2019 MotoGP
Round Three – COTA

The King Is Dead
Long Live The King


My fellow grit-eyed fanatics who endure the early fly-away rounds of the MotoGP will understand when I say MotoGP is a sport that destroys perfection at every opportunity.

COTA MotoGP Grid Girls – Image by AJRN

It is a cruel and beautiful spectacle of immense courage, with blistering demonstrations of seemingly impossible skill and commitment. And it rewards and it crushes the riders with equal ambivalence. It is very much an allegory for life in that respect.

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Maverick Vinales – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

Reigning World Champion, Marc Marquez, came to the Circuit of the Americas (who even knew there was more than one America?) in Austin, Texas, numbered like the Biblical Beast – 6 starts, 6 poles, 6 wins. He’s actually won there 13 times, but in the Premier class, his dominance is indeed Biblical.

The next day, he flew out of the US with 7 starts, 7 poles, and a fat DNF.

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Wonder if Marquez scored any points with the grid girls… – Image by AJRN

And now the championship looks very different.

Marquez has always been able to bank 50 certain points in a season – COTA and Assen.

Now he is fourth after three races. I doubt very much he will stay in that position, but I reckon we’ve all worked out that nothing in MotoGP is certain.

Except maybe the fact that Cal Crutchlow will crash his brains out. A man can certainly bet on that certainty.

MotoGP Rnd COTA Friday Crutchlow
Cal Crutchlow

And I’m going to start putting money on Vinales not ever being able to capitalise on a good grid position.

In the lead-up to the race, the usual Pom commentators were all about the Marquez. I do not blame them. It looked like a given. He was unbeatable in Practice and Qualifying, and his win was a foregone conclusion – except it’s MotoGP, remember?

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Marquez was on pole for COTA MotoGP – Image by AJRN

So when they lined up, I dragged myself out of my bed at stupid o’clock in the morning, levered the dog off the couch, got myself a coffee, and settled back to watch the Beast smash them all again.

Interesting grid, I thought after seeing Qualifying.

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Valentino Rossi – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

Jack Miller was enthroned in fourth and Petrucci, whose seat is up for grabs at the end of the year (and in just a few rounds we will know things we are only guessing about now), was back in eighth. His team-mate, Dovizioso had not done anything impressive in Qualifying and was back in 13th.

Rossi had been consistently fast in the lead-up, walking a bit like a gunslinger after his strong performance in Argentina, and was in second.

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Jack Miller – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

Next to him was Cal in third, but I felt, deep in my waters, where that would end up. In fifth was Asparagus P – granting KTM the highest grid position the up-and-coming Austrians had ever had.

Maverick was in sixth, just ahead of Rins and Petrucci, while the news kids, Quartararo, Morbidelli and Bagnaia surrounded a depressed Lorenzo like jackals around a wounded lion.

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MotoGP Grid Girls of COTA – Image by AJRN

The Circuit of the Americas has two things to recommend it. The grid girls are the smilingest, and it is a brutal track. They say the most physically challenging of them all. It is also bumpy, with poor grip, and a fierce first turn which almost always result in tears.

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MotoGP Grid Girls of COTA – Image by AJRN

But not on this occasion. It was all clean. Marquez had the hole-shot, and was closely followed by Rossi, Crutchlow, Miller and Rins. Dovizioso found redemption by quickly levering himself into sixth. Lorenzo went backwards to 15th, and everything appeared to be going to Marquez’s program.

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COTA MotoGP Start 2019 – Image by AJRN

He quickly started to eke out a lead, and try as Rossi might to stay with him, Number 93 can be uncatchable a lot of the time.

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Marquez quickly started to break away from Rossi and Crutchlow

We were treated to two jump-starts this round. Both Vinales and Mir did not remain statue-still between the red lights going on and the red lights going off, and both copped ride-through penalties.

Vinales, clearly awash with rage and despair, gave himself an extra penalty by riding one of those new long penalty corners, before also cruising through the pits radiating angst. It was funny watching his pit-crew trying to explain his bizarre actions to each other in pit-lane.

Four laps in Crutchlow explored the Texas gravel, and Marquez as already 1.6 seconds clear. In two more laps he was three seconds ahead.

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Marquez was leading by a country mile before throwing it away

Rins began his charge early and gave Miller something to chase when he passed him. Lorenzo, pulled over, his Repsol Honda once again failing to proceed (it also lunched a chain in Practice), and was dinked back to the pits looking like a sooky thunderstorm.

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Jorge Lorenzo hitching a lift back to the pits – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

And then Marquez fell off. Three times actually. He low-sided, then he picked the bike up and it fell over. Then he tried to bump-start it and it fell over again. So he just kinda lay there on his back for a few seconds doing the mathematics of the championship table in his head.

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Valentino Rossi – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

My heart soared. Rossi was in front for the first time since 1865, it seemed.

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Jack Miller – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

But behind him Rins was gaining, steadily, like a slow-dripping tap filling a bucket. Behind Rins, Jack Miller was enjoying the solitude of the bloke who’s faster than everybody except the two blokes in front.

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Rins chasing Rossi – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

Rins eventually passed Rossi with four laps to go. His Suzuki and his riding style clearly able to get the best out of his tyres. And while Rossi was obviously lining him up for a last-lap eat-my-shit stunt, two small corner errors cost The Doctor the win.

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Rossi chasing Rins – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

Rins’ was beyond ecstatic. His first MotoGP win revealed him to be an immensely humble and likeable rider who was as amazed to have beaten his idol Rossi as he was to stand on the top step of the podium.

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Rins celebrates victory – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

This was Suzuki’s first win since Vinales brought them some joy back in 2016.

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Alex Rins celebrates his maiden MotoGP victory

Miller finished eight seconds shy of Rossi and Rins, and Dovizioso (who now leads the Championship) was another whole second behind him for an important fourth.

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Jack Miller and Rossi enjoy a cuddle in Parc Ferme – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

Maverick managed to finish in 11th, just ahead of Iannone, but quite a bit behind Nakagami, whose Honda was the only Honda to see the chequered flag.

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Rins celebrates victory – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

And now, as they say in the classics, Laughing Time is over.

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Two old men celebrate on the podium – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

The European rounds await. Nine tiny little points separate the top four riders.

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Jack Miller celebrates his third place finish – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

And Rossi’s feeling mighty fine.

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Valentino Rossi second at round three – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

2019 MotoGP – Round Three
COTA MotoGP Results

Pos Rider Team Time
1. Rins A. Team Suzuki Ecstar 41:45.499
2. Rossi V. Movistar Yamaha +0.462
3. Miller J. Alma Pramac Racing +8.454
4. Dovizioso A. Ducati Team +9.420
5. Morbidelli F. Petronas Yamaha SRT +18.021
6. Petrucci D. Ducati Team +21.476
7. Quartararo F. Petronas Yamaha SRT +26.111
8. Espargaro P. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +29.743
9. Bagnaia F. Alma Pramac Racing +30.608
10. Nakagami T. LCR Honda +31.011
11. Vinales M. Movistar Yamaha +34.077
12. Iannone A. Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +34.779
13. Zarco J. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +42.458
14. Oliveira M. KTM Tech3 Racing +44.272
15. Rabat T. Reale Avintia Racing +44.623
16. Abraham K. Reale Avintia Racing +44.740
17. Mir J. Team Suzuki Ecstar +48.063
18. Syahrin H. KTM Tech3 Racing +1:07.683
DNF Lorenzo J. Repsol Honda Retired
DNF Marquez M. Repsol Honda Retired
DNF Crutchlow C. LCR Honda Retired
DNF Espargaro A. Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Retired
MotoGP Rnd COTA Start
MotoGP 2019 – Round Three

2019 MotoGP – Round Three
MotoGP Championship Points Standings

Pos Rider Team Pts
1. Dovizioso Andrea Ducati Team 54
2. Rossi Valentino Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 51
3. Rins Alex Team Suzuki Ecstar 49
4. Marquez Marc Repsol Honda Team 45
5. Petrucci Danilo Ducati Team 30
6. Miller Jack Alma Pramac Racing 29
7. Nakagami Takaaki LCR Honda 22
8. Crutchlow Cal LCR Honda 19
9. Espargaro Pol Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 18
10. Quartararo Fabio Petronas Yamaha SRT 17
11. Morbidelli Franco Petronas Yamaha SRT 16
12. Vinales Maverick Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 14
13. Espargaro Aleix Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 13
14. Bagnaia Francesco Alma Pramac Racing 9
15. Mir Joan Team Suzuki Ecstar 8
16. Oliveira Miguel KTM Tech3 Racing 7
17. Lorenzo Jorge Repsol Honda Team 7
18. Iannone Andrea Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 6
19. Zarco Johann Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 5
20. Rabat Tito Reale Avintia Racing 1
21. Syahrin Hafizh KTM Tech3 Racing 0
22. Abraham Karel Reale Avintia Racing 0
23. Smith Bradley Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 0
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Grid Girls – COTA 2019 – Image by AJRN

 

 

 

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