet tyres in Brno but found himself falling back through the field before electing to pit for slicks after just three laps in changing conditions.
That move caught the rest of the field napping and Marquez was soon lapping 10 seconds quicker than the frontrunners, who were slow to react to the Repsol Honda rider's masterstroke.
With title rivals Maverick Vinales and Andrea Dovizioso left playing catch-up, Marquez was able to strengthen his grip on first place and crossed the line 12.438 seconds clear of closest challenger and team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
Vinales came home in third, while Dovizioso had to settle for sixth, behind Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow, whose battle for fourth was the focal point for much of the late action.
The result sees Marquez - collecting his third win of the season - stretch his lead over Vinales at the top of the drivers' standings to 14 points after 10 races, while Dovizioso is now 21 points adrift of the three-time champion.
Further down the order, Aleix Espargaro was eighth after being handed a three-place penalty for his role in a pit-lane incident that saw Andrea Iannone come off his bike.
TYRE TRIUMPH CLINCHES IT FOR MARQUEZ
The race hinged on Marquez's early call to switch to dry tyres.
The polesitter had dropped to 10th by the time he decided to pit, but the move was rewarded in spades.
Most riders followed suit soon after but the leading group of Jorge Lorenzo, Rossi, Dovizioso and Johann Zarco elected to stay out a little longer.
Lorenzo's pit crew were not ready when he eventually decided to come in and he ultimately finished down in 15th.
Rossi and Dovizioso pitted on lap five, but by that point Marquez was eating up the track in front of him as he opened up a decisive 20-second lead.
IN THE POINTS
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) +12.438secs
3. Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha) +18.135s
4. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) +20.466s
5. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) +20.892s
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) +23.259s
7. Danilo Petrucci (OCTO Pramac) +24.079s
8. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) +30.559s
9. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +30.754s
10. Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha) +33.236s
11. Alex Rins (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) +33.290s
12. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) +34.595s
13. Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) +34.697s
14. Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) +38.062s
15. Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati) +40.100s
1. Marc Marquez - 154 points
2. Maverick Vinales - 140
3. Andrea Dovizioso - 133
4. Valentino Rossi - 132
5. Dani Pedrosa - 123
After a month off between the races in Germany and the Czech Republic, the teams face a swift one-week turnaround ahead of next Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.