MotoGP bad boy Marc Marquez was back to his dominant best this weekend, winning the Grand Prix of the Americas with ease.
After the controversy of Argentina, where Marquez was penalised for several riding infringements, including knocking off Valentino Rossi, the world champion was back in front of race officials on Saturday after he blocked Maverick Vinales’ flying lap during qualifying. While the infraction was not deliberate, Marquez was moved back from pole position to fourth on the grid.
Not that it mattered too much, for when the lights went green Marquez shot into a lead he would stretch and never lose. A brief contest from Andrea Iannone on the improving Suzuki was as close as anyone would come to challenging the Repsol Honda man, who pulled away by almost a second a lap in the opening laps before managing his lead in the second half of the race.
“This weekend I really gave it my all,” said Marquez, who is undefeated on a MotoGP bike at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) and has won the last 12 races he has entered in the United States. “Today I was totally focused, as I wanted to remain perfect here at Austin. I don’t think that ever in my career have I had such a race, pushing so hard from the first lap. Today I felt that this was the right way and was able to do it, in part because my bike’s setup helped me a lot, so thanks to everyone in my garage as they’ve worked really well and hard. Yesterday I was a bit ill, and even today I didn’t feel I had perfect energy, but it turned out to be a good race anyway – a lonely one, but sometimes it goes like that. Last night when I was going to sleep, I thought about the strategy, and today I followed it. Even in the warm-up, I tried to simulate the first laps of the race, going out on new tyres and with a full tank. That was in the plan. I told the team that I wanted to try to lead the race from the beginning and pull a gap. So in the first three or four laps, I pushed a bit more than usual, and then I managed the advantage. Today I had special motivation. There was a lot of pressure, but I like the pressure, as it helps to keep focused. I felt a special feeling on the last lap, when I passed in front of Nicky’s flag. So, I’m happy with the result and for recovering ground in the championship, but now we go back to Europe, where we must be consistent, because look who’s leading the standings: Dovi, the most consistent rider! The feeling with my bike is very good, and the same has been true in Qatar and Argentina, so we’ll try and continue this way.”
In truth the American round was a largely uneventful affair with most of the riders spread out around the long circuit. Britain’s Cal Crutchlow led the championship going into the American round and was involved in a battle with Johann Zarco for fifth when he slid off at the end of the seventh lap. The Coventry rider remounted and finished the race, albeit out of the points, but at least had the consolation of knowing that his lap times were comparable to the podium finishers. In a miserable day for the British riders, Bradley Smith and Scott Redding also finished out of the points and, over the three Grand Prix classes, John McPhee was the only Brit who managed to score points over the weekend, down in 14thin the Moto3 race.
The result sees the championship tighten up with just eight points covering the top five places. Last year’s runner-up Andrea Dovizioso snuck under the radar to finish fifth in COTA and leads the championship by a point from Marquez, with Vinales, second in COTA, five behind in third. Crutchlow drops to fourth in the standings, tied with Zarco, on 38 points – eight behind Dovizioso.
Round four of the championship takes place at the Jerez circuit in Spain in two weeks time.