Marc Marquez stretches MotoGP 2016 Championship lead with dominant COTA victory
All eyes were on Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) as the MotoGP World Championship lined up at the head the grid for the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas. The Spaniard went into the race with a perfect record on America soil; winning every MotoGP race he had started in the United States. While Marquez was quietly confident, there were a number of riders who were looking to return to the front once more.
Amongst them was Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), the 2015 MotoGP World Champion having suffered an uncharacteristic crash during Warm Up. Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) was another ready to make an impact, having qualified fourth; he started in seventh after his penalty from the Argentina GP.
All of the factory Yamaha and Ducati riders opted for medium tyres front and rear while pole-man Marquez chose the soft front with medium rear. The Circuit of the Americas has always been a challenging circuit for tyres and all who lined up knew that their choice on the grid would make a significant difference.
Roaring off the line, Lorenzo grabbed the lead into Turn 1 but ran wide on exit, allowing Marquez to move ahead. The field all made it through the opening corners safe, Lorenzo in second with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) hot on his tail. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) also made a good start and used the power of the Ducati to slide into second down the back straight.
As Dovizioso came through, so too did Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar), the Spaniard finding himself in fourth at the start of the second lap after starting in ninth. Espargaro had gone against the norm and opted for soft front and rear, the extra grip giving him a clear advantage in the opening laps.
For the third race in a row, Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) would crash at Turn 1.
The third lap began with Rossi crashing out of the race at Turn 2, losing the front mid corner. All the while Marquez and Dovizioso ran away at the front, Lorenzo defending his third place position. For the first time in 25 races, Rossi failed to finish in the top five.
Marquez continued to hammer home his advantage, leading Dovizioso by a second midway through the fourth lap of the race. Action intensified further down the field as Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) attempted to make up for a poor start to the race, battling hard with Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich).
Lap after lap, Marquez extended his lead and after only five laps his fourth straight win in Texas looked certain. But the remaining two spots on the podium were wide open, Lorenzo getting past Dovizioso with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) waiting patiently behind.
After a strong start, Aleix Espargaro began to drop back and soon Andrea Iannone passed him.
At the start of the seventh lap Pedrosa had a huge moment on the front end going into Turn 1, losing control of his Honda and ploughing into Dovizioso. For the second race in a row, another rider would take down Dovizioso. Pedrosa would be able to re-join, but Dovizioso’s race was over, the Italian leaving the circuit distraught but fortunately without major injury.
At Turn 11 on lap eight both Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) fell off as the crashing continued. Each was able to remount the race but the leading four now had huge gaps between them, separated by at least three seconds. All the falls had also promoted Iannone to a provisional podium in third place. The Team Suzuki Ecstar duo meanwhile continued to dice it out for fourth place, Viñales also running the softer rear but had opted for the medium front, which gave him increased braking stability.
Chaos unfolded behind, but Marquez remained cool, calm and collected as he upped his pace to the 2’04s, almost half a second faster than Lorenzo’s laps. Each lap saw Marquez set a new fastest lap of the race. None of the top three were able to make major progress on the rider ahead, unlike the Suzuki pair who continued to slug it out. Viñales would dive up the inside, only to have Espargaro come back past him soon after.
With ten laps to go, Dani Pedrosa would pull into the pits as his bike was too damaged to continue. In a true sign of sportsmanship, Pedrosa went to the box of Dovizioso to apologise for the incident and explain that it was not intentional.
The rhythm of the race continued, Viñales now a second clear of his teammate as all of the top seven riders were spread out on track. Even though he was now over six seconds ahead of Lorenzo, Marquez’s pace remained over half a second faster as he asserted his dominance at the Circuit of the Americas with each lap.
As many had predicated, Marquez walked to victory and crossed the line 6.107s ahead of Jorge Lorenzo. For just the second time in his career, Lorenzo takes to the podium at COTA as he ended the race second. Andrea Iannone rounded out the podium with a safe ride to third place.
Maverick Viñales secured his best ever premier class finish with fourth ahead of his teammate Aleix Espargaro, a great day for Suzuki with a double top five.
Scott Redding, Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Michele Pirro (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) and Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini).
Rabat was the lone participant for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS during the race after Jack Miller withdrew on Saturday. A right foot injury sustained in a nasty FP1 crash ruled the Australian out of action.
As the Championship returns to Europe, Marquez leads with 66 points a solid 21 points clear of Lorenzo in second. After failing to finish the Americas GP, Rossi slips to third with 33 championship points as clear gaps are already emerging.
Round 4 of the MotoGP World Championship takes place on the 24th of April at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España.
MotoGP 2016 – Round Three – Circuit of the Americas – Race Results
MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 25 Repsol Honda Team Honda 43’57.945
LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 20 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 6.107
IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 16 Ducati Team Ducati 10.947
VINALES Maverick 25 SPA 13 Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 18.422
ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 11 Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 20.711
REDDING Scott 45 GBR 10 Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 28.96
PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 0 Repsol Honda Team Honda 10 laps
DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 0 Ducati Team Ducati 15 laps
ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 0 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 19 laps
Marc Marquez – 1st
“I’m very happy with how the whole weekend has gone. This is a circuit that I like, one of my favourite, but there were some unknowns here because just before the race we decided to run the soft front tyre. In the end the team advised me very well, because the change gave me the good feeling with the bike that I had partly lost in the warm-up. I have to thank them all, as well as the Michelin technician. When I asked, they told me that I would be okay for the first 12-15 laps, and then after that I would have to manage the situation more, which is exactly what happened. We’ve taken another victory here in Austin and are now on a run of four in a row, which is great. In addition, the joy of the team after we won illustrates everything we’re working on. In these first three races of the year, we’ve made good use of the situations that we’ve encountered.”
Jorge Lorenzo – 2nd
“It was really important to finish the race and get 20 points after crashing at high speed in the morning, it was really difficult mentally to focus. I tried in warm up and through the few hours before the race to focus and convince myself for the race. It was a difficult beginning, the track was slippery and with the hard rear tyre and the full tank it was difficult to stop especially on braking. I made some mistakes I don’t normally do in the first lap. I couldn’t keep the pace of Marc, he was making the difference this weekend and in the race. I was fast enough to stay in second place and finish the race. You could see it was difficult to stay on the bike with a lot of crashes. Today the important thing was to finish and I did it.”
Andrea Iannone – 3rd
“It was really important for me to finish on the podium today, but more than anything else to finish this race with a good result. I was sorry I was demoted one row on the grid and in addition, at the start, I made contact with Dani and Aleix and lost a few places. In the race however I was very constant and always lapped with a good pace, very close to Jorge’s, and if I had started well, maybe I could even have fought it out for second place. In any case I am pleased with the way the GP went and I’d like to dedicate this podium to Ducati and to all the team because I made them suffer in the first two races and I hope that this result repays them for the commitment and the work that they are doing for me.”
Maverick Viñales – 4th
“Unfortunately we had some troubles with the grip at the rear tyre, I felt confident until almost half of the race, already thinking to be able to recover on the third place, but then the performance dropped dramatically and made the recovery impossible. At the end I decided to take the fourth and get to the finish. The result is positive, being fourth is my best result since I’ve been in MotoGP™, but after the positive weekend it is a pity that we couldn’t finalise an even better result. We have a day here to test and find some more solutions for the future, especially with the rear grip.”
Aleix Espargaró – 5th
“Finally this has been a very positive race, a good recovery from the bad feeling we had in Qatar and Argentina. I managed to make a good start and to find a fast pace. I tried to keep it and the final result is good. For the whole weekend we worked hard to finalise the set-up with the softer tyre and I knew that my advantage would have been at the beginning of the race; and this is why I tried to start very fast and take as much advantage as I could in the early laps. Then the performance dropped, which was normal, and we finally managed to get a fifth place; which is a good result. Of course I would like to get even better, but we have made important steps forward and we still have the chance to improve. With Tom, my Crew Chief, we already have some ideas about the set-up to try to find a better traction, which at the moment is our biggest issue. Tomorrow, we will try to work on them.”
Ken Kawauchi – Suzuki MotoGP Technical Manager
“Finally, we are happy with the result, but we are not completely satisfied with how the race went. Our pace throughout the weekend has been good, but finally we are still missing something to get the podium. In Argentina, Maverick could fight for the podium position before he crashed, which is a part of racing, but here, we weren’t at the same podium-pace and the final positions also came from some crashes, which happened ahead of us. Also, this is racing; some days you are lucky, others you are not, so we can be satisfied for the result, but we definitely need to improve to get back into the top-three fight, and the 20s-gap from the winner. We will have a day of private testing here in Austin tomorrow with a tight plan of solutions to try, together with the investigation into what we need to get the podium.”
Scott Redding – 6th
“Top 6 is a great result but it would have been nice to get ninth since there have been three crashes in the group ahead. In the end, I had problems with the front tire and I could not lap strong. I started to lose a second every lap, and I had to change my riding style in order to finish the race defending my position. I am happy because I started the race well and I lapped without making mistakes. It was a good race and I am very happy to have given joy to the team, who did a fantastic job today after the little problem we had in the warm-up and especially after the disappointment of Argentina.”
Pol Espargaro – 7th
“Today I certainly didn’t feel very comfortable on the bike but having said that I did my very best in trying to keep it on two wheels. At the beginning of the race, we decided to use the softer front tyre and in all honesty, it was really tricky to follow the other riders on full fuel load. Yet, once the tank emptied a bit, I was able to start pushing and I began catching my teammate. Then suddenly, I saw some crashes in front and I even had a moment myself, so I decided to settle down as I wanted to finish the race and leave the US with some valuable points. In the end, this is what we achieved, so now I am 4th in the championship which is a nice gift for the boss, as it’s his birthday today. The next GP will be back in Europe and on my home soil so I can’t wait to go to Jerez, especially after the positive start to the season so far. Of course, we go there with the aim of improving our performance further, but I believe that this year more than ever, consistency is the key for a strong championship result.”
Michele Pirro – 8th
“I am very happy and I must thank the team because after the difficulties of yesterday they made me feel at ease. I started behind, and I tried to advance without making mistakes. I am glad for that. Personal satisfactions? Yes, of course. It is not easy for me, I am always in hurry. I have to thank those who gave me this opportunity.I always try to do my best. Sometimes it goes well, others not. Now we go back to Europe, and I look forward to having another opportunity.”
Hector Barbera – 9th
“This was a difficult weekend and every day was getting more complicated. Maybe I came here with high expectations after the fifth place in Argentina, and I think this was not good for us, because during the whole weekend I didn’t work as I had to. So we arrived at the race today eager to race, but maybe with some unfinished homework. This is a very physical circuit and I suffered with my forearm; after five laps I had a lot of pain. Finally I could make up the weekend with another top ten finish and, although this is not relevant, we are the first Ducati and sixth in the standings after three races.”
Stefan Bradl – 10th
“A great result for us. I was quite competitive throughout the weekend. We made great progress, especially with the electronics. I am pleased because we continue to test and improve with every session. We are moving in the right direction. The team did a great job. Before the race I was very relaxed because I knew that I had a good pace. I lost a few positions at the start, just like in Argentina. I still don’t have quite the right feeling releasing the clutch and, especially here with the first turn on an uphill, missing that initial launch becomes a problem. In the turns the RS-GP really performed well. We are still lacking something in terms of power, but I’m confident because the guys at Aprilia ensured me that important updates are on the way”.
Alvaro Bautista – 11th
“A good race, but I cannot be 100% satisfied. I had a very good start, recovering several positions on the first turn and then contact with Baz dropped me back. When you have to come back from behind everything becomes more difficult. You have to physically force everything, deteriorating the tyre quickly and increasing the risk of making mistakes. It’s a shame because in the race we showed that we can be consistent and competitive. If I had stayed up with the second group, I’m sure we could have made a play for a better position. In these first three races, I have unfortunately never been able to show my potential because of external factors, but the results that we were able to achieve anyway give me confidence”.
Eugene Laverty – 12th
“It was a difficult race, which I expected because I didn’t have a fantastic feeling all weekend. I made a decent lap in qualifying to get fifteenth on the grid but I knew it would be harder in the race. The important thing on days like this when other riders crash is to finish the race and pick up some points, which is what we did. The rear tyre felt good for the whole race but the front I didn’t have a good feeling for on the right side, and that was why I crashed on Friday. Today I felt like I could crash every time on the right side of the front tyre so I was a little bit scared for that.”
Tito Rabat 13th
“It was another difficult race but we are improving all of the time. In Qatar I was alone and last but in the last two races I’ve managed to battle with some much more experienced riders and that is a big positive. I find it difficult to overtake in the first laps because I have a lot of movement from the front and it is easy to make a mistake. I need to finish and learn and that’s what I did again, so I am happy with my own job and also the job of the team. I had a good battle with Laverty and picked up some tips where I can be stronger. I passed Yonny and almost passed Laverty on the last lap but just couldn’t quite find a way through. Now I am looking forward to returning to Europe and being fully prepared for Jerez, which is a race I am really looking forward to.”
Yonny Hernández – 14th
“One of our main objectives today was to finish the race and we achieved that. However, I am disappointed because we made a good start and my pace was good because the changes we have made over the weekend gave me a good feeling with the bike. I was setting some good lap times in the race and I was in a nice battle with Pol Espargaró and Héctor Barberá, but from lap eight or nine onwards the tyres started to lose performance and in the end it was impossible to ride. The positive thing is that we have picked up two points and finished the race, so we can go to Jerez and know that we can be fighting there. The day things finally go right for us, we’ll pick up a good result. Jerez is one of my favourite circuits so I hope to do well there.”
Loris Baz – 15th
“I did a good start and I was in the right group, but on the second lap, when I was passing another rider, someone came from the inside and hit me. I tried to lift the bike, but I crashed. I don’t know who did it, but this is racing. It was difficult to finish the race without shifter, one centimetre footpeg, and damaged swingarm, but I did it for my team and my mechanics after such a good weekend. It was hard and I had some pain in my shoulder, but even though, my pace was not so bad.”
Bradley Smith – 17th
“Unfortunately, today’s result wasn’t the best and all of our hard work was lost because of something that was out of our control. I lost the front at turn 11 due to an oil spill or something on the racetrack. It was just a little bit off the racing line and when Cal went down it caught me by surprise, so I released the brake. I was slightly off line, just like he was and I fell at the exact same place. This was frustrating because it wasn’t a mistake of my own, but this is racing and these things happen. I couldn’t really do much once I got back on the bike because I had a damaged gear lever, which made it difficult to shift, plus I also lost the anti-wheelie so the final laps were tricky to say the least. However, I was determined to finish because we had worked hard all weekend and overall there are still many positives to consider as we were definitely stronger at the beginning of this Grand Prix than we have been in the first two. So to conclude, I am happy with the final performance at this event, but I am disappointed that something silly like this ruined our race. Now, we have a lot of work to do to catch up on points in the championship but once we go to Jerez we will be ready to push forward again.”
Valentino Rossi – DNF
“It’s a shame because at the start unfortunately I burnt the clutch. I was third but the clutch slipped a lot, so I had to go slow to try and recover the clutch and I lost some positions. At the same time I was not so far, I felt good with the bike, we worked well during the weekend and I felt fast. I had the feeling the clutch was coming back already but I entered turn two, I didnt feel from the bike I was too fast but looking at the result maybe I was… It’s a shame because we lost some points in the championship and also because we could make a good race. The positive side is that we are strong and very fast, so we will be ready for jerez.”
Dani Pedrosa – DNF
“It was a rather difficult weekend overall. The practice sessions didn’t go entirely well, but I approached the race with hope and I think we started quite well. I gained positions and was in a very good group, and I think we could have fought with Lorenzo for second place; the pace we had was much better than in practice. Unfortunately, I made a small mistake, losing the front end under braking when I was still turning into the corner. I lost control and tried to save the crash, but I ended up going down and taking Dovizioso with me. It’s a shame to have finished the race in that way, and I feel especially bad for Andrea and want to apologise to him. I’m glad he’s fine. The good news is that we took a big step forward from practice to the race. Now we must carefully look into the data we collected during the race and try to build on it for the Jerez GP in two weeks’ time.”
Andrea Dovizioso – DNF
“I am really very disappointed because once again today I was unable to finish my race following a mistake by another rider, and losing two possible podiums out of three is the hardest thing to accept in view of the championship. However I also want to look at the positive aspects: I didn’t hurt myself and given the way the incident happened it could have been a lot worse. In addition, in three different races, in very difficult situations to manage for the tyres, we have always been able to fight for the podium. Today we could have been second in the championship just a few points behind Marquez, so from this point of view I am very pleased with the work that we are doing. Even when we are not so fast in practice, in the race we always manage to be competitive: this is the way a factory rider has to race when he is thinking about the championship.”
Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager)
“Today’s podium compensates, at least in part, for last Sunday’s disappointment in Argentina. Iannone ran an intelligent race, without making any mistakes, and he brought home a third place that was important for his morale, and that of the entire team. Dovizioso was really unlucky, because also on this occasion he was having a great race and was unfortunately involved in Pedrosa’s crash while in third place. Luckily Andrea did not suffer any major physical consequences and now, after getting over the understandable disappointment, we will get back to work with him to prepare for the Jerez GP in the best possible way. Again at Austin, the Desmosedici GP showed that it was competitive and so we will return to Europe with the knowledge that we have done a good job in this early part of the season.”
MotoGP 2016 – Round Three – Circuit of the Americas – Championship Points Standings
MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 66 Repsol Honda Team Honda
LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 45 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 33 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA 28 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 27 Repsol Honda Team Honda
BARBERA Hector 8 SPA 25 Avintia Racing Ducati
DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 23 Ducati Team Ducati
VINALES Maverick 25 SPA 23 Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki
LAVERTY Eugene 50 IRE 21 Aspar MotoGP Team Ducati
ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 21 Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki
IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 16 Ducati Team Ducati
REDDING Scott 45 GBR 16 Octo Pramac Racing Ducati
SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 16 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
BRADL Stefan 6 GER 15 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia
BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA 14 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia
PIRRO Michele 51 ITA 12 Ducati Team Ducati
RABAT Tito 53 SPA 11 Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
HERNANDEZ Yonny 68 COL 2 Aspar MotoGP Team Ducati
MILLER Jack 43 AUS 2 Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
BAZ Loris 76 FRA 1 Avintia Racing Ducati
Michelin brought new rear tyres to the American circuit following a decision after last weekend’s race to begin production on a brand new version in readiness for today’s race. The tyres began their build process on Monday in Clermont Ferrand, France and were then shipped to Houston in Texas, before finally arriving in separate batches at the track on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. The new tyres had a stiffer construction with a softer compound, designed specifically for the Texan circuit, and built with a significant respect for safety to counter any incidents like the one encountered in Argentina last weekend, although the result of the analysis of Scott Redding’s tyre is not yet available.
Free Practice and qualifying went well with the new MICHELIN Power Slicks with all teams and riders adapting to the new rubber and dialling in the settings as practice continued, before Marquez secured his fourth pole position in-a-row at COTA on the Saturday afternoon. Today’s race was held in warm, but cloudy, conditions and as the lights changed to signal the start of the race in front of over 56,000 enthusiastic fans, Marquez led off the line, but was passed by reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. The 2015 champion was unable to make the move permanent and his Yamaha was relegated to second as Marquez again took the lead – a position that he would not relinquish again as he stormed to back-to-back victories on Michelin tyres, the first rider to do so sinceValentino Rossi in 2006.
Behind the dominant Marquez, Lorenzo rode a lonely race and was never really pressured as he took a comfortable second place, with Andrea Iannone in third on a Ducati to complete a podium of three different manufacturers. The variation in machines continued into fourth place after a race-long battle between Suzuki riders Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro, saw the former just edge out his team-mate. Sixth position and the honour of First Independent Team Rider went to Ducati’s Scott Redding, While Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro finished in seventh. Eighth and ninth positions went to Ducati, one ridden by Michele Pirro and the other by Hector Barbera respectively, whilst a solid ride from Stefan Bradl secured tenth for Aprilia and the fifth different brand in the top-10. Marquez’s victory takes him to the top of the championship classification after three-rounds, in front of Lorenzo and Yamaha’s Rossi – who unfortunately crashed on lap-three due to a clutch issue he suffered at the start of the race.
Michelin and the whole MotoGP paddock now heads back across the Atlantic ocean on its way to Europe as it moves to Jerez in Spain for round-four of the championship, which will be held on Sunday 24th April in the heart of Andalucía.
Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda
“During this weekend we have all done a really good job together. I want to say this victory is not only for me and my team, but for my Michelin Technician, because he convinced me that the soft front tyre option was good for me and it would be the right option for my riding style and that really convinced me.With this choice I was able to do a great race and I am very happy with the result. Now we go to Europe, these are tracks that are very different to where we have already been and also Michelin has more experience on them – because the tracks are older – so we will try to work hard again when we get there.”
Nicolas Goubert – Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of the MotoGP Programme
“What we really wanted to do here was to show that we could react in the correct way after the issue that Scott had in Argentina. We did exactly what we said we would do and brought some new tyres that were based on the extra tyre that we should have run in Argentina, but with compounds more suited to the track here. It was tight in the factory to get it done, but it worked and the tyres did a pretty good job, so we are pleased about that. Considering this is the first time that we have had these constructions on the race-track we are quite satisfied with the results.”
Piero Taramasso – Manager of the Two-Wheel Motorsport Group
“This has been quite a demanding week, because after Argentina we had to react quickly, so we had to build the tyre, ship it, get it through customs and then get it delivered to the track, so the logistics of that were not easy – but luckily everything went well. We got all the tyres in time so that the teams and the riders had time to test it properly and make the correct settings and then make the right tyre choice for the race. I really want to give a special mention to the Michelin Technicians and Fitters here at the track for their hard work this week, and especially the staff back in the factory who pushed so hard to make sure the tyres were made and sent here for us to use.”
Consistent Rins holds off Lowes for Austin victory
Alex Rins and Sam Lowes were in a league of their own in America, the Spaniard taking his first win of 2016 from Lowes as Zarco ends third.
Starting in pole position for the first time in 2016, Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) looked to be back to his best as the Moto2™ World Championship lined up on the grid for the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas. There were a number of developments down the grid, Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) lining up on a completely rebuilt bike in ninth.
All riders in the intermediate class opted for the same tyre combination: medium front and hard rear. Riders had been experiencing a drop in the tyres after four or five laps in practice.
The lights went out and it was Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten) who led the 28 rider field uphill into the tight Turn 1. His lead wouldn’t last as Alex Rins and Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) slipped back past him, a number of other riders sent wide but all remaining upright. A strong first lap would see Rins cross the line over half a second ahead of second place, several aggressive moves from Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) helping to bunch the group up.
Lowes continued on like a man possessed, pushing his way through on Aegerter with ease and setting his sights on Zarco. Before the second lap was over, Lowes was leading the second group and frantically pushing to stop Rins from running away even further. On the second lap it was also announced that Axel Pons (AGR Team) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) were handed ride through penalties for jump starts.
Immediately in the 2’09s, Lowes broke away from the chasing pack and quickly reduced Rins’ lead to under a second. Zarco remained in third as Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) did all he could to get past, the German running off track on multiple occasions as he looked for his chance. As Folger dropped back, Aegerter took up his cause and hunted for a way through on Zarco. The battle for third allowed Lowes and Rins to extend their advantage.
Able to consistently produce laps in the 2’09s, Lowes was able to slowly eat into Rins’ lead a tenth at a time. There was no such steady progress in the chasing group as Aegerter slammed through to third, his teammate Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) following him through at Turn 12 as he got past Zarco on the brakes. With Zarco no longer slowing him down, Aegerter immediately set his personal best lap of the race with clear track now ahead of him.
On lap seven, Rins was able to respond to Lowes’ challenge and open his lead to over half a second once more. Behind, Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) battled with Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) as the pair joined the battle for the final podium step. After a slow start to the race, Zarco was able to get himself back to the head of the group.
Zarco would not have it his own way as Luthi cut back ahead of him once more, the French rider now sandwiched between two Swiss riders with Aegerter behind in fifth. The second group would continue to brawl, Corsi and Nakagami capitalising on every chance they were given.
Lowes and Rins went through the motions of their dance at the front, the Brit edging in ever so slightly before Rins responded to maintain the gap at just over half a second. Lowes worked hard to stay with Rins as Zarco did the same with Luthi, all the while Nakagami edged closer and closer to a potential podium return. The Japanese rider tried an unconventional line at Turn 11, but was unable to stop his bike and dropped down to fifth.
With five laps remaining, Zarco once more awoke and pulled himself back into third. Nakagami continued to show well, but soon found himself pushed off at Turn 1 by Simone Corsi, the Italian stealing the inside line. This gave Zarco breathing room once again, by this stage the podium seemed set as Lowes was now over a second back on Rins.
But Folger had other ideas, the German, having had a quiet race at the back of the chasing group, burst into life as he began to battle with Luthi for fifth place. With this the final lap of the race began, Corsi once again throwing it up the inside at Turn 1, this time passing Luthi without issue.
For the third time in his intermediate class career, Alex Rins took victory. The Spaniard dominated the field and crossed the line two seconds ahead of Lowes who was in turn over six seconds ahead of Johann Zarco.
Aegerter would take fourth ahead of Folger.
Simone Corsi, Tom Luthi, Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team), Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) and Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team) completed the top ten.
For the first time in his career, Lowes leads the Moto2 World Championship with 47 points, but Alex Rins sits just a point behind on 46 and Zarco also remains in contention with 45 championship points. Luthi slips to fourth in the standings as he leaves Austin with 43 points.
At the start of lap six, Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) pulled into the pits with a clutch issue. It would be a disastrous day for the Leopard Racing team as Miguel Oliveira fell at Turn 6, retiring soon after.
Luca Marini (Forward Team) suffered a fall at Turn 11, brining Robin Mulhauser (CarXpert Interwetten) down with him. Both were unharmed.
Efren Vazquez (JPMoto Malaysia) continues to receive treatment at a local hospital, having being diagnosed with a compressed T12 vertebra and a fractured right ankle after falling during Qualifying.
Faultless Fenati cruises to first 2016 win
Romano Fenati made it three different winners in as many races as he cruised to victory ahead of Navarro and Binder.
The start of the Moto3™ World Championship race was delayed due to an oil spillage down the back straight. Riders and teams calmly sat in the pits and waited for the oil to be cleared. Just 15 minutes after the scheduled start time, riders lined up on the grid, the sun shining down and burning off many of the clouds overhead. As is often the case, the entirety of the field opted for medium front and rear tyres.
For the first time in his career it was Philipp Oettl (Schedl GP Racing) who started from pole, but a near perfect start saw Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) get the holeshot into Turn 1. The Spaniard immediately began to push, taking Oettl and Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) with him through the opening corners.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) started 12th and was up to sixth after just half a lap, Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) making similar progress further down the order. As the field crossed the line for the first time, Navarro would have a lead of over 0.7s as Fenati nipped up the inside of Oettl for second. The leading trio had a clear second advantage, Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing) heading the chasing group as they attempted to close the gap.
Fighting in the second group was fierce as the likes of Binder, Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing), Kornfeil and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) all tussled for supremacy. All the while Navarro set successive fastest laps to extend his lead, but on the fourth lap Fenati upped his pace and began to close in, setting the first 2’16 of the race which would soon be followed by Navarro’s first 2’16.
Although clear gaps of over a second would appear at the head of the race, riders in the leading five would continue to trade fastest sectors. As the seventh lap began, the gap between Navarro and Fenati dropped to under a second for the first time since the start of the race. With the leading two chasing each other and Binder and Quartararo dicing over fourth, Oettl was having a lonely race in third position, the German focusing on setting consistent times.
At the start of lap 8, Navarro made a mistake into Turn 1 and allowed Fenati to slide through with ease. Fenati tried to break away but Navarro rallied and attempted to close in on the KTM rider. But the gap would remain at around half a second for several laps, Fenati always able to respond when Navarro closed in.
Further down the order a number of battles continued to roar, Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) muscling his way inside the top ten. Oettl’s lonely Sunday ride came to an end with seven laps to go as he found himself followed by Quartararo and Binder, the French rider slipping through at Turn 1 with ease. The double CEV Champion wouldn’t go unchallenged as Oettl continued to look up his inside at every chance he got.
Another mistake at Turn 1 on lap 12 from Navarro would cement Fenati’s lead, the Italian opening a gap of over two seconds. The gap would continue to grow and the top two steps of the podium look set it stone. Quartararo continued to circulate in third, Oettl now half a second behind the French rider with five laps to go.
Having started from 30th, Qatar GP winner Niccolo Antonelli saw able to produce an incredible ride to get inside the top ten and battle with fellow Italian Enea Bastianini, who had started on the front row. Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) would join the Italian pair for a spirited battle.
Disaster would strike with three laps to go for Fabio Quartararo, his KTM encountering a problem that saw him rapidly lose positions. This promoted Oettl back onto the podium and lifted Binder to fourth. Drama would continue as on the penultimate lap Antonelli slid off at Turn 5. Knowing a potential podium was now on the cards, Binder put it all on the line on the final lap to get past Oettl. The South African was clearly having front-end issues but continued to push ahead. A perfect slipstream allowed Binder to grab third position down the back straight, able to hold off the German to the line.
Fenati took his first race win since the French GP in 2015 as both Navarro and Binder returned to the podium. Binder leads the championship by three points, Navarro sits second with 49 points. Thanks to his win, Fenati moves to third with 38 points.
Phillip Oettl and Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing) would seal the top five in the race. Locatelli taking his second top five finish in as many races.
Enea Bastianini, Aron Canet, Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV), Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) and Nicolo Bulega wrapped up the top ten. Quartararo would eventually end the race in 13th place.
Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia) was given a ride through penalty for irresponsible riding and causing Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) to crash the first corner on the second lap.
Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) and Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate) came together at Turn 1 after several laps, both able to remount before retiring.
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