By JIM VERTUNO
2014-04-19 03:01 AM
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Marc Marquez safely navigated the first turn of the Grand Prix of the Americas and quickly settled into 21 comfortable laps and his second consecutive victory of 2014.
The rest of the grid in MotoGP will have to hope the Spaniard doesn't make such easy work of the world championship.
The reigning world champion has shown no lingering effects from a fractured right leg in preseason training, and judging by the first two races of the year, the 21-year-old may just be too fast and too good to beat over the long haul of the schedule.
"It's so important to start the season like that, two victories and two pole positions," Marquez said. "We have to stay focused and we just started."
Marquez' eighth career victory gave him 50 points heading into next week's Grand Prix of Argentina and a 14-point lead over Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa. While that lead wouldn't seem insurmountable -- yet -- the question is a matter of who is going to catch Marquez, or least keep it close enough to keep things interesting.
Pedrosa finished third in the world championship in 2013. Movistar Yamaha's former world champion Jorge Lorenzo, who chased Marquez all the way to the end in 2013 and was just four points behind in second, has had a terrible start to 2014 with just six points after two races.
Lorenzo crashed out of the lead in Qatar and jumped the start in Austin, forcing him to take a pit lane drive-through penalty that pushed him into last place before he rallied to finish in 10th place.
"I wasn't thinking and was distracted and I made a big mistake in the start," Lorenzo said. "I just tried to push at the maximum afterward to get the best result but the race was almost over for me ... I want to say sorry to the team as I destroyed my race."
Anyone but Marquez winning the Austin race would have been a surprise. The Circuit of the America's track seemed tailor-made for the powerful Hondas to accelerate out of the hairpin turns into the long straightaways that Marquez and Pedrosa gobbled up at a blistering pace.
"Maybe this track was a little easier than the other ones. We know the other races will be different," Marquez said.
His challengers will be happy to get Marquez out of the U.S. for a while. Marquez is undefeated in six races on American soil in Moto2. He won all three MotoGP races in the U.S. last season, but the series dropped its race in California in 2014. That leaves Indianapolis in August as the only other race in the U.S. this season.
"I don't know why it's a great country for me. I like it, so I will ask for a couple more races here next year," Marquez said.
MotoGP will be in Argentina for the first time since 1999, racing on a track built in 2008. The new track could bring some other riders into the mix.
Former world champion Valentino Rossi finished second in Qatar and stands third in the championship points chase with 28. Italian Andrea Dovizioso of Italy finished third in Texas, to earn his first podium finish since 2012.