After two successful opening rounds of the long-awaited 2017 MotoGP season so far, the MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 classes have made their way to the United States of America for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.
Marquez dominant in Austin, Texas
Since the track was included on the MotoGP calendar in 2013, Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez has dominated at the track, securing pole and winning at each of the four rounds since.
The Circuit of the Americas is actually the place of Marquez’ maiden MotoGP victory; a place that helped him to become MotoGP champion in his rookie year. The Spanish five times world champion, who currently holds the title after winning the championship in 2016 however, has not had the best start to the season with a fourth in Qatar and a DNF in Argentina.
Rossi hoping to make up for crash last year
The championship obviously is something that every rider ultimately aims for, and the race in Austin last year proved significant as Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) who is in pursuit of his 10th world title, crashed out losing vital points.
A bad start and a burnt out clutch led to the Italian coming off at the fast turn two in the early stages ending his race. Rossi was left sat on the tyre wall in shock wondering where it all went wrong.
Marquez was joined on the podium by Jorge Lorenzo (then with Movistar Yamaha) and Andrea Iannone (then with the Ducati Team). The 2016 Texas GP earned Team Suzuki Ecstar a fantastic result with their former riders, Maverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro who made up the top five.
Will Dovizioso’s luck change?
In Argentina in 2016, Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso suffered a great deal of misfortune as his podium finish was stolen from him on the final corner when his then teammate, Iannone, crashed into him bringing them both down and forcing the Italian to pick up and run with his bike where he heroically managed to finish 13th on foot. The following round in Texas, his misery continued as this time he was brought down by the gentleman who is Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda).
Pedrosa was, for some reason, unable to stop his Honda at the first turn of the track and again hit an unexpecting Dovizioso from behind. Pedrosa immediately came to his assistance at the side of the track and again in the pits where he apologised and shook hands with the Italian.
Hopefully, the 2017 round at the Circuit of the Americas doesn’t see history repeat itself once again as again this year; he was brought down in Argentina once again by Aleix Espargaro now on the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini RS-GP.
Later crashes came on towards the end of the race as two of the British riders, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Bradley Smith (then with Monster Yamaha Tech 3) came off at turn 11 due to what they thought was a spill on the track, but they were able to remount and finish the race.
Who will dominate in Moto2 with Rins out of the picture?
For the Moto2 class there was trouble at the start of the race again as after experiencing issues with jump starts at the opening rounds in the previous two rounds, again riders were penalised for a jump-start at the COTA Moto2 race as Axel Pons and Lorenzo Baldassarri had to complete a ride-through penalty down the long pit lane at the circuit; which in turns means the riders lose an awful lot of time.
In the 600cc class, Alex Rins (then with Paginas Amarillas HP 40) continued his domination over the race weekend after topping the Free Practice timesheets, claiming pole and going on to win the race. He was joined on the podium by British rider Sam Lowes and Johann Zarco, but with all three of those riders, and Jonas Folger who completed the top five, now out of the way after being promoted to the MotoGP class to complete their rookie year, Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) who was fourth may be the favourite to win should they finally get to grips with the Suter machine.
The Moto2 contenders…
Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) celebrated his first Moto2 win that he collected in Qatar, with a consecutive race win in Argentina will be looking to complete the treble before they return to Europe to continue on with the season. His teammate, Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) will be looking make up for his mistake on the last lap that cost him second on the podium in Argentina.
Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten) will be fully aware that Morbidelli has a strong lead in the championship, and a win at COTA will be a great opportunity to make up for lost points. There are several strong candidates in the Moto2 class capable of providing stiff competition, two of those being the Red Bull KTM Ajo duo of Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder.
Oliveira will be looking to improve on his amazing second place finish in Argentina after claiming a historical pole position for the team who have just expanded to the Moto2 class. And Binder is returning after undergoing another operation on his wrist as the plate from his first operation after his crash at the end of the 2016 season, had become loose and dislodged itself; it did not stop the South African from finishing seventh during the last race despite this.
Fenati and Oettl hot favourites in Moto3?
After a day in proceedings due to an oil spill the Moto3 race, Philipp Oettl (Sudmetall Schedl GP Racing) was on his first Moto3 career pole but it was Romano Fenati (then with the Sky Racing Team VR46) who went on to win at COTA comfortable with an unusual 6.6 second lead over Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia) in second and Binder in third. With those two out of the picture this year, and Fenati looking happy and comfortable with his new team Marinelli Rivacold Snipers, the Italian may be within a good chance of repeat success in Texas.
Still, he has to watch out for Joan Mir (Leopard Racing), John McPhee (British Talent Team) and Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) who have made up the podium during the two opening rounds of the 2017 Moto3 season which have proved to be highly competitive. Mir looks unstoppable, McPhee is fully embracing his new opportunity with a Dorna backed factory team, and Martin seems so happy and content that it will prove to be difficult for anyone else to claim their podium places for them.
Vital statistics of the Circuit of the Americas
They will all be battling out to do this on a 5.5km (3.43 miles) track ridden anti-clockwise covering 11 left hand corners and nine right hand corners. It measures 15m (49.21 ft) wide and the longest straight is huge measuring in at 1.2 km (3937ft) which should benefit the Ducatis in the MotoGP class, but the twists and turns before and after mean the Yamaha is more suited.
Built near Austin, Texas in 2012, and able to house 120,000 fans, it is spread over 1000 acres and features a 41metre elevation change; significantly at the end of the start finish straight which is met by the sharp turn one (similar to turn 12 at the end of the main straight). The MotoGP class will be racing 21 laps in Austin, the Moto2 class will complete 19 laps and the Moto3 class will complete 18 laps; with 2/3 laps distance being complete after 12 laps for both the Moto2 and Moto3 class.
Marquez holds all the records in Texas
Marquez has set the fastest lap time at the Circuit of the Americas In 2015 when he claimed one of his four pole positions with a time of 2:02.135. The Circuit Lap Record, which can only be officially set during the actual race, with a time of 2:03.575 which is 1.44 seconds slower. The top speed was reached by Dovizioso in 2016 on his Ducati with a speed of 345.2 km/hour.
Anything can happen in the Moto2 class as the lap record is held by Rins (now in MotoGP) with a time of 2:08.850 set in 2016 when he secured pole position, and the circuit record is help by Sam Lowes with a time of 2:09.994. British rider Danny Kent has the fastest Moto3 lap time from 2015 with a time of 2:15.344 when he claimed pole, but the Circuit Lap record is held by the late Luis Salom (who passed away during an incident in Free Practice 2 before the race in Catalunya); his record stands at a time of 2:16.345.
Tyre availability in the MotoGP class
The circuit will be very demanding on both the riders and the tyres. Michelin will be returning for the second time to the Circuit of the Americas, and with the number of left and right hand corners almost equal, the symmetric tyres will be available in both Power Slick and Power Rain; as the intermediate tyres are now not available.
The Michelin Power Slick will be available in a soft (white band), medium (no band) and hard (yellow band) compounds for both the front and the rear. The Michelin Power Rain tyres will be available in the soft (blue band) and medium (no band) should they be required; however rain is not expected.
Fun times for the riders leading up to the race
While we have all sat eagerly and patiently waiting for the next round of our beloved MotoGP, the riders have been off at the ranch of former MotoGP rider and legend, Colin Edwards. Born and living in Texas, he has his own ranch and prior to the race he has been very accommodating to many riders who have joined him there for a week of motocross racing, shooting and much more…. Where can we sign up?
The schedule is as follows:
|Free Practice 1||15:00 - 15:40|
|MotoGP||Free Practice 1||15:55 - 16:40|
|Moto2||Free Practice 1||16:55 - 17:40|
|Moto3||Free Practice 2||19:10 - 19:50|
|MotoGP||Free Practice 2||20:05 - 20:50|
|Moto2||Free Practice 2||21:05 - 21:50|
|Moto3||Free Practice 3||15:00 - 15:40|
|MotoGP||Free Practice 3||15:55 - 16:40|
|Moto2||Free Practice 3||16:55 - 17:40|
|Moto3||Qualifying||18:35 - 19:15|
|MotoGP||Free Practice 4||19:30 - 20:00|
20:10 - 20:25
|MotoGP||Qualifying 2||20:35 - 20:50|
|Moto2||Qualifying||21:05 - 21:50|
|Moto3||Warm Up||14:40 - 15:00|
|Moto2||Warm Up||15:10 - 15:30|
|MotoGP||Warm Up||15:40 - 16:00|