Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, raceday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) initially fought it out with teammate Dani Pedrosa for victory in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, before being able to break clear in the latter laps of the race to take his stunning fifth win in a row in Austin – his 11th straight win on US soil in an incredible statistic. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) then put on a late charge to take second, with Pedrosa completing the podium – and former Championship leader Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) crashing out early on.
Off the line it was an absolutely stunning swoop around the outside for Pedrosa from the second row to lead – old habits die hard – as the Spaniard overtook teammate and polesitter Marquez to lead through Turn 1, with Rossi tucked in behind the two Repsol Honda machines.
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) got a great launch from P6 to overtake Maverick Viñales, and the two men dueled it out until Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) got into the action and followed Viñales past the Mallorcan – before the drama struck.
After two wins from two in the first races of the season, Viñales then suddenly slid out of contention – lowsiding safely, but out of the fight for victory and taking home a 0 for the first time since Argentina 2016.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) had moved up from his P9 on the grid to take the factory Ducati duo for fifth behind rookie sensation Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), with Andrea Dovizioso getting the best of Lorenzo to move into sixth.
A moment between Zarco and Rossi then saw the ‘Doctor’ taking to the run off as the rookie attempted a move, rejoining a little further ahead and subsequently receiving a 0.3 second penalty for time gained, to be applied at the end of the race.
It was then the Repsol Hondas’ time to duel, as Marquez and Pedrosa diced for the lead and the number 93 was able to begin pulling away with 13 laps to go.
As the last laps approached, Crutchlow dueled Zarco to take fourth as Top Independent team rider fourth and Rossi struck against Pedrosa to take third, with Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) also making it past Lorenzo in some late battles as the Italian crossed the line for his first points haul of the season in P7.
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) also made it past a Lorenzo struggling with grip to take eighth, with the five-time World Champion crossing the line in P9. Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller just beat rookie Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha tech 3) to complete the top ten, as the Aussie fulfilled his goal for 2017 once again in the third race of the season.
Second Octo Pramac Racing rider Scott Redding came home in P12, with Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) scoring points once again ahead of Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing) and Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team).
Bautista had crashed at around half distance but rejoined to score the point, with teammate Karel Abraham leaving Texas with a DNF alongside Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro, who suffered a mechanical problem. Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Sam Lowes and Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) also crashed out, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) pulling into the pits before rejoining to get more track time – crossing the line in P17 behind Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).
Next stop: Jerez. Last year, Valentino Rossi took a scorching win on ‘enemy’ soil in Spain, and the paddock now makes the journey to the classic venue as we return to Europe. And who leads the Championship?
The ‘Doctor’, six points clear and back on familiar, successful hunting ground…
Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took a third in a row this season in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, making him the first man to do so in the intermediate class since Daijiro Kato in 2001. Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) was the man on the chase in P2, with the podium completed by Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia).
Morbidelli got away in the lead from pole, with Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) getting a good launch from P2 to remain second and Marquez threatening in third on his 21st birthday, suffering a slightly slower launch off the line.
A big incident into T1 saw Stefano Manzi (Sky Racing Team VR46) hit Julian Simon (Tech 3 Racing), with the Italian getting penalized with 3 grid positions at the next race. Then another crash saw contact between Yonny Hernandez (AGR Team) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team); Jesko Raffin (Garage Plus Interwetten) caught in the crossfire but able to rejoin.
Marquez then took the lead from his teammate and Pasini, with Nakagami, Lüthi and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) chasing the front trio – and some choice moves from Pasini before Marquez ran wide, slotting back into fourth.
As the gap for Morbidelli saw him around a second ahead of Lüthi, Marquez got back past Pasini before the Italian veteran then lowsided out of contention at Turn 1 – and ‘Fast Franco’ at the front set a new race lap record.
Nakagami and Marquez dueled over third until the Japanese rider made it stick at Turn 12, and Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) hunted down Oliveira to take fifth after an impressive ride at a track on which the Swiss rider has seen some good results.
Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) shot up into seventh on a track that has often been a good one for the chassis – the last non Kalex to win in Moto2™ was the Speed Up at COTA in 2015 – ahead of Marcel Schrötter (Intact Dynavolt GP) and another top ten stunner from Tech 3 Racing’s Xavi Vierge.
The battle for tenth saw Luca Marini (Forward Racing Team) beat Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) to it, with Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40) staging an impressive comeback in the latter half of the race into P12, top rookie once again.
Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) led Brad Binder’s injury replacement Ricky Cardus (Red Bull KTM Ajo) home in P13, with Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) completing the points scorers after a late mistake saw him drop some positions despite some impressive pace.
Now it’s back east to Europe and the southern Spanish scorcher of Jerez, with Morbidelli on a full 75 points after three races.
Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) took a stunning win in the Moto3™ race at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, crossing the line over four seconds clear of dueling Del Conca Gresini Moto3™ teammates Jorge Martin and Fabio Di Giannantonio for his first win since the same venue last year. The race was initially Red Flagged and restarted, with distance shortened to 12 laps.
On the original start, polesitter Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was streaking away from Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) after a near perfect launch off the line, before the Red Flag came out following a crash for rookie Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) at T14 – rider ok. The race was restarted with Canet again getting the hole shot, but this time it was Fenati on the chase – and the Italian took the lead on the first lap before Canet got it back into T1, with the mission on to stop the Spaniard after his blistering practice pace.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) was the big winner second time off the line to move up into third, with a front group trailed by Mir, Martin, Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0) – before the gloves came off at the front.
After a stunning side-by-side duel between the two leaders Canet and Fenati, the Italian had settled back into second to try and stay with the Spaniard – until the polesitter suddenly highsided out of contention at T19, leaving Fenati in the lead after some impressive tactics.
The number five away by over a second, the podium fight seemed whittled down to Martin, Mir, Di Giannantonio and Bulega – with the group close together and switching positions until the ‘cavalry’ arrived in the form of Bastianini, John McPhee (British Talent Team), Juanfran Guevara (RBA BOE Racing Team) and Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing).
On the dawn of the last lap, it looked like a certain double podium for the Gresini duo, before Bastianini tried a move but headed wide and Martin and ‘Diggia’ were left to go head to head in the final corner – with the Spaniard surviving his teammate’s move to beat him over the line by only 0.023 to decide the rostrum.
Four and a half seconds ahead of that fight, Fenati crossed the line for his first win of the season in some style. Gloves off and fighting it out against Canet early on, the Italian then settled into an impressive rhythm when clear at the front – taking himself right back into the points battle near the top of the standings.
Bastianini, Bulega and Juanfran Guevara came home from fourth to sixth, with McPhee beating key Championship rival Mir to seventh and Oettl the final rider in the second group.
Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate), Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing Team), Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46), Jules Danilo (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers), Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Livio Loi (Leopard Racing) completed the top fifteen after some close fights up and down the field, with the fastest rookie Marco Bezzechi (CIP) in P17.
The Championship has now tightened at the top as the paddock prepares to head back to Europe for Jerez – with Mir now leading Martin and McPhee, and Fenati up into fourth.