#AmericasGP Sunday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
539 days and 24 Grands Prix have passed since Honda were last on top, and Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) has brought that long wait to an end with a truly impressive ride to glory at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas. The number 42 was pressuring Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) at the front of the field until the number 1 slid out, and from there on out Rins was on a mission to just keep. that. gap. And that he did, getting the hammer down once Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) had made it past Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and taking the flag with time in hand to celebrate. That brings Honda’s longest winless streak since they returned to the premier class in 1982 to an end, it’s the first LCR victory since 2018 and the team’s 100th podium in the Grand Prix paddock. It also means Rins has won a staggering 50% of the last six MotoGP™ races… and on two different bikes. How’s that for a one-man stat pack?
Behind Rins’ headline-grabber, Marini made his own as he held station in second once he was past Quartararo, and the Italian takes his first Grand Prix podium to follow up a first Tissot Sprint podium last weekend. For Quartararo, meanwhile, it’s a return to the rostrum for the first time since Malaysia last year as he turned the page following a tougher opening stint to 2023.
As the lights went out, it was the perfect start for Pecco as the Italian took the holeshot, with Rins in hot pursuit. There was drama on Lap 1 for others though as the Ducatis of Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) crashed out, the latter losing the front and then collecting a hapless number 73. Then more drama as Aprilia Captain Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) also fell victim to an issue, reportedly after an issue with his holeshot device.
In the meantime, Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) has come flying through the field to put himself in third place from 10th on the grid. Quartararo was hot on the tail of the Aussie too as Marini sat just inside the top five.
Bagnaia was putting on the pressure early on as he attempted to stretch out the field, but Rins wasn’t having any of it as the Spaniard latched himself onto the back of the factory Ducati. Rins, in return, piled the pressure on the number 1… and Bagnaia did, indeed, slide out of the lead. Now Rins was in a race against himself and the couple of seconds he had in hand, with some history on the line just waiting to be made.
Meanwhile, with 14 laps to go Miller had crashed out, rider ok, and that put fast-starting Quartararo up into second once Rins was the lone star in the lead. Marini was shadowing Quartararo’s every move though, and with 3.5s to the battle for 4th behind, the duo were putting the hammer down in hopes of catching the LCR Honda man out front.
With the laps ticking away and the gap not coming down, Marini decided it was time to make a move on the flying Frenchman and got past, then able to stay ahead and solely start to edge away.. With five to go, the Italian had just under a second in his back pocket and that second place was his barring any drama.
He couldn’t catch Rins, however, and the LCR rider had time to celebrate over the line as he took yet another impressive win. He doesn’t always win – although lately he has done half of the time – but when he does, it’s usually a highly notable day at the office and deserves a chapeau, this time cowboy-styled.
Marini brought home his Ducati for second and a first Grand Prix podium in the MotoGP™ class, with Quartararo snatching his first podium of 2023 in third as his focus switched to fending off fourth in the latter stages.
That fight was won by Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) as he stretched away from Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team) despite plummeting down the order at the start, with Championship leader Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) taking sixth. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashed out of that fight, rider ok and rejoining but taking three points at the back.
Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) were next up, with Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) completing the top ten and taking his first rookie top ten in the process.
The Moto2™ race at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas was an instant classic as a two-way scrap for victory saw Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) just pip Tony Arbolino (Elf MarcVDS Racing Team) on the final lap, setting up the perfect Championship rivalry in the process. The battle for third also raged on all race long, with Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) carving his way through the group on the final lap and taking his first Moto2™ podium, also the first Dutch podium in the intermediate class since Wilco Zeelenberg in 1994!
It was drama before the lights had even turned on in Texas as Jake Dixon(GASGAS Aspar Team) crashed on the Warm Up lap, halting his chances before the race had even started. When the lights did go out though it was a perfect start from Acosta, who took a tight line at Turn 1 to defend the lead before Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools SpeedUp) muscled his way through. Meanwhile, Arbolino made an incredible round-the-outside move through the slalom section to put himself into third.
Acosta was determined as ever as the Spaniard retook the lead on the way down to Turn 12, before a Lopez lunge at the penultimate corner attempted to take the lead but saw the Spaniard run wide and drop down to third – behind Arbolino.
With 14 laps to go Acosta attempted to stretch the field as he put the hammer down, with Lopez latched onto his coattails, but he hit a false neutral at the tricky Turn 12, allowing Lopez to take the lead as the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider dropped down to P5.
Acosta wasted no time in getting past Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) as the Spaniard put himself into 4th with his sights set on Arbolino and Lopez in front, and the three were able to escape Canet – before Lopez made a mistake and dropped down to sixth. This was it: the duel was on.
It was cat and mouse, with neither blinking, before with three to go Acosta found his way through as Arbolino ran wide at Turn 1. Further on around the lap it was then his turn, running wide to allow Arbolino back through. The Italian led across the line on the penultimate lap and it was gearing up for the perfect last lap scrap.
Once it was crunch time, Acosta couldn’t get any closer to the rear wheel of Arbolino’s Elf Marc VDS Kalex machine, but at Turn 12 the number 37 pounced and made it stick. That left Arbolino with one more shot at victory coming into the final two corners. Acosta ran incredibly defensively through them, allowing no way through for the Italian, but Arbolino took a wide swooping line into the final corner setting himself up for the drag to the line. It wasn’t quite enough but not by much, with Acosta taking the victory by 0.146s.
With the leading duo checking out at the front, the battle for third was hotting up nicely as Canet was coming under pressure from Fermin Aldeguer (BETA Tools SpeedUp), and the two QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2™ riders of Jeremy Alcoba and Filip Salač. After a charge up the order though, it was Bendsneyder who took it to make a little history for rider and nation.
Alcoba finished fourth with teammate Salač rounding out the top five, with the SpeedUp riders of Aldeguer and Lopez just behind. Canet, polesitter Celestino Vietti (Fantic Racing) and Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Master Camp) completed the top ten.
Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) is now a Grand Prix winner! The Spaniard did it in style at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, fighting at the front throughout and then pushing to just stay ahead of a serious scrap for the podium. Jaume Masia(Leopard Racing) took second, slicing back through after being forced into some avoiding action following a crash for then leader Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP), with Xavier Artigas (CFMoto Racing PrüstelGP) completing the podium as Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) lost out late on.
The race began as the classic Moto3™ freight train, but bit by bit a front, smaller group managed to escape: Sasaki, Masia, Artigas, Moreira, Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Ortola, after a mammoth wonder save early doors. And that’s how it stayed despite some chopping and changing, with the key drama coming in the latter stages.
That drama was a crash for Sasaki as the Japanese rider lost it in the lead, and in turn also forced Masia into avoiding action. That put the number 5 into a race against time to tag back onto the back of the now four-rider fight for the podium, but that he did and he was right back in the mix as the field prepared for the final lap.
Ortola led over the line, but Artigas attacked at Turn 1 and took over. It remained line astern for the rest of the sector, but the next move came from Moreira as he attacked Masia for third. And then he attacked for the lead, straight up, as Ortola also moved up into second. Moreira was in control heading onto the back straight though, somehow keeping the momentum, but the braking zone saw it come apart. Just a little too deep, the Brazilian opened the door and Ortola needed no second invitation, taking back the lead.
The fight for third just behind was even tighter, with Masia vs Artigas vs Holgado on the brakes and the number 5 coming out on top. The next target was Moreira, and the move came at the final corner. Ortola nailed it to head over the line for his first Grand Prix win as Masia attacked for second just behind, sending Moreira off line and causing a shuffle as the group all tucked in and pinned it. Masia made it to the flag first, with Artigas then just pipping Moreira. Holgado was forced to settle for fifth but that fifth means he retains the Championship lead, although now equal on points with Moreira.
Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) headed up a close second group ahead of David Salvador (CIP Green Power), David Alonso (Valresa GASGAS Aspar), his teammate Ryusei Yamanaka and Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completing the top ten.