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Rabat confidence high as Austin looms

Rabat confidence high as Austin looms

Tito Rabat began 2014 on the right note with a well-judged victory in last month’s Qatar Grand Prix. Off the back of a Marc VDS Racing Team one-two finish following Takaaki Nakagami’s disqualification, the likes of Nico Terol will want to respond…

It was Terol who convincingly won last year’s Moto2™ race at Circuit of the Americas on what was the World Championship’s first ever visit to the Texan race track. Proving that nothing should ever be taken for granted, Rabat’s then team-mate and championship leader Pol Espargaro crashed out due to an unforced error.

A year on, it is Rabat (who finished second in Austin last season) who returns to COTA as the championship leader. Marc VDS could not be happier, having scored the maximum possible 45 points between its two riders with Mika Kallio second, whereas Tom Luthi inherited a podium finish with Interwetten Paddock Moto2. This came after the Nakagami’s IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia entry was removed from second place due to running an illegal air filter.

Questions may have been answered in Qatar, but plenty of new ones were asked. Such as: can Luis Salom find his form to match Pons HP 40 colleague and former Moto3™ rival Maverick Viñales? The latter climbed by ten places to finish fourth in Qatar as well as becoming the first rider to post fastest lap on his debut in Moto2™ (excluding the first ever Moto2™ race in 2010). As for Salom, the Spaniard ended a troublesome weekend in 14th spot but this is not expected to become a trend.

There were battles through pain for the likes of aforementioned Kallio and Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP), with the German later being handed a penalty point for his part in the qualifying collision with Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Jordi Torres (team-mate to Terol). Also receiving a penalty point was Federal Oil Gresini Moto2’s Xavier Simeon following an off-track misdemeanor with AirAsia Caterham’s Josh Herrin. Incidentally, both Herrin and team-mate Johann Zarco are aiming for much more after being involved in a four-rider incident on the very first lap of the season.

Sam Lowes was particularly impressive at Losail, as the British rookie finished sixth on his World Championship debut for Speed Up. He will be looking to use this as a motivator with 17 events still remaining in the 18-round campaign. Last year in Texas, pole position was clinched by almost seven tenths of a second; judging by the form so far in 2014, it may be decided more by hundredths or even thousandths…

The first Moto2™ session at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas will be Free Practice 1, which gets underway on Friday from 10:55am local time (GMT -5).

Moto2, 2014

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