Author: Myanna Wedes

Marc Marquez was crowned king of the Circuit Of The Americas and stands tall with his 12th consecutive victory on U.S. asphalt which is an amazing statistic for the record books. The first two laps had Marquez battling with Andrea Iannone, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi though the battle was soon over and Marquez was setting off like a jet plane heading towards the sun and moon. Five riders are in the hunt for the World Title and they are within eight points of one another. Talk about close! With that said, the American race was the Marquez show and no one could stop the Spanish rider from taking first place on the podium. In terms of race starts, Iannone had an absolutely marvellous start though was challenged by Marquez without warning in to the first few corners. The Italian rider did not give up though with a few tank slappers and his body almost being thrown from the Team Suzuki machine. We have to give Iannone a big clap for finally showing up with the goods and demonstrating that he is capable of a podium position on the factory Suzuki. Iannone: “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.” A new approach has seen Maniac Joe improve and certainly throw a spanner in the works for Suzuki’s contractual ideas in 2019. 

The Doctor Rossi and Vinales certainly improved from Argentina and put on a good display of race pace and confidence to take second and fourth place. At one stage, we thought Rossi might have the pace to take third away from Iannone although Rossi fell behind after trying early in the race to go wheel to wheel with his fellow Italian. The Yamaha riders have reignited their charge for a World Championship and it is important step for any title contender. No doubt the tyres had something to do with Rossi’s lack of performance. He was clocking high 2’05s and low 2’06s laps and finished taking the chequered flag in fourth place, 9.587s from first. Rossi: “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.” Rossi is aware that the next race in Europe at Jerez will be totally different again and that more work is required to be ready to attack his fellow rivals. Vinales was certainly more mature this year at the COTA: “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.” The key area of focus for Vinales is that the next four to five Grand Prix races are where he feels comfortable and confident. He is feeling recharged mentally and wants to achieve more success with Yamaha day by day. “We are coming” is his tagline after the race.

In terms of the title lead, Andrea Dovizioso takes over the front after Cal Crutchlow had a front end crash and did not recover points to stay ahead in first place. It was a real shame to see Crutchlow crash as he was pushing hard and gaining on Iannone. The British rider will have to regroup and look forward to Jerez in order to stay within the hunt in this ever changing World Championship. Crutchlow: “Of course today we’re very unsatisfied with the result. Going into the race we were leading the championship and coming out we’re now fourth after I crashed on lap seven of the race. It was a disappointing end to what was a good weekend and a great pace we set, I’m sorry to the team. I definitely had the pace, but I made a mistake in the last corner and went down. We now have to look forward as a team to the next race in Jerez, but I want to thank my crew for their hard work as we were on the pace throughout the weekend and during the race”. Sometimes mistakes are made and Crutchlow is already eager to earn back those points he lost today. We really look forward to seeing how the British rider takes on the rest of the grid in Jerez which is a colourful event that draws massive crowds! Austin for Crutchlow will be a race to forget.

The same can be said for Jorge Lorenzo. He struggled beyond comprehension and was very sad finishing the race so far back. With that said, recovery ride of the day goes to Jack Miller who actually apologised to Lorenzo for making him sit up in the corner to avoid a crash and as a result caused Lorenzo to lose more than one place. It was a disaster! Lorenzo: “For me it was a race to forget, and I’m very disappointed and sad. I was never able to lap with a competitive pace, I suffered a lot, as I feared, with used tyres and for this reason I had to slow my pace. Our bike requires a lot of physical effort on this type of circuit and opting for the hardest rear tyre didn’t help things at all. It’s a difficult moment and we have to analyze everything that has happened since the start of the championship, but I hope that starting from Jerez we will be able to reverse this negative trend.” The 2018 MotoGP World Championship is really testing the emotions of the riders and it is vital to remain composed at all times otherwise cracks start to show and riders make mistakes. In contrast, Miller made his race work even with the negativity of a poor qualifying session as a result of a crash in FP4. The Ducati rider understands now that he can achieve top results and is feeling more at ease with his bike as the races come and go. He will be one to watch and other riders are definitely going to have to be listening out for his engine noise when he attacks from behind. 

Marquez had some powerful words to say in reflecting upon his race and it is nice to see the multiple World Champion settling into a rhythm where he doesn’t have to be judged every second of the day. Marquez: “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.” Mind games are already in full swing between the riders because there is so much up for grabs. Dovi 46 points, Marquez 45 points, Vinales 41 points, Crutchlow 38 points and Johann Zarco on 38 points. It really is a battle for the brave and those who have that sweet feeling with their motorcycle. 

Right now, anything can happen so chances are that points will chop and change with dramatic races to come. This is MotoGP and 2018 is already smoking at the rears.

Credit: LCR Honda MotoGP Team and CormacGP



Credit: Team Suzuki Ecstar

Credit: Movistar Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team

About The Author

Myanna has an incredible grasp and knowledge of the sport in detail and continues to secure lead stories every week. She is in constant contact with team and rider media management. She is an admitted lawyer with two degrees and is currently writing a biography on Alan Jones MBE 1980 F1 World Champion. She is a fond lover of two wheel motorsport, predominantly MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.