MotoGP: Marquez makes it a hat-trick in Austin
After two practice days with fog, rain and strolling dogs on the track, the second round of the MotoGP season followed just in style. After a Moto2 race under relatively normal conditions, the start of the premiere class was delayed for 37 minutes. Reason for the delayed start was a massive water spilling under the bridge in turn three. Where the water was coming from still nobody knows.
Polesetter and COTA expert Marc Márquez started well, but into the first turn it was Ducati Factory rider Andrea Dovizioso, who was leading the field in front of Repsol Honda rider Márquez and Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi. His teammate Jorge Lorenzo, despite a good start, fell back to fourth place. For Tech3 rider Pol Espargaró and Marc VDS rider Scott Redding the race already ended after the first turn due to a mistake by Redding. The brit dived too tight into turn one and unfortunately took Espargaró out as well.
In front, Dovizioso tried to escape, but Márquez stayed close and took the lead from the italian after a few laps. Rossi, by then surely hoping for his second victory this season, battled with Dovizioso and could overtake him. But those battles cost time, which the current world champion used well to open up a massive gap on his pursuers.
Behind the leading pack second Ducati rider Andrea Iannone, who started the race in seventh position fought his way up, leaving the likes of Acstar Suzuki rider Aleix Espargaró, Tech3 rider Bradley Smith and Jorge Lorenzo behind him.
Smith was leading an incredible race, being fourth after the first turn and sticking to the leading group for the first few laps. Finally he had to give up onto the factory machines of Lorenzo and Iannone, but nevertheless finished the race in a strong sixth slot.
Up front Márquez was out of reach, but thanks to the horsepower of his Desmosedici, Dovizioso was able to sneak away second place from Rossi and keep it until crossing the finish line after 21 laps. It’s the second podium position for Ducati this season.
The Austin podium was completed by a still-smiling Rossi, since the nine-time world champion still leads the championship by one point over Dovizioso.
The bronchitis suffering Lorenzo finally managed to capture fourth place in front of Andrea Iannone, who set best lap times throughout the race. They were followed by Bradley Smith and CWM LCR rider Cal Crutchlow, who seems to feel comfortable with his factory Honda. Aleix Espargaró finished ninth, with his teammate Maverick Viñales following him in tenth place. For Suzuki it surely is a success to have both of their riders finishing in the Top Ten and proves, that the new bike can be competitive.
Hiroshi Aoyama, replacing Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who missed the Grand Prix due to arm-pump surgery, finished in 12th place. Aprilia rider Marco Melandri and AB Motoracing rider Karel Abraham both entered the box with 11 and 5 laps to go due to mechanical problems. Athinà Forward rider Stefan Bradl, Pramac rider Yonny Hernández and Avintia rider Mike Di Meglio crashed, but luckily all of them remained unhurt.
The third round of the MotoGP season will start on April, 17th in Termas de Río Hondo, Argentina.