Circuit of Americas at Texas saw World Champion Marc Marquez achieve his third winning finish in three attempts to the prestigious MotoGP race track. It was also a rebounding return for the Spanish rider after his disappointing fifth-place finish in the season-opener at Losail MotoGP circuit at the Qatari city of Doha. Incidentally, it was at the COTA that Marquez had won for the first time in the elite MotoGP class as a 20-year old to kick-start his MotoGP career. The season which started at Qatar with talks about the huge capability of Ducati’s new machine, saw the proof in its two riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone taking the second and third places behind Valentino Rossi at Losail. While Andrea Dovizioso maintained his second place on the podium on Sunday, Iannone dropped to fifth spot behind Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo at COTA. But for Marquez, it provided a perfect start in a dominating race. In qualifying sessions earlier, Marquez was forced to park his bike, jumped a wall to run to the garage for picking up a back-up machine and still managed to grab the pole in a dramatic final lap. On Sunday, however, no such heroics were required and everything came easily to the world champion. In the end, he met with hardly any challenge from other competitors. Behind Dovizioso, Losail winner Rossi took the third spot on the podium at COTA.
After Saturday’s dramatic late-session heroics, in which the 22-year-old Honda rider grabbed the pole in unusual circumstances, Marc Marquez was in dominant form in Sunday’s main event. He won the race with a 2.3 second margin over the second-placed Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso while nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi was third on his Movistar Yamaha. At the end of two races of the season, Rossi leads the points’ table, Dovizioso is second and Marquez is in the third place. It was bright sunshine on race day but the officials delayed the start by 35 minutes because of water-spill on the track just before the warm-up lap. While crews came out to dry the track, riders went back to their garages. When the race finally got underway, Marquez pulled away from his first position but Dovizioso grabbed the lead on the first turn. Riding on the Ducati’s dream machine, the Italian zoomed past Marquez and held the lead for a while. Marquez stayed close and showed off the power of his Honda when he took back the lead at the track’s longest straight path. He passed Dovizioso as the riders headed into turn 12. The commentary team pointed out that this was the exact same spot, where F-1 driver Lewis Hamilton had twice gone past his opponents in the US GP in 2012 and 2014.
Once he went ahead of Dovizioso, the Honda rider kept going that way for the next 17 laps and opened a big lead over others. Behind Marquez, Dovizioso and Rossi were engaged in a tense battle for the second place. At one time the two Italian riders came close to colliding with one another at great speed but Dovizioso held his nerve to finish ahead of Rossi and earned his 26th career podium finish. Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha team-mate, Jorge Lorenzo finished fourth, Ducati’s Andrea Iannone was fifth, Monster Yamaha Tech-3 rider Bradley Smith sixth, CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow was seventh, Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro & Maverick Vinales eighth and ninth. The tenth place went to Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci. It was Marquez’s sixth straight MotoGP victory in US and he would come back for more at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August. Before that however, the series moves to Argentina next week to be followed by a six-race run in Europe. Two of those will be in Marquez’s home country.
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