ROUND 3: USACowboy’s hats on, ready to tame the beasts, the…

ROUND 3: USA

Cowboy’s hats on, ready to tame the beasts, the paddock was in Austin-Texas this weekend. Following the dramatic Argentina GP, all eyes were on Marquez as he was the favorite to win the Americas Grand Prix.

1. Austin King

No surprise came out of this US weekend as Marc Marquez continued his winning streak on the US sole claiming his 6th consecutive win at the Circuit of the Americas (his 10th overall in the USA).

Following the whole drama he was the center off in Argentina, Marquez made sure nobody, not even Race Direction, could take away from him a victory sure to come.

Used to fight for his wins, this time the spaniard stated he wanted to change his strategy (so that nobody could complain about his fiercely riding style) and went full Lorenzo-mode, took the lead early in the race (by lap 1), created a gap he then could control for the rest of the race.

The fact Marc Marquez seems so dominant so early in the season (his pace was also was way above everybody else in Argentina) should worry his opponents and give their bosses’ a whole bunch of new white hairs. Everybody still remember his fantastic 13 wins in 2014 which led him to his 2nd MotoGP title.

Can he repeat it this year ? Marc Marquez on any bike is a scary prospect but Marc Marquez on a bike he adores is a living hell for everybody else.

2. CoTA: C for Comeback!

It took times (since Maverick’s last win in France last season, to be precise) but Vinales finally seems to be back on form!

The spaniard was clearly enjoying himself and riding his bike the whole weekend. During practices he even seemed to be the only one that could have stopped Marc Marquez.

Qualified 2nd but starting from pole (due to Marc’s 3 places grid penalty), Maverick really was pushing to match Marquez’ pace but ended up 2nd. If Vinales can improve his first half of the race’s form, he could found himself being the only one able to fight the Repsol Honda rider this season.

Third on the podium is another man which we haven’t been talking a lot lately, or if we have, it definitely was not in good terms.

This US weekend felt like a resurrection for Andrea Iannone. Always on the pace and even challenging Marc Marquez for a lap or two at the start of the race, the italian wants to stay right were he is now, at Suzuki. Due to Rins’ certain renewal (official announement should come soon) and Lorenzo being linked to the second seat, Iannone had to show just what he is made off.

Will it be enough ? You can never say never but Iannone’s old demons are never too far away and one brilliant weekend can’t hide many aweful ones.

3. The case of Ducati

Qatar’s win seems so far away now for the guys in red as both factory riders and Danilo Petrucci struggled the whole weekend to found a decent pace.

While Andrea Dovizioso did not shine at all in the USA, he still managed to keep his cool and took very important points, the lead of the championship was a bonus.

Lorenzo on the other hand seems to be coming to the conclusion that his marriage with Ducati was doomed from the beginning and should end soon as he was « sad and disappointed » by his race. The spaniard out qualified his italian team mate but he never found the pace to fight for top positions during the race, leaving him at a very unnoticed 11th place finish.

I must admit, as much as i want this JL/Ducati combo to work, it just pains me to see such a brilliant rider not able to shine like he used to. Some found it boring but i found it fascinating to see Jorge Lorenzo aligned fast laps after laps in a way only him can like did on the M1.

Both riders hope things will change once they’re back in Europe. One thing is sure, Jerez might come as Ducati’s last chance to make it work with Lorenzo as the never ending rumors linking him to Suzuki next season are growing stronger than ever before.

4. The bravest of the Braves

Dani Pedrosa coming to the USA to race just a few days after his hand surgery was already a showcase of how brave the spaniard is.

Going straight to Q2 and finishing the race in 7th was unbelievable and unthinkable at first, yet, Pedrosa did it.

He later said that the points he took at Austin were worth the pain he had to endure during the whole weekend but, judging by the lastest rumors around Johann Zarco signing a 2 years deal with KTM, it might have also totally saved his ride.

We say « saved » but in all honesty, no matter how good Zarco is, Pedrosa still seems to be the best rider you can found for Repsol Honda’s second seat. He should also be rewarded for his constant loyalty to the HRC even in times where he should have totally left them in the sh*t they were.

Also, we want Dani to stay right were he is because we ship #TeamMani. And we’re not ashamed of it – AT ALL.

5. Honorable mentions:

Nicky was in everybody’s mind this weekend.

His Ducati was on display in the paddock and we loved seeing it again, the Hayden’s Hill is a lovely tribute from the Circuit of the Americas to the last US champion in date and Vinales & Lorenzo’s # 69 on their helmets were lovely gestures.

Marc Marquez also wanted to honor Hayden’s memory. His victory lap with the 69 flag had us crying heavy tears. Nicky, you are so missed. ❤️

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 2 – ARGENTINA CC35 – 10: That awkward…

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 2 – ARGENTINA

CC35 – 10: That awkward moment when 90% of the press don’t show up on your glory day.

AR42 – 9: The next big thing ?

JZ5 – 7: Hitting him on the back of the head with my baguette : « Don’t you ever touch Dani again! »

MM93 – 1: What kind of drugs was he on, on-track ?!

VR46 – 5: Time to keep your BFF in line, he’s putting himself in the middle of everything like his last name was Kardashian.

JL99 – 3: « If you don’t want the internet to burn you to the ground, you better stay out of Drama and not comment on it » –  #loqueaprendihastolos30

AD04 – 6: A miserable weekend saved, job done ✔️

JM43 – 7: *i shall not move from that starting grid, alone on it or NOT*

TR53 – 7: We almost forgot Tito was in MotoGP up until he got his hand on a Ducati

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 1 – QATARAD04 – 9: The curse of always…

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 1 – QATAR

AD04 – 9: The curse of always being the Bridesmaid and Never the Bride has been broken at Losail ! HALLELUJAH

MM93 – 9: If Marc Marquez comes 0.027s close to a win at Losail, does this mean he’ll win with 10 minutes gap in Austin ?!

VR46 – 8: Retirement isn’t part of Vale’s vocabulary.

JZ5 – 7: COCORICO on Saturday, ICE-COLD SHOWER on Sunday.

DP26 – 7: Oh, you wonna take Dani’s seat next season ? First step first, finish in front of him.

JL99 – 5: Brakes or no Brakes, Grumpy was at his TOP 10 level of grumpiness this weekend.

JM43 – 7: AirPlane Jack lands into the top 10 !

MV25 – 7: Be brave Mack, Vale will not race forever… Or will he ?

AR42 – 6: Even with a DNF, Alex is outshining Andrea, but Iannone’s instagram game is still stronger… STORY TBC !

ROUND 1: QATARAfter the cold – snowy winters comes spring and…

ROUND 1: QATAR

After the cold – snowy winters comes spring and with it, bike racing! Once again it’s in the middle of the desert at Losail that lights went off for the first time of the 2018 season. An opening round which tasted the exact same as last season with Dovi and Marquez fighting out on the line.

1. New alien here to stay

In the whole new motogp clip realised prior to the Qatar race, you can hear a voice say « they say they’re not human, some calls them aliens ». Well, let me tell you that if the alien club is still a thing then Andrea Dovizioso bought himself a place in it last season and he’s definitely here to stay from now on.

At Losail the italian dominated almost every session leading to the race, the only shadow to his weekend being the miss opportunity of a pole position and front row on Saturday.
Dovizioso being fast and winning the opening round shouldn’t come as a surprise though as he ended up runner up many time already behind the likes of Rossi or Lorenzo. Losail suits the italian.
It also suits the red beast. In a past not so far away, some would remember Stoner’s incredible dominance at the Qatari track.
Even though Desmo Dovi fought up to the very last corner and onto the line to get that win, we can easily say it would have been a disappointment for the italian combo to finish anywhere else than on the 1st step this year.

2. (Brake)ing the limits

If the opening round felt like a dream to Dovizioso, it was the exact opposite to his teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
The spaniard being on his second year at Ducati, each one of his moves is being looked on with a magnifying glass. The hopes are high, and so is the disappointment.
Can we blame Jorge Lorenzo for this first DNF this season ? Clearly no.

It’s true the spaniard struggle the whole weekend, not being able to found a pace giving him a chance to challenge Dovizioso or Petrucci but his pace, pretty much identical to Vinales, in the second half of the race could have pushed him into a top 5 or 6. Lorenzo suffered a strange weekend marked by God’s only knows how many mechanical issues. The biggest one of them happening in the race.

Lorenzo’s crash wasn’t due to mistake on his part like we could have thought at first but to a brake pad which went missing leaving the 30 years old to be in the middle of the track without any working brakes. He later explained he was forced to run wide and let go of his bike once he was in the gravel trap.
The scary prospect of having a rider left with no brakes, forced to crash out not to hit a wall or someone else did not shut the mouth of Lorenzo’s haters thought. Oh the joy of being Motogp’s vilain….


3. When the old feels better than the new

Yamaha’s winter and early days of the 2018 season were highly spoken off, especially due to their silly season being cut short with both Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi signing new 2 years deals with the japanese brand before the red lights even went out.

Rossi received a whole lot of question regarding his new contract. It’s true the news is quite exciting as he will be well past 40 in 2020. The italian shut down every questions about it on Sunday night stating this new motogp podium and being able to fight for wins shows it was the right decision to carry on racing.

At this point, even though it feels like this should be his last deal, one can only expect him to stay in the paddock, and most probably on track, for as long as he will enjoy riding these bikes.

If Rossi renewal didn’t come as a surprise, Vinales’ did. The spaniard is struggling in his quest to tame the M1 since he last won a race in the spring of 2017. Being forced into Q1, a bad start and an early part of the race glued in 15th at some point didn’t help his confidence.

Vinales leaves Losail happy though. After month of looking for a working set up, his team decided to go back to what they knew worked. His pace and incredible journey back to a well deserved 6th place in the second half of the race proves that MotoGP’s very own TOP GUN is on the right path to being competitive again.

4. About scary prospects

There’s two names who both stand outs this weekend: Marquez and Zarco. 

First, the frenchman. Talks about him are going on since last november and it went crazy since Poncharal’s announcement that tech 3 will be a KTM team next season splitting from Yamaha after more than 20 years together.

Rossi & Vinales’ new deals leave most of us wondering: why isn’t Zarco promoted to the factory team when it’s as clear as water that he could be a real title contender if one would give him an official package ?

After saturday lap record pole position and even though it did not resulted as a win or a podium, the question of his near future is still going on. Rumor has it he could be in talks with KTM and.. the HRC. Would the RCV be a good fit for the frenchman though ?
For now, Johann is only happy with his weekend, regretting only an issue with his front tyre past mid race.

Marquez on the other hand did not suffered any problems with his tyres. On a track which is known to be far from one of his favorites, the spaniard took 20 points and a 2nd place with joy. 

Even if it’s a now 3-0 for Dovi in terms of last corner battle wins, the simple fact that Marquez was able to fight and came THIS close to get the win at Losail against the power of the Ducatis in the straight should give nightmares to each and everyone of his opponents on the grid. 

It’s no surprise the spaniard celebrated his 2nd place like he would have won the race and couldn’t stop telling anybody listening just how happy he was to be so close to Dovizioso. If Marquez is able to do this at Losail, i cannot even begin to imagine what he’ll be do in Austin soon…. Like i said, scary prospect, indeed!

5. Honorable mentions

Alex Rins might leave Losail with a DNF but he surely made an impression all weekend long. 

Cal Crutchlow winning the 1st independant place proves just how strong the RCV is getting and that the progress made over the winter are to be taken seriously.

Last minute’s new comer Hafizh Syahrin takes his very first point in MotoGP.

Dani Pedrosa struggled all the way to the race but a very positive bunch of early laps left him feeling great about his weekend overall.