#AmericasGP Saturday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
There was adrenaline from the moment the lights went out for the Tissot Sprint at the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) lined up on pole position for the first time in 2023, and it was game on as the chasing pack were eager to get the better of the number 1. Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) tried it early but was shaken off as Bagnaia sprinted free to take victory, but the number 42 battled back into second for a first taste of Prosecco with Honda. It was a duel to decide the final place on the podium, with Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) storming up from 12th on the grid to fend off Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) for third on the final lap.
Rins got the perfect launch as he took the holeshot into Turn 1, but the Honda then ran wide and allowed Bagnaia back through. It only took a few corners before Rins threw it back up the inside of the Ducati again, but the Italian bit back and used his Borgo Panigale power to blast past the Spaniard on the back straight. Meanwhile, Aleix Espargaro and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) had also made impressive starts, shooting up into third and fourth, respectively.
With one lap down, Rins was still all over the rear wheel of the factory Ducati, but then the LCR rider out-braked himself at Turn 12, allowing Espargaro through. It almost let Quartararo through the door as well, but despite a little contact Rins was able to fend the Frenchman off. A lap later and it was Martin next on the scene to duel Quartararo, and the number 89 made shortish work of it, blasting past up into fourth.
Quartararo did his best to find off the Ducati rocketships, but next it was Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™). On the brakes, the 2021 World Champion then overshot Turn 12, allowing Alex Marquez through. Half a lap later it all came tumbling down as Quartararo’s Yamaha slid out at Turn 1, with the Frenchman rejoining but well down the order.
Back at the front, Bagnaia began to stretch out the field as he put down some lightning-fast pace. Aleix Espargaro and Rins were holding station in second and third, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long. With four laps to go Rins muscled his way past the Aprilia, but as the battle for P2 came to the end of the back straight once again, Rins barrelled into the braking zone ever so slightly over the limit of his LCR Honda. That sucked in Aleix Espargaro, who followed Rins into the corner and ran wide. Alex Marquez was also caught out, the number 73 then down and out of the Tissot Sprint.
Meanwhile, Rins was able to make it stick and make his escape, with Aleix Espargaro left to duel Martin. The Prima Pramac rider had made an attack stick, but onto the final lap, Espargaro was almost riding pillion through the slalom section, desperate to find a way past. The Spaniard wanted to get through on his compatriot before the Ducati could stretch its legs on the back straight, but it wasn’t to be. The final sector arrived and there was only one thing for it: a lunge. Espargaro dived up the inside at the penultimate corner, but he ran wide and the Pramac cut back up the inside, giving Martin his second Tissot Sprint podium of the season.
Whilst the riders out front scrapped it out, the battle for the top five was hotting up too. It was Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) who led the group, with Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and teammate Luca Marini in hot pursuit. In the end, the South African was able to fend off the Mooney VR46 Racing riders and bring home fifth from 11th on the grid. Bezzecchi, however, retains the points lead overall by one single point.
Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) got the better of Jack Miller(Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) to bring his Aprilia home in P8, with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) rounding out the top 10 after a tough start for Top Gun.
Celestino Vietti (Fantic Racing) is back on top… The Italian stole pole position away from wonder-kid Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas by just 0.020 after an incredibly close shoot out, with the two joined on the front row by Filip Salač (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2™).
Salač set the benchmark on the first run, but as the riders headed out for their second bite of the cherry, it was the flying Acosta who stormed to the top of the pile despite strong laps from Jake Dixon (GASGAS Aspar Team) and Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team). With just over a minute remaining, Dixon was on a flyer but a moment for Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), who was right in front of the Brit, halted his progress as he consolidated P6.
Meanwhile, Vietti was on a flyer and put in the perfect final sector to push Acosta off the top spot and take pole. That pushes Salač down to P3, with Bo Bendsneyder(Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) heading Row 2 via Q1. Fifth goes to Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools Speed Up), also from Q1, with Dixon sixth. Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) is next up, and Arbolino starts P8.
The early bird got the worm in Moto3™ qualifying at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas as Jaume Masia’s (Leopard Racing) very first fast lap proved unbeatable once set. Polesitter in Portimao and Argentina, Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP), got closest as he gets ready to race from second place, with Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) going one better than Termas with third and the front row in Texas.
Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) heads Row 2 this time around, with points leader Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) just behind him in a reverse of their Championship positions. Holgado also crashed in Q2, but rider perfectly ok and no one able to really shuffle him down the order. Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) completes the top six.
Argentina winner Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) starts tenth, with fomer COTA winner Romano Fenati (Rivacold Snipers Team) in P13 just ahead of Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo).