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A dramatic season opener at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar saw the race favourites encounter serious problems during the race.
Johann Zarco, Sam Lowes and Tito Rabat had set the pace throughout the weekend in Qatar but all had major problems come the race, with the latter two unable to finish. Austin was not kind to either Zarco or Lowes last year as both riders were unable to finish. The pair did have reputation for crashing but look to have changed that with a change of team and bike for Zarco and bike upgrades for Lowes.
2014 Moto2™ World Champion Tito Rabat and his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team showed strong race pace throughout the weekend and will be confident heading to Austin, a track that has seen Rabat claim two second-places from two starts. Meanwhile rookie Alex Marquez will be continuing to learn the Kalex machine and will be looking to recreate the exploits of his Moto3™ World Champion predecessor, Maverick Viñales, who claimed victory in America on his debut last year.
Surprise Qatar race winner Jonas Folger will carry this confidence and the Championship lead to the Circuit of the Americas where he will once again chase a strong podium finish. 2014 saw Folger struggle with pressure after a decent early season showing but spent much of the off season focusing on handling pressure and adjusting his mentality, Austin will offer a good test of his mental strength.
Teammate’s Thomas Luthi and Dominique Aegerter will focus on continuing to learn their new Kalex frames after nearly all winter tests were hindered by rain. Both the Swiss riders had positive races in America last year and Luthi will be looking to continue his podium run after a solid third. Aegerter’s adaption to the Kalex has not been as smooth, the former race winner finishing 15th last time out. However, a third at COTA last year should provide hope for a change in fortunes.
One of the stand out performances of the opening round was Alex Rins who has gelled quickly with the Moto2™ bike, able to fight from ninth on the grid to fourth. The former Moto3™ front-runner has proven he is strong over race distance but will be looking to qualify on the front two rows to ensure he can fight with the leaders from the beginning.
A return to a more standard practice and race schedule should benefit all Moto2™ riders and allow them to explore more set up options.
The Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas takes place between the 10-12 April, with practice on the Friday, qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.
You can follow all of the action, including watching all of the sessions as they happen, access live timing and much more via motogp.com.
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