In Hindsight: Marquez continues Texas dominance
After Argentina, Texas could have gone one of two ways; chaos continues to reign over MotoGP or normality settles. Last weekend Marc Marquez dabbled between both.
In qualifying he received a penalty that resulted in a 4th place start instead of pole position after an incident with Maverick Viñales, but when he swept to his sixth victory in six years at the Circuit of the Americas it was like the dust had settled after Argentina and everything had gone back to normal. Here’s a recap of what happened across the three classes in the third race of the season.
It was a scorching 38 degrees and rising in Austin when the MotoGP race got underway, and the track was still very dusty. It was Andrea Iannone would pulled into 1st position during the first lap but it was short lived as Marquez, the King of COTA, got out front and pulled away from the rest of the group.
Ironically, it wasn’t Marc Marquez who was aggressively bumping Rossi this week, instead it was Johann Zarco who got a little bit too close to the Italian during the first lap. There were several crashes including Hafizh Syahrin who was still recovering from a nasty fall from earlier and Cal Crutchlow who spun out on a corner but managed to get up and finish 19th. He had the pace, but had lost too much time to catch up to the main group.
Alex Rins, last week’s unexpected star of the podium, slid out of corner 12 and also caused a serious accident after the four riders behind him almost collided with his bike which was still on the track. But it was Marquez who sealed the win, with Vinales in 2nd, Iannone in 3rd and Rossi in 4th.
Crash List: Alex Rins, Hafizh Syahrin, Karel Abraham (retired)
Due to the Moto2 bike taking a wider corner the dust was visible from the first lap, but nevertheless Alex Marquez was off to a run-away start after several bikes ran wide between Luca Marini, Joan Mir and Dominique Aegerter.
Once again there was a close groups of riders, but this dwindled due to tyre wear later on in the race. Hard compound tires were better on the newly skimmed and very physical track, so riders like Marquez struggled for grip near the end of the race.
The top 5 throughout the race were Marquez, Francesco Bagnaia, Xavi Vierge, Marcel Schrötter and Mattia Pasini but Schrötter fish tailed which resulted in him high siding. Then Bagnaia took the inside line to overtake Marquez with six laps to go, what followed could only have been influenced by Bagnaia’s mentor Valentino Rossi as he overtook again straight after he fell short of 1st place and pulled away from Marquez – who was having issues with his poor tyre choice.
Bagnaia could pull away because Marquez had to break earlier, with the amount of cornering on the Circuit of the Americas this is crucial, allowing the Italian to strengthen his lead. Overall, it was Bagnaia in 1st, Marquez in 2nd, Oliveria in 3rd, and Joan Mir in 4th.
Crash List: Same Lowes, Stefano Manzi, Marcel Schrötter, Danny Kent, Xavi Vierge
This is a track that certain bikes struggle with – there are lots of tight corners that require first gear and a long 1km straight that undulates – but with Moto3 bikes all using the same engines, there was no clear podium contenders until near the end of the race.
None of them could gain an advantage from a bikes better speed on the straight so they stayed clumped together for the majority of the race, with the dust only settling a little after the start.
An early crash on the first corner involving Kaito Toba, Marcos Ramirez, Adam Norrodin, Gabriel Rodrigo and Jaume Masia meant that the riders weren’t off to the best start. The top five or six riders stole the show with an impressive and intense battle for the entire race.
Constantly changing, it was Marco Bezzecchi, Fabio di Giannantonio, Jorge Martín, Philipp Öttl and Enea Bastianini who led the charge, but it was only half a second between them and the riders sitting at 6th place to 10th place. With a track like this, slip streams are strong so riders were getting pulled with them.
Near the end it was Martín who pulled away, with di Giannantonio and Bastianini hot on his tail. Bastianini had a hard time catching up to Martín as he continued to push off di Giannantonio until the Gresini rider was fighting for 3rd with Bezzecchi who was sitting in 4th.
All the action happened in the last moments though, when Martín and Bastianini crossed the line in 1st and 2nd, Bezzecchi managed to pull 3rd place out of the bag and away from di Giannantonio who finished in 5th. A crazy last minute over take from Andrea Migno secured 4th for him, after he creeped up the leaderboard and stormed to a shockingly near-podium.
Crash List: Niccolo Antonelli, Kaito Toba, Marcos Ramirez, Adam Norrodin, Gabriel Rodrigo, Jaume Masia, Nicolò Bulega
In MotoGP, there was no major dramas like Argentina but things to note are the physicality of this track, where six corners require first gear, and a section is called the Snake due to eight continuous right left turns which requires real power and control to shoulder these heavy bikes around.
The best tyre combo was medium – hard which the majority of riders used apart from the Yamahas, but due to their good cornering capabilities they managed to secure a 2nd and 4th.
With all this talk of where Petrucci/Miller could go now that Bagnaia has obtained a Pramac MotoGP seat for 2019, it is worth noting that Miller finished 9th and was ahead of the Italian who was in 12th. But the rider who didn’t get enough recognition for his stellar 7th place finish was Dani Pedrosa who consistently kept up with riders in far better condition than himself.
After suffering a right wrist fracture in Argentina when he was involved in an incident with Zarco. Riding through the pain on such a physical track truly earned him his nickname of the Little Samurai.
Rider of the race: Dani Pedrosa.
In Moto2, there wasn’t any particularly genius moves like what we saw with Migno and Bezzecchi but a stand out rider was Joan Mir, who as a rookie has adjusted to the new Moto2 bike with incredible efficiency.
For him to be clocking in a 4th position so soon in the season is a great feat. Francesco Bagnaia is also looking like he could be a challenger for the championship due to his continued success in the third race of the season – but he will have to fight off a hungry Alex Marquez who could go one of two ways; crumble under the pressure of being Marc Marquez’s brother or become empowered by it and renew his fire.
Marquez has it in him to win the championship, but the pressure weighing him down will hopefully not stunt his progression.
Rider of the race: Joan Mir
In Moto3, it was an unsurprising win for Martín who has been showing true championship potential. Although his win was solid and well deserved, it was Bezzecchi’s incredible manoeuvre on the last corner that scored him 3rd place that overshadowed his win.
Migno’s sensational overtaking of di Giannantonio was so close to being a podium finish that it too deserved more recognition than it got, within a blink of an eye he pipped di Giannantonio to 4th place with such speed that you can see why he won the Dunlop Forever Forward Award for the most for overtaking in 2017.
He seems to be settling with his new team, Angel Nieto, after spending three seasons at SKY Racing Team VR46 and hopefully this will be the sign of a return to form for the Italian and bigger things.
Rider of the race: Andrea Migno