To answer the question posed in yesterday’s qualifying report headline: COTA is still Marquez’s territory.
Maverick Vinales appeared to be the only person who could shake Marquez at the track he has been so triumphant at, but today it just wasn’t meant to be. Surprisngly, Mav crashed out at turn 18 very early on, killing his one chance at ending Marquez’s COTA winning streak.
Dani Pedrosa got off to a great start off the line, managing to get in front and lead the first few laps. But Marquez was not far behind and with 13 laps to go, he snatched the lead from Pedrosa and made off in front.
Rookie Johann Zarco gave a notable performance, but was sure to ruffle some feathers as he made a “risky” move on Rossi to try for 3rd. As he came on the inside of Rossi, he forced him off the track and we saw the factory Yamaha take a ride through the run off. He rejoined in front of Zarco, but was given a 0.3 second penalty for gaining an advantage. But the real question is: did he really have any other choice?
Another solid start came from Jorge Lorenzo, who has clearly been struggling in the races leading up to Austin. He qualified in 6th and finished in 9th – which is a fantastic improvement for the struggling Ducati man.
This weekend, we lost Karel Abraham who was already injured with a broken ankle. He insisted on racing anyway, but crashed out of the race early on. After his spectacular save yesterday that surely went viral, Loris Baz went down with 12 laps to go – I guess he couldn’t save that one.
When all was said and done, Marquez made it five from five at COTA, followed by Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa.
Moto2 really was not much to write home about. Franco Morbidelli made off in front as expected, and to begin with team mate Alex Marquez was not far behind. Marquez put up a good fight, but was bested by Mattia Pasini and eventually Taka Nakagami.
The real action from the race came on the first lap – when Stefano Manzi appeared to not even bother breaking or steering through the first corner, heading straight on into Julian Simon, sending them both into the gravel.
Overall, Franco Morbidelli took his third win out of three this season, followed by Thomas Luthi – who seemingly came from nowhere to fight through the pack – and Taka Nakagami.
Moto3 was a little more action packed (as expected). A fantastic start from pole man Aron Canet saw him speed into the lead and even start to break away from the rest of the pack. However, a crash from Kaito Toba saw the red flag make an appearance. It was confirmed as a 12 lap restart.
Canet has looked unstoppable all weekend, and it looked as if Fenati could be the only one to upset his rhythm. During the restart, he couldn’t shake Fenati as well as he did in the first half, but managed to keep him at bay. With just 8 laps to go, Canet went flying into the gravel, opening up the win to Fenati. The battle for second and third came between Fabio DiGiannantonio and Jorge Martin. In the end, Martin bested DiGiannantonio and they completed the rostrum.
Championship leader Joan Mir finished in 8th position, and it is also worth noting that Kaito Toba (the man who caused the red flag to come out in the first place), crashed again after the restart with 9 laps to go.
MotoGP next heads to Jerez in a couple of weeks time.
MotoGP results (top 5):
Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda Team – 43:58.570s
Valentino Rossi – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 44:01.389s
Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda Team – 44:03.882s
Cal Crutchlow – LCR Honda – 44:06.408s
Johann Zarco – Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 44:06.727s
Moto2 results (top 5):
Franco Morbidelli – E G 0,0 Marc VDS – 41:20.078s
Thomas Luthi – CarXpert Interwetten – 41:22.711s
Takaaki Nakagami – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 41:26.887s
Alex Marquez – E G 0,0 Marc VDS – 41:29.930s
Dominique Aegerter – Kiefer Racing – 41:31.005s
Moto3 results (top 5):
Romano Fenati – Marinelli Rivacold Snipers – 27:15.841s
Jorge Martin – Del Conca Gresini Moto3 – 27:20.345s
Fabio DiGiannantonio – Del Conca Gresini Moto3 – 27:20.368s
Enea Bastianini – Estrella Galicia 0,0 – 27:20.514s
Nicolo Bulega – Sky Racing Team VR46 – 27:20.809s
(photo credit: Ara Ashjian)