The second round of the MotoGP calendar took place at The Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas. It's the third year a race has taken place at the 5.513km circuit, a track that reigning World Champion Marc Marquez has been very successful at, having achieved both pole positions and wins in previous years.
After a harrowing qualifying session on Saturday however, the 22-year-old Spaniard had to abandon his faulty bike against the wall, run down pitlane, jump on his second bike with less than three minutes on the clock, yet he still managed to put in a flying lap of 2 minutes 2.135 seconds to claim pole position for Sunday’s race.
The weather had been forecast for a wet race, but the sunny skies said different as the lights went out and it was Andrea Dovizioso who bolted to the first corner taking the lead from Marquez who had Valentino Rossi hot on his heels. British rider Bradley Smith stormed to fourth place on his YZR-M1, ahead of factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. A first lap clash with Scott Redding and Pol Espargaro also left the Oxfordshire rider Smith leading the British pack as Cal Crutchlow, who was fifth on the grid, swiftly dropped to tenth place after a slow start and also forced wide for the crash in front of him.
After lap five of the 22-lap race, Marquez managed to pass the Ducati Desmosedici of Dovizioso and pulled away, finishing 2.354 seconds ahead to gain his 20th GP win of his career.
Marquez said: “It’s been good weather, everything has been fine with the bike, it was a perfect race. I was able to get a good rhythm and I am happy for this victory after my mistake in Qatar. This was a good chance for me to win again and the US is a good place for me, lots of left corners”
Italian compatriots Dovizioso and Rossi battled closely for second position with Rossi in front until seven laps from the finish, the wear on his front tyre was too much and Dovi won took the runner-up spot leaving Rossi on the third step of the podium. Nine=time World Champion Rossi maintains the lead at the top of the Championship though, albeit by one point.
Rossi admitted the COTA is not a great track for the Yamaha YZR-M1, saying: “I am happy to be top of the championship with two times on the podium. This is a very difficult track; it’s been a good weekend but not perfect. For perfect, I should be in front of Dovi, though Marquez is fast, I can still see him! On paper, this is the worst track [for Yamaha]. I like Argentina. I hope we can be competitive there. Though I am going to the Texan Tornado’s Boot Camp tomorrow!”
Rossi’s team-mate Lorenzo, who had been suffering from a bout of bronchitis over the race weekend, fought with the satellite Yamaha of Smith and the Ducati of Andrea Iannone managing to climb from sixth to fourth place in the last few laps of the race. Iannone and Smith took fifth and sixth respectively, in front of the CWM-LCR Honda of Crutchlow. Smith claimed top satellite rider, whilst Héctor Barberá took first Open rider.
Both riders of the Suzuki Ecstar factory team featured in the top ten, with Aleix Espargaro in eighth place and rookie Maverick Viñales in ninth.
Missing from the race was Repsol Honda rider and teammate of Marquez, Dani Pedrosa. Whilst recovering from his third operation to resolve arm-pump issues, Honda test-rider Hiroshi Aoyama rode his RC213V to 11th place. Aoyama is expected to ride for Pedrosa in Argentina as well.
Both junior classes were won by British riders – in Moto2, Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes, who suffered a hideously fast crash in Friday practice, rode through the pain, sitting in second place for the majority of the race, then with four laps to go, stole the lead from Johann Zarco and claimed the victory for the first time.
21-year-old Danny Kent dominated the Moto3 race from early on, falling back at the start but picking through the grid and taking the win with a huge lead of 8.532 seconds ahead of Fabio Quartararo and team-mate Efrén Vázquez, who took the third step of the podium. Kent’s third win in the class means he now leads the Championship table by eight points.
The third round of the season will be held in Argentina next weekend, Sunday 19 April (MotoGP race starts 6pm BST)Reuse content