Marc Marquez wins Czech Grand Prix to increase overall lead

Spain's MotoGP rider Marc Marquez of the Repsol Honda Team rides during the MotoGP race at the Czech Republic motorcycle Grand Prix at the Automotodrom Brno, in Brno, Czech Republic, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Defending MotoGP champion Marc Marquez won the Czech Grand Prix on Sunday to increase his overall lead with a third victory of the season

BRNO, Czech Republic — Defending MotoGP champion Marc Marquez won the Czech Grand Prix on Sunday to increase his overall lead with a third victory of the season.

Starting on a wet track that was quickly drying out, riders were allowed to swap their bikes for ones with tires suitable for dry conditions.

Marquez was the first to do so, a strategy that paid off for him and secured his second straight victory.

Starting from pole, Marquez had the best start but was overtaken by Jorge Lorenzo on the opening lap and then dropped further down the field.

After the swap, the Spaniard used the speed of his Honda to take the lead with 18 laps to go and cruised unchallenged to victory in 44 minutes and 15.974 seconds on the 5.403-kilometer (3.357-mile) Brno circuit.

"I went in very very early, it was still wet, it was still very difficult," the three-time MotoGP champion said. "I'm very very happy. This kind of races are very very difficult. This championship will be long, will be hard. But we took these 25 points, very important."

It was the 32nd victory for Marquez in MotoGP.

His Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa was second, 12.438 seconds behind to become only the third rider to reach the podium 150 times in all categories after Italians Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi.

Maverick Vinales was third on a Yamaha, 18.135 back while his teammate, six-time MotoGP champion Rossi placed fourth. Rossi was leading with 19 laps to go but waited too long to make the swap.

With eight races to go, Marquez leads the overall standings with 154 points from Vinales on 140 in second. Rossi is fourth with 132, trailing Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso by one point.

The next race is the Austrian Grand Prix next week.

Earlier, Joan Mir won his sixth Moto3 race of the season to stretch his overall lead in wet conditions. In Moto2, Thomas Luthi took the first win of the season in a race that started on a dry track but had to be interrupted due to rain after seven laps and restarted.

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