Argentina was another weekend overflowing with headlines and this time, the field have had a weekend off to get suited, booted, and ready to go. So saddle up for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas as the paddock heads for Austin, TX, with both a new Championship leader and maiden winner in the field: Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team). Another Tissot Sprint and another surefire show await us at the horsepower rodeo!
MOONEY VR46 RACING TEAM
What to say about Marco Bezzecchi? The number 72 was on another level on Sunday last time out, and that's earned him both the points lead and his maiden win. The question now is, can he follow it up? With his track record it seems likely the answer is yes, but when and where remain to be seen. Teammate Luca Marini, meanwhile, also arrives from a first after taking a podium in the Tissot Sprint, and he'll be more motivated than ever looking over to the other side of the garage...
DUCATI LENOVO TEAM
It started perfectly for Francesco Bagnaia in Portugal, but it continued with a couple of bumps in the road in Argentina. On Saturday it was a safe sixth in the Sprint, and then on Sunday it looked like a well-controlled podium... until it slid away. Resetting now will tell us much about what the reigning Champion has in the locker for 2022. For last year's COTA winner Enea Bastianini, meanwhile, it's sadly another event on the sidelines as he waits for his shoulder to heal, with test rider Michele Pirro stepping in.
PRIMA PRAMAC RACING
It was a somewhat anonymous Sprint for both Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin in Argentina, but Zarco certainly hit back on Sunday with that late race charge for the podium. He'll want more as his search for that maiden win continues, and Martin will want to take a big step back to the front after a tougher weekend in Termas. His goal this year isn't a win, it's wins plural. Can Texas get the mission back on track?
GRESINI RACING MotoGP™
After a slightly scrappy Portimao, it came good for Alex Marquez in Argentina as the number 73 took his first premier class pole position and turned it into a first podium with Ducati on Sunday. Can he keep or improve on that pace once again in Austin? He's aiming to become a perennial presence in the fight for the rostrum. On the other side of the box, teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio will want a lot more as he watches the likes of Bezzecchi win races, but the number 49 also took a step in Termas. Can he keep it rolling to the flag?
Friday in Argentina made for ominous reading for the rest of the field as Aprilia Racing ended the day first and second, but it just didn't quite come together in the end. A year after the same venue staged his first win, Aleix Espargaro left Termas this time around with only 12 points in total, and he'll be absolutely focused on gaining some more in Austin. Maverick Viñales, meanwhile, has a pretty good haul of 32 but won't want to stay AWOL from that front group. The stars seem to threaten to align and then change their mind as he aims for that first win with Aprilia, so will it be a lucky visit to the Lone Star State or another wait?
RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING
'Sunday rider' was always a compliment to Brad Binder, but it just isn't true anymore after that stunning Saturday in Argentina. From 15th to 1st, the South African was simply not going to be stopped and put in a serious statement ride. Sunday saw bad luck hit early, so COTA will have to be the follow up performance... can we expect an encore? For Jack Miller, meanwhile, Argentina was another solid round. He's adapting, the project is putting those pieces together and some solid consistency - as well as flashes of serious speed - put him sixth overall as it stands. Will COTA be another step forward as he continues to impress and enjoy proving his doubters wrong?
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MotoGP™
Franco Morbidelli had a fantastic return to form in Argentina, and eyes will be on the number 21 to see if he can repeat the feat at another venue. Impressive in qualifying, the Sprint and on Sunday, it was a weekend he's needed and one he'll be keen to back up. Teammate Fabio Quartararo was no slouch though. Despite yet more bad luck, Sunday especially saw the Frenchman prove his quality once again as he sliced through from well down the order after a little close attention earlier in the race. COTA has never been the best venue for Yamaha, but in 2023 anything can and has been happening... with both riders on form, what will the Iwata marque deliver in Austin?
As we head into a venue he's ruled before, it's Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) holding the honour of top Honda after two pretty solid first rounds in his new home. With more and more track time we can likely expect more and more from the proven frontrunner, and COTA has some good memories from that previous win. What can Rins do this time out? Teammate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) will be hoping to cut the gap and get back on terms too.
REPSOL HONDA TEAM
The huge news ahead of the weekend was the withdrawal of Marc Marquez as his broken hand continues to recover. He’ll be replaced by test rider Stefan Bradl, and despite Honda having a tougher pre-season than some and Marquez having been injured in Portimao, his absence may seem a reprieve for some, such is the pure quality of his record at the track.
On the other side of the garage, Joan Mir, after that crash on Saturday in Argentina, will be hoping to get back into the learning curve and make more progress. Said progress was going pretty well in Portimao so we can be sure there’s much more to come from the 2020 World Champion.
GASGAS FACTORY RACING Tech3
There will be a new face on the grid for GASGAS in Austin, or more a new face for 2023. Jonas Folger joins the fold as the replacement for the recovering Pol Espargaro, and he'll be an interesting addition after some time on the sidelines. He did test in pre-season, however. Rookie Augusto Fernandez, meanwhile, has already scored some points and diced it up in the mix with much more experienced riders, so COTA is another chance to double down on his progress.
CRYPTODATA RNF MotoGP™ TEAM
It was a tough Round 2 for the RNF squad and Raul Fernandez certainly will be eager to get more from the Americas GP. He arrives with only a couple of points so far but some good flashes of speed shown, so can he start to turn it around in Texas? On the other side of the garage, Miguel Oliveira is heading to Austin hoping he passes a medical test on Thursday at the circuit. If that happens, the Portuguese rider will be back in action after such bad luck in the season opener.
Friday’s two practice sessions decide entrants to Q2, before the MotoGP™ grid qualify on Saturday morning. The Tissot Sprint then gets in gear at 15:00 on Saturday, before we rodeo on Sunday at 14:00. Don’t miss it!
Tissot Sprint: Saturday 15:00 (GMT -5)
Grand Prix Race: Sunday 14:00 (GMT -5)