(From left-right) Second placed Spanish Moto GP rider Dani Pedrosa of the Repsol Honda Team, first placed, Spanish MotoGP rider Marc Marquez of the Repsol Honda Team and third placed, Spanish Moto GP rider Maverick Vinales of Movistar Yamaha celebrate on the podium for the MotoGP race of the Motorcycling Grand Prix of the Czech Republic. EPA pic.

BRNO: Honda’s Marc Marquez led a Spanish podium sweep at the Czech GP on Sunday to extend his MotoGP world championship lead with a second straight win.

Dani Pedrosa was second almost 13 seconds back ahead of Maverick Vinales in third and nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi in fourth.

“I could have gone faster but there was no need to do so, I had it won and I’m not taking those risks anymore,” said the three time world champion who however celebrated by standing on his bike as he rode past the main stand to an ovation.

“These kind of races (mixed weather) can be very challenging and you have to remain focussed,” Marquez said after negotiating his tyre change early.

The result leaves the overall standings on a relative razor’s edge as Marquez leads with 154 points ahead of Vinales on 140, Andrea Dovizioso is third on 133, Rossi fourth on 132 and Pedrosa has 123 in fifth.

In his third win of the season the defending champion Marquez was in truly imperious form, starting from pole and dominating, holding his nerve during the tyre change as he temporarily dropped down the field before gradually lap after lap extending his lead.

After also winning in a similar fashion at the German GP last time out Marquez has galvanised the defence of his title that was in danger of being a landslide for the Yamaha tyro Vinales who took a big early lead but who is now second after ten of 18 races.

Having three Spaniards on the podium was a fine tribute to 13 time world champion Angel Nieto, who popularised motorbike racing in Spain and who was killed aged 70 in a quad bike accident last week.

Ahead of the day’s proceedings riders and teams from all categories gathered behind a banner saying Gracias Maestro (Thanks Master) and respected a minute’s silence.

Earlier Swiss Kalex rider Thomas Luthi emerged victorious from the rain interrupted Moto2 GP as championship leader Franco Morbidelli finished eighth.

And Spain’s Juan Mir led a Honda sweep in the Moto3 race to register his sixth win of the season from ten.--AFP

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