Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas
2018 MotoGP Round Three
Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, USA.
Márquez knocks COTA for six!
Current MotoGP world champion, Marc Márquez delivered a perfect comeback from a much less than perfect performance in Argentina for another victory at COTA, Austin, Texas, USA. Márquez easily won the Austin MotoGP at COTA for a 6th time in a row.
Double Drama in the MotoGP Qualifying 2
Márquez took his 6th successive COTA pole for the Austin MotoGP, half way into the session he had an off, but that didn't stop him putting up the fastest time afterwards.
Then race direction gave him a 1 row grid penalty for interfering with Maverick Viñales fast lap. That moved Viñales to pole with Suzuki's Iannone second and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha star Johann Zarco in third. The session started well, with Valentino Rossi right up there, he was in second just behind Márquez.
Márquez went on a flyer, on another hot lap, then he lost the front of his Factory Repsol Honda at Turn 13 mere moments later, sliding off, he hung on to the bike. Back to the paddock and went out on his second bike for the final part of the session. Only to set an even faster time!
On his out lap for his second run, as Maverick Viñales was fast approaching and he got in the way of Viñales, Márquez was touring on the racing line at Turn 15. Viñales was on a fantastic lap with two red markers and looked like he was on for pole. Márquez took the racing line just as Viñales was going for it. He was blocked by Márquez and not happy at all. Viñales was forced to abandon his lap and gesticulated angrily at Márquez, but regrouped to grab the top spot with a 2m04.064s next time round.
Márquez well and truly obliterated that effort as he lapped in 2m03.658s, 0.406s up on Viñales - but as the flag came out for the session, it was announced the incident between the pair was under investigation by Race Direction.
Suzuki rider Andrea Iannone was next best in third, 0.551s off the pace and one thousandth of a second ahead of Tech 3 Yamaha rider Johann Zarco.
Race Direction investigated the incident and gave Márquez a penalty of 1 row. So Viñales was promoted to pole.
Viñales said "We made a big change with the electronics compared to Argentina in the way I like. The bike today was working much better, much better for my riding style. Tomorrow we hope we can keep this pace and I want to be on the podium."
RED BULL GRAND PRIX OF THE AMERICAS
MotoGP Qualifying 2 Classification
Austin, Saturday, 21 April 2018
In Qualifying 1 it was the younger Espargaró who stormed into Q2, with Danilo Petrucci joining him.
Karel Abraham, Angel Nieto Ducati Team, had what looked like a nasty crash early in the session at very fast Turn 10, the Czech rider was ok and raced on Sunday, but had to pull out as the pain was too much for him.
Sunday Race Day
Everyone was there, ready for the race. Spotted in the paddock, were true Road Racing Legends, King Kenny Roberts, Wayne Rainey, Freddie Spencer and Randy Mamola. The crowds had arrived, packing the grandstands, the sun shining, all was set for a good days racing!
Out went the riders for their sighting lap and form up on the grid. The lights went out the race is on!
Márquez predictably led the opening runs at COTA, Austin, Texas, with a best lap of 2m04.134s, giving himself a 0.394s gap over Valentino Rossi.
Márquez dismissed his three place grid penalty as he shot off from the starting grid to dominate the Austin MotoGP for his 6th victory. Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team, takes the Championship lead back. Now five riders are within eight points at the top of the championship. Maverick Viñales, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, moves up to third after his second place.
Yamahas Maverick Viñales and Andrea Iannone second and third on the podium, the first for the Italian with the Hamamatsu factory on his Suzuki. That's two podium finishes for Team Suzuki Ecstar this year.
Injured Dani Pedrosa shone in the Texan sun to give a very brave performance.
Suzuki's Iannone got the hole shot from second on the grid, with Márquez in pursuit, starting fourth after a three place grid penalty for interfering with Maverick Viñales fast qualifying lap, the Repsol Honda made a flying start, to go into the first corner second, behind Andrea Iannone. He soon past him at the end of the back straight but Iannone wasn't done, and battled with a late dive up the inside of Márquez. Only to run wide on the exit, Márquez took him back and got his head down.
Barring that dice for the lead by Iannone, he had no trouble at the front.
The reigning world champion finished 3.5s ahead of Yamaha's Maverick Viñales, who took his first rostrum of this year. Iannone held on to third for his first Suzuki podium from Valentino Rossi.
Behind, however, it was getting pretty tight. Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, was pressuring teammate Viñales for third as Iannone held firm in second. Lap by lap, Viñales was able to ease away and take second - closing in on Iannone before a well-judged pass into Turn 1 saw Viñales get past and pulled away. Keeping calm, he took his first podium of the season and Iannone in third.
Top Independent Team rider was Zarco finishing sixth. Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda Castrol, sliding out at the final corner whilst attacking the Frenchman earlier in the race. Álex Rins, Team Suzuki Ecstar, also took a tumble and went out of the race while Crutchlow rejoined but out of the points.
The fight for fifth was the most closely fought of the race. Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso took fifth place after a late pass on Johann Zarco on his Monster Yamaha Tech3
The best performance of the weekend, came from a heroic Dani Pedrosa racing his Factory Repsol Honda to seventh despite fracturing his right wrist two weeks ago in Argentina. Back on track and racing just over a week after surgery on his broken wrist, the 'Little Samurai' he pushed through the pain barrier around the punishing, technical challenge of the Circuit of the Americas in a performance worthy of the history books, taking home nine points in the Championship.
Tito Rabat, Reale Avintia Ducati team, got his best finish, so far in eighth place, in front of Australian Jack Miller, on his GP17 Pramac Ducati. Miller's close turn one pass on fading factory rider Jorge Lorenzo also cost the Spaniard tenth place to Aprilia's Aleix Espargaró, who reached the finish for the first time this season.
Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, completed the top ten, having an impressive ride keeping Jorge Lorenzo, Factory Ducati Team, behind after a tough race for the five-time World Champion.
Danilo Petrucci, Alma Pramac Ducati Racing, took 12th, ahead of Pol Espargaró, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, in 13th. Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda Idemitsu, was the top rookie in 14th, in front of Alvaro Bautista, Angel Nieto Ducati Team.
Pramac Ducati's other rider, Danilo Petrucci struggled on his Ducati GP18, finishing over 30-seconds behind Márquez, completing the point scorers.
Both Suzuki's Álex Rins and Tech3's Hafizh Syahrin crashed in separate incidents, while Karel Abraham was forced to retire due to pain in his wrist from Saturday's big accident.
By comparison to the first two races, this was quite a normal and an uneventful race!
RED BULL GRAND PRIX OF THE AMERICAS
MotoGP Race Classification
Austin, Sunday, 22 April 2018
After three rounds the MotoGP World Standing 2018
All tables compiled and supplied by motogp.com with thanks
Post Race Rider Interviews
Winner Marc Márquez Repsol Honda
"This weekend I really gave it my all. Today I was totally focused, as I wanted to remain perfect here at Austin. After my many mistakes in Argentina.
"I don't think that ever in my career have I had such a race, pushing so hard from the first lap. Today I felt that this was the right way and was able to do it, in part because my bike's setup helped me a lot, so thanks to everyone in my garage as they've worked really well and hard.
"Yesterday I was a bit ill, and even today I didn't feel I had perfect energy, but it turned out to be a good race anyway, a lonely one, but sometimes it goes like that. Last night when I was going to sleep, I thought about the strategy, and today I followed it. Even in the warm-up, I tried to simulate the first laps of the race, going out on new tyres and with a full tank. That was in the plan. I told the team that I wanted to try to lead the race from the beginning and pull a gap. So in the first three or four laps, I pushed a bit more than usual, and then I managed the advantage. Today I had special motivation. There was a lot of pressure, but I like the pressure, as it helps to keep focused. I felt a special feeling on the last lap, when I passed in front of Nicky's flag.
"So, I'm happy with the result and for recovering ground in the Championship, but now we go back to Europe, where we must be consistent, because look who's leading the standings: Dovi, the most consistent rider! The feeling with my bike is very good, and the same has been true in Qatar and Argentina, so we'll try and continue this way."
Second Maverick Viñales Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
"Starting from the front row made it much easier, and I could breathe more calmly. I was able to control the first three or four riders quite well. I'm happy overall, because the team focused on the weekend in a different way, and that was so good.
"I think we know how to go fast with this Yamaha and today we proved it. Our bike seems to be stronger than it was here last year, I felt good during the race. Even though it was difficult to challenge Marc, and even with the difficulties we had, we still came in second.
"I didn't want to make the same mistake as I made in last year's race, so I gave up on trying to chase Marc and controlled the gap to Andrea even more.
"I feel positive, but we have to keep pushing. Every day I'm feeling better on the bike and we're going to go up and up. The feeling with the bike has changed a lot. I feel good on the bike right now and we've got to keep it like that.
"I can't wait for the race in Jerez. Now we'll have four or five races where I like the tracks a lot, I really enjoy riding there. We're going to go for the win, I know we are not far away, and we're going to push for it."
Third Andrea Iannone Suzuki Ecstar Team
"I'm really happy about this podium, finally we have arrived here. We've come back after a really difficult period for me and Suzuki, but now things are better.
"This year we started well, but I struggled a lot during qualifying, especially in Argentina - when you start from further back it's really hard to recover, over-take, and use your pace. But during this weekend I've found a good feeling with the bike, and we have found a good balance with the braking. I had been struggling with the front-end under braking but now we understand the way to go and I'm really happy about this. We're still working to improve some areas but I'm really happy about my work and Suzuki's work because we have always believed in our potential, and step-by-step we are getting closer, this is important. I have learned a lot and we'll try to stay on top."
Fourth Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
"It was a good weekend because I was already in the top 5, but in the race I expected to be a bit more competitive, to try and fight for the podium. I knew that Márquez and Maverick were a bit stronger. I hoped I was fast enough for a fight for the podium with Iannone, but Andrea was faster than I was. I wasn't able to arrive, to attack. I suffered a little bit in the hot conditions, because the front gave me more problems than in the practice. We have to work. Now we have ten days. The next round will be in Europe, where the situation will be different."
Fifth Andrea Dovizioso Factory Ducati Team
"Even though I struggled a lot today, I'm pleased to return to Europe leading the championship! This year I was hoping we were going to be a bit more competitive both in Argentina and here in Texas, but we struggled like in 2017. If however we look at the points standings twelve months ago, I came to Jerez a long way behind the leaders and now we are leading the championship. It's true that the classification is very tight, but we've made a big step forward and even though the weekend began in a really difficult way for us, in the end we made the right choices of set-up, fairing and also tyres and we took home a good result, useful for the championship. Now I look forward to getting better, more consistent results at circuits the Ducati goes better on. In reality we have not done so bad. Now we can push again for the win."
Sixth Johann Zarco Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
"It was a difficult weekend. After a good qualifying, I didn't start well. Before the race I was crossing my fingers for the podium, but I think the others just did a better job. I knew where my weak points were on the track, but I tried to maintain the gap and play with it, but it was too difficult. This doesn't mean I struggled with the tyres, because the pace from the start till the end was quite constant, only not fast enough. When Dovizioso overtook me a few laps to the end, I couldn't match his pace. I expected to fight with him, but my weak points were worse than his. So, it means finishing sixth, when I'm struggling a lot is a lot better than nothing. Now we go to Jerez, where I am much faster I expect now to challenge for the podium if not the win!"
Seventh Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda
"I'm more than satisfied with having been able to finish this race and get some good points, and I'd like to thank everyone who has helped me in these days, as well as all the fans for the support they gave me.
"Honestly, before coming here I wasn't even sure I would be able to do the practices. It was a tough weekend, especially at this track; in some other circuits you might handle the situation a little better with a bit less effort, but this one is super-physical. I wasn't able to enjoy the race like I usually do, even though I took some painkillers that eased the pain a little. That allowed me to focus a bit more, though I don't have much strength. I had a decent start and tried to stick with the guys in front as much as possible. In the end I struggled to control my bike, but I managed and I'm happy with the outcome. Now we have some more days to try and recover as much as possible before Jerez. It's a track I like, so we'll see how much better I'll feel."
What our British Riders had to say, starting with
Bradley Smith 16th Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
"It was a good weekend and I felt like I had some pace especially in the beginning where I made up three positions and was fighting with Lorenzo. We took a gamble: Pol went with the soft front tyre and I went with the medium and with these temperatures I thought it would work but it just went off and there was nothing I could do. I held in there until lap twelve and then it was understeering everywhere. I knew it might happen…but was hoping it didn't! This is all part of the learning experience and figuring out what works with the KTM and how to improve.
"It is a bit frustrating to come away without any points but things were looking up this weekend so we have to be happy with that. Now I'm looking forward to Europe and Jerez, this is a circuit I have won at and always go well, so a top ten is my target and to beat Pol!"
Scott Redding 17th Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
"Our weekend has started off well, but then I was unable to progress as much as I would have liked to. I rode the race with the hardest tyre both on the front and on the back and the situation improved in terms of the front end, but I was lacking grip at the rear. To be honest, I expected more, but I can't be disappointed: Aleix did an excellent job today and that demonstrates that the bike has good potential, I just need to keep improving and learning.
"Now we go back to Europe and Jerez. This is a track I like and I've won there before in Moto2 so I feel positive we can do well and I'll be trying for a top ten finish."
Cal Crutchlow 19th LCR Castrol Honda
"Of course today we're very unsatisfied with the result. Going into the race we were leading the championship and coming out we're now fourth after I crashed on lap seven of the race.
"It was a disappointing end to what was a good weekend and a great pace we set, I'm sorry to the team. I made a mistake in the last corner, I didn't have a great feeling with the brake lever this weekend and I wanted to try and make a good run on Johann Zarco that lap and get past him to the podium fight.
"I definitely had the pace, but I made a mistake in the last corner and went down. We now have to look forward as a team to the next race in Jerez, I think I'll be able to be in the top 5, if not on the podium, that's my goal.
"I want to thank my crew for their hard work as we were on the pace throughout the weekend and during the race. We just look ahead and take the positives now."
Now the paddock packs up, get on the plane bound for Europe.
Next it's time for packed grandstands, Spanish sun, the awesome Circuito de Jerez and one of the best atmospheres of the year - with the Championship so close, it's going to be a cracker.
The opening European round of the season will be at Jerez, Spain, starts on May 6.
I'll be doing my preview, with a track guide and interesting things from the area.
So come back soon to read all about it.
- Roland Potter