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. ❤️