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Marc Marquez showed just how good he is by remaining unbeaten at the Circuit of The Americas as he cruised to victory in Austin.
After mixed weather over the course of the weekend, the sun came out and track temperatures rose to 35 degrees in time for the start of the MotoGP™ race, although there was a slight delay to proceedings as some standing water had to be cleared off the circuit.
When the lights went out it was Andrea Dovizioso who led the field into turn one, with Marquez happy to let the Ducati GP15 open up a 0.5s lead during the opening couple of laps. The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion waited until the fifth lap to make his move on Dovizioso and went on to open up a five-second lead, before easing off towards the end of the race.
Marquez has a 100% record at CoTA, having won all three of the MotoGP™ races held at the circuit since 2013, and once again the Spaniard went on to take a commanding win and send a message out to the rest of the paddock. No one had an answer to his pace on the Repsol Honda RC213V as he controlled the race expertly from the front: “I decided to keep calm in the early laps to try to understand the situation well, and when I started to find a feeling similar to practice, I decided to push the pace a bit. That was when I was able to open up a gap.”
A brilliant battle for second then ensued between Dovizioso and his fellow Italian, Valentino Rossi, with the riders almost colliding through turn 12 at one point. “The Doctor” had to use all of his skill and experience to try and hold off the charge of the Ducati as Dovizioso attempted to make his power advantage count down the 1.2 km straight at CoTA.
His efforts would turn out to be in vain though as he eventually lost out to Dovizioso, fading in the latter stages due to a tyre issue but maintaining his lead in the Championship standings with a 3rd placed finish: “I’m happy about the weekend, because getting onto the podium is a good objective when coming here. On paper this track is the worst for our bike. I am satisfied about the weekend as a whole because we were always in the top 4-5 and we also weren‘t so bad on the wet. For it to be perfect I would have had to beat Dovizioso, but unfortunately he was a bit faster. I didn‘t have a chance to try, also because after six or seven laps of pushing a lot, I had to ride very smooth. For some reason our bike destroyed the front tyre.”
Rossi went on to discuss that near-miss with Dovizioso: “Dovi said to me that we risked a lot overtaking in turn 12. From the bike I didn‘t feel it and I thought we had some margin. We passed each other very closely, but there was enough space.”
Dovizioso made it two second-placed finishes in a row after seeing off the challenge of Rossi and finished the race 2.3s behind Marquez: “It was really special to get the podium as it confirmed our pace at a completely different track. It was a really strange race, as you have to manage the tyres, the speed and the energy, and it was very difficult but I managed it in a perfect way, Marc was just on a different level.”
His verdict on the incident with Rossi: “I thought that we would both crash, as he cut the line too much and I couldn't reduce speed quick enough, it was very close, but thats racing.”
Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo left it late, overtaking the Ducati GP15 of Andrea Iannone with only three laps to go to snatch 4th place from the Italian: “We finished the race in the best way possible given the circumstances.” He also mentioned how he suffered against the Ducati’s straight line speed: “I wasn‘t fit and the bike also needed some extra performance on some areas of the track, especially on the straight I lost a lot.”
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith was the leading Satellite rider as he ended up in 6th after looking like he might be in with a chance of a podium earlier in the race: “I began with a strong start and to jump from 10th up to 4th was pretty awesome. The risk I took to go around the outside of the pack at turn one paid off. I have been studying previous races and saw how other riders got pinched on the inside, so I decided to gamble and go around the outside. After that, I was running comfortably with the leaders for the first five laps, but when Marc went past Andrea I was just missing that extra bit of pace.”
CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow recovered from a poor start that saw him down in 10th on the opening lap to finish in 7th, six-seconds behind his compatriot Smith: “In the race itself we had some problems, I got caught up in the crash on the first lap and lost nearly five seconds in one lap and from that point it was very difficult to catch up. The whole CWM LCR Honda team need to regroup now and come back to the next race stronger as we were too far behind the winner today.”
Aleix Espargaro was a further 2 seconds back in 8th, as he finished 19 seconds ahead of his rookie teammate Maverick Viñales on the second Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR in 9th, as both riders put in impressive performances for the returning Factory team, despite still being down on power.
Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci completed the top ten, ahead of the Repsol Honda of Hiroshi Aoyama and the leading Open class bike of Hector Barbera on the Avintia Ducati.
Nicky Hayden won the battle of the Open Honda’s in front of his home crowd, claiming 13th place in his 200th MotoGP™ race after an exciting fight with the CWM LCR RC213V-RS of Jack Miller (14th), and Alvaro Bautista (15th) on the Factory Aprilia Racing Team Gresini who claimed the first points for the newly returned manufacturer.
Scott Redding crashed on the very first lap after outbreaking himself at turn 11 taking out Pol Espargaro in the process, much to the chagrin of the Spanish rider, with Abraham, Melandri, Hernandez, Di Meglio and Bradl also failing to finish the race.
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