Competing in his 93rd MotoGP race, Marc Marquez rode the RC213V to his sixth straight win of the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas MotoGP, the Spaniard having been unbeatable at COTA since the circuit was added to the calendar in 2013. It was also Marc’s 12th consecutive victory on U.S. asphalt, an amazing statistic.
Viñales started from first place on the grid and was in third place after the first corner. He needed a couple of laps to find a good rhythm before he started chasing the man in front of him, with Rossi in his wake.
With 14 laps to go, the Spaniard put in a block pass into turn 1 on Andrea Iannone, so he had a clear track ahead of him to hunt down the race leader. He consistently dropped laps in the 2’05s, but was not able to inch closer and decided to focus on managing the gap to the riders in pursuit. He did so brilliantly, finishing the race in second place, holding a 3.560s gap to the front over the finish line.
As the lights went out, Andrea Iannone was able to get an excellent start from his front row grid position and he led into the first turn. He lost the position to Marc Marquez on the first lap but continued to stay in contention, fighting hard and keeping a high pace. This consistency paid off as he briefly regained the lead on the third lap. The Italian then held 2nd place for a further two laps before Maverick Viñales made a move. From 3rd place Andrea maintained and managed the gap and held firm – his perseverance and the hard work of all the team was richly rewarded with his first Suzuki podium. With this brilliant finish Andrea Iannone was able to gain 4 positions in the championship standings, and he is now just 15 points from the lead as MotoGP heads back to Europe.
Rossi speeded to the first corner from P5 on the grid, but with all riders squeezing through the tight left-hander, he was pushed back a position. He soon reclaimed fifth place though, as he passed Johann Zarco in the first lap in turn 12. The next lap he also picked off Cal Crutchlow, so he was directly behind Viñales.
As his teammate passed Iannone at the start of lap 6, the Doctor pressed to do the same. He was looking threatening behind his compatriot, but couldn’t quite manoeuvre his bike into third position. As his tyres started to lose grip, Rossi lost touch with the fellow Italian. For the remainder of the race he clocked high 2’05s and low 2’06s laps in a lonely ride and finished taking the chequered flag in fourth place, 9.587s from first.
Andrea Dovizioso returned to the top of the points standings in the MotoGP World Championship with a fifth-place finish in the GP of The Americas. The Ducati Team’s Italian rider, who started from row 3, scrapped with Zarco and Crutchlow for much of the 20-lap race, and after the latter crashed out, he attacked the Frenchman on lap 17 to take the chequered flag in fifth.
Also impressive today was Marc’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, who is recovering from the surgery he underwent less than two weeks ago, and who put in an incredible effort to earn seventh place. With his first win of 2018, Marc now stands second in the World Championship Classification with 45 points, just one point down on Andrea Dovizioso. Dani sits in 11th place with 18 points.
Now the MotoGP field will transfer back to Europe for the Continental phase of the season, starting at Jerez, Spain, on 6 May.
“This weekend I really gave it my all. 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.”
“Starting from the front row made it much easier, and I could breathe more calmly. I was able to control the first three or four riders quite well. I’m happy overall, because the team focused on the weekend in a different way, and that was so good. I think we know how to go fast with this Yamaha and today we proved it. Our bike seems to be stronger than it was here last year, I felt good during the race. Even though it was difficult to challenge Marc, and even with the difficulties we had, we still came in second. I didn’t want to make the same mistake as I made in last year’s race, so I gave up on trying to chase Marc and controlled the gap to Andrea even more. I feel positive, but we have to keep pushing. Every day I’m feeling better on the bike and we’re going to go up and up. The feeling with the bike has changed a lot. I feel good on the bike right now and we’ve got to keep it like that. I can’t wait for the race in Jerez. Now we’ll have four or five races where I like the tracks a lot, I really enjoy riding there. We’re going to go for the win, I know we are not far away, and we’re going to push for it.”
“I’m really happy about this podium, finally we have arrived here. We’ve come back after a really difficult period for me and Suzuki, but now things are better. This year we started well, but I struggled a lot during qualifying, especially in Argentina – when you start from further back it’s really hard to recover, over-take, and use your pace. But during this weekend I’ve found a good feeling with the bike, and we have found a good balance with the braking. I had been struggling with the front-end under braking but now we understand the way to go and I’m really happy about this. We’re still working to improve some areas but I’m really happy about my work and Suzuki’s work because we have always believed in our potential, and step-by-step we are getting closer, this is important. I have learned a lot and we’ll try to stay on top.”
“It was a good weekend because I was already in the top-5, but in the race I expected to be a bit more competitive, to try and fight for the podium. I knew that Marquez and Maverick were a bit stronger. I hoped I was fast enough for a fight for the podium with Iannone, but Andrea was faster than I was. I wasn’t able to arrive, to attack. I suffered a little bit in the hot conditions, because the front gave me more problems than in the practice. We have to work. Now we have ten days. The next round will be in Europe, where the situation will be different.”
“Even though I struggled a lot today, I’m pleased to return to Europe leading the championship! This year I was hoping we were going to be a bit more competitive both in Argentina and here in Texas, but we struggled like in 2017. If however we look at the points standings twelve months ago, I came to Jerez a long way behind the leaders and now we are leading the championship. It’s true that the classification is very tight, but we’ve made a big step forward and even though the weekend began in a really difficult way for us, in the end we made the right choices of set-up, fairing and also tyres and we took home a good result, useful for the championship.”
“It was a difficult weekend. After a good qualifying, I didn’t start well. Before the race I was crossing my fingers for the podium, but I think the others just did a better job. I knew where my weak points were on the track, but I tried to maintain the gap and play with it, but it was too difficult. This doesn’t mean I struggled with the tyres, because the pace from the start till the end was quite constant, only not fast enough. When Dovizioso overtook me a few laps to the end, I couldn’t match his pace. I expected to fight with him, but my weak points were worse than his. So, it means finishing sixth, when I’m struggling a lot is a lot better than nothing.”
“I’m more than satisfied with having been able to finish this race and get some good points, and I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me in these days, as well as all the fans for the support they gave me. Honestly, before coming here I wasn’t even sure I would be able to do the practices. It was a tough weekend, especially at this track; in some other circuits you might handle the situation a little better with a bit less effort, but this one is super-physical. I wasn’t able to enjoy the race like I usually do, even though I took some painkillers that eased the pain a little. That allowed me to focus a bit more, though I don’t have much strength. I had a decent start and tried to stick with the guys in front as much as possible. In the end I struggled to control my bike, but I managed and I’m happy with the outcome. Now we have some more days to try and recover as much as possible before Jerez. It’s a track I like, so we’ll see how much better I’ll feel.”