Marquez continues COTA winning streak while Vinales stumbles and Rossi takes championship lead
MotoGP 2017 – Round Three – Circuit of The Americas
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) initially fought it out with teammate Dani Pedrosa for victory in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, before being able to break clear in the latter laps of the race to take his stunning fifth win in a row in Austin.
Three MotoGP victories in Indianapolis and one in Laguna Seca; including his two Moto2 wins in the country, makes it Marc’s 11th consecutive victory in the USA. That said, the last time the Repsol Honda man had stood atop the podium was when he clinched last year’s title in Suzuka, Japan, last October, so this victory marked a welcome return to the top and boosted his fortunes up the championship ladder to third place behind the two Movistar Yamaha riders.
Marc Marquez – P1
“This was a crucial race because after Argentina it was important to come back in the best way, so we are really happy with this result. Although I won, it was difficult, because the temperature was much higher than yesterday. Five minutes before the start, I said to my chief mechanic, ‘Okay, let’s use the hard tyre’ because I knew that I would push the medium front tyre a lot. In the beginning I was just trying to understand the limit because I hadn’t tried it a lot on Friday. I was behind Dani and when I saw that he was struggling a little bit and Valentino was challenging, I said, ‘Time to attack.’ I was able to win, and I’m happy to be back in the championship.”
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) put on a late charge to take second, with Pedrosa completing the podium. Former Championship leader Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) crashing out early on.
An earlier moment between Zarco and Rossi then saw the ‘Doctor’ taking to the run off as the rookie attempted a move, rejoining a little further ahead and subsequently receiving a 0.3 second penalty for time gained, which was applied at the end of the race, and due to his buffer over Pedrosa did not affect the results.
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“Overall it‘s been a mixed day for us. Valentino did a fantastic job to take a very important second place. His start was good and played a vital role. He positioned his YZR-M1 exactly right and this allowed him to chase the leading duo. It was inevitable for him to go onto the run-off area after the incident with Zarco, but Vale’s experience shone through again. He was quick to get his head down and at the end we get to celebrate a strong second place, even after the questionable 0.3s penalty. It was very unfortunate that Maverick‘s race ended early because, judging by the pace he displayed all weekend, he would certainly have been able to challenge for the victory. We have checked the data and there‘s nothing strange or different from what he has done since Friday. The front closed without any warning and he could not do anything to save it. It‘s a great pity because he was really confident on the bike, so we take that away from this race weekend as a positive. We‘re certain he will come back strong in Spain in two weeks‘ time.”
Valentino Rossi – P2
“It was a great surprise for me and for the team because we were struggling very much with the new bike, especially during the winter. I think we need more time to understand the setting and the way to ride it, but at the end this bike is very good, especially in the race and with the used tyres. I‘m so happy, because today I wasn‘t so far from the front and it‘s also the best result of my career at this track, so it‘s good. When I saw ’Viñales out‘ I started to think “I‘m on top of the championship standings”. I felt good and I also saw Dani having some problems, especially on the right, so I said “maybe those four points are important” and in fact it was like that. For me the penalty wasn‘t right. The problem is we either do it like this, or we crash together at a very dangerous point. But for me, though accepting Race Direction‘s decision, the mistake was made by Zarco.”
After two wins from two in the first races of the season, Viñales slide out of contention, a soft low-side, put him out of the fight and saw him take zero points for the first time since Argentina 2016, relinquishing his championship lead to teammate Rossi, six-points now the difference between the two men while maintaining a Yamaha 1-2 at the top of the championship table.
Maverick Vinales – DNF
“It was a really strange crash. I did exactly the same as in Warm Up and all weekend, but I crashed. I think we had some issues with the front tyre, but anyway, we know that we are strong and that we have the speed. We can be strong again, so I‘m going to try to forget this crash and come to Jerez even faster, stronger and more consistent than I was here.”
“I’m happy because we made some steps forward today, and overall this weekend was positive. We made some good improvements from the last races, and also in practice we were higher up in the results. Qualifying still wasn’t as good as I’d have liked, but today were able to get a good start and arrive first to turn one. It was the first time I’ve done that in a while, and I led the race for a few laps, which is good. In the end it was difficult to manage the front tyre. I could feel that the right side was finished, so I couldn’t prevent Valentino from passing me. After the crash in Argentina, I wanted to avoid losing the front, so I just tried to finish.”
CR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow followed up his podium finish in Argentina with a fine fourth-placed finish at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin on Sunday. Crutchlow made a great start to the race as he quickly moved through the field into sixth place and assumed fifth when championship leader Maverick Viñales crashed out on lap two. He was then involved in a thrilling battle with Johann Zarco and eventually got the better of the Frenchman on the final lap to claim fourth spot.
Cal Crutchlow – P4
“It was a good race, I felt confident throughout and my team did a fantastic job all weekend. Of course, I’m a little disappointed not to get the podium because we were very close, but I took too long to pass Johann Zarco and after that I lost a little bit of time running off the track. But I felt comfortable during the race and physically strong, and I was still able to push towards the end. I would have liked another podium, but a third in Argentina and fourth here in Texas is good from the last two flyaway races. Hopefully we can carry this momentum into the first European round in Jerez.”
Johann Zarco – P5
“I am really happy with the result but the start of the race was tricky and it was not easy to get into a good position at the first turn. However, I felt great on my Yamaha so I started attacking from the third corner, and I was quickly able to overtake my opponents and get into 5th. I wanted to follow the top group so I pushed to stay close to Valentino and I was able to fight with him, which was fantastic. We came very close at one point because I had a bit more speed than him in the third corner, and maybe it was a bit too tight but fortunately, nothing serious happened and he went on to finish second. I really didn’t want to cause a problem for Vale and I know that I can learn a lot from him so luckily, we both recovered. After this, I continued to do my best and at the end of the sprint, Crutchlow was slightly faster, but nevertheless, 5th is just awesome and I am pleased because the podium was close today.”
Andrea Dovizioso crossed the line at the end of the opening lap in eighth place and then passed Lorenzo and moved up to sixth. The Italian rider administered the race to bring his Desmosedici GP machine home in the same position at the chequered flag. Dovizioso now lies fourth in the overall standings with 30 points.
Andrea Dovizioso – P6
“This was a difficult weekend and also in the race we never had the pace that we had hoped for. Pity, because I expected more from this GP, but the result confirms that unfortunately we still have a lot more work to do in order to resolve certain limits of our bike and to be able to stay up there ahead with our rivals at every circuit.”
Andrea Iannone – P7
“I’m really happy because finally I got some good feelings back with the bike, but at the same time I’m not happy at all about the first part of the race. I lost too much time in the first 5 laps, and then it was hard to recover from that. Afterwards, I found a good pace, but having already lost 6 or 7 seconds, it was too hard to recover any more than I did. There will be a very important test we will do on Monday after Jerez, where we will try some different setup configurations that would be impossible to try on a race weekend. For sure this weekend, and especially this morning, we’ve learnt many things. They will be very useful to ensure we arrive in Spain well prepared.”
Ken Kawauchi – Suzuki Technical Manager
“This has been a very difficult weekend: Alex has a big crash and got injured and also Andrea had many crashes. Finally with Andrea we could finish the race and get some points, which is important. I’m very sorry we couldn’t prepare the perfect bike for him. But he did a very good job also, supporting Alex and getting to the pins. I’m happy with him. The seventh place doesn’t satisfy me, but I consider this as a starting point for us and I believe we can restart from here to become better and better, race after race. I hope Alex will get better soon and come back to the garage. Also, we have room for improvement to perform better in the European circuits, where I hope we will get the chance to go back on the podium again.”
Danilo Petrucci finished strongly in the race, between the 14th and 18th lap managed to close a gap of two-seconds off Folger and Miller, then passing them both three laps from the end. On the following lap, Petrux started to chase Lorenzo and overtook him late in the race to take eigth place at the flag.
Danilo Petrucci – P8
“I am very happy for today’s race. Yesterday we were in trouble as I could not have a good feeling with the front. We have studied the data very much and this job paid as well as the choice of hard the tire at the rear. We’ve made all the right choices. That is why I want to thank the whole team, especially my crew chief Daniele Romagnoli and my electronic engineer Christian Battaglia because they did a great job. It’s a great resul for us”.
Jorge Lorenzo was sixth at the end of lap one and battling with Maverick Vinales before the Spaniard crashed out, Lorenzo was then passed by Dovizioso on the following lap. The Spanish rider kept the same position until lap 18, but was then passed by Iannone and Petrucci towards the end of the race and he finished in ninth place.
Jorge Lorenzo – P9
“All in all, the race went better than I expected, at least regarding my pace over practice and qualifying. For sure we cannot be satisfied with the final position, because our target is certainly much higher, but in feeling and pace we made a small step forward in this race. It all went more or less how I expected until the front tyre began to have some graining and I lost touch with Dovizioso. Without this problem, I think I could have finished the race right behind him but the situation got worse over the last few laps and both Iannone and Petrucci passed me, so I lost out on seventh right at the end.”
Jack Miller fought off an intense late race challenge from German rider Jonas Folger to finish just half-a-second behind three-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo who was ninth. Miller made a strong early race dash from 12th on the grid to be eighth on lap three and spent the remainder of a frustrating 21-lap race stalking Lorenzo, who controlled the gap on the fast straight at the Circuit of The Americas. This result consolidates Miller in 10th place in the points standings.
Jack Miller – P10
“I had good speed from the start of the race but it is just so difficult to overtake, I was losing so much time off the slow corners and it is not easy to make it up in the braking zones. All I could was wait and hope Lorenzo made a mistake and then towards the end of the race I lost some feeling with front. It was another solid result, I got some points with a top ten finish and learnt a lot.”
Jonas Folger – P11
“It was a tough race and I did my best, but I’m a little bit disappointed, to be honest. However, there are always positives and today, we were just 18 seconds back from the top, plus six seconds behind Dovizioso who finished 6th which is good. Having said that, I made some mistakes in the GP, especially when the bike started to get lighter due to the decreasing fuel load. I was not able to adapt as well as I did in the last GP, and that’s when I lost some positions. Now we have to analyse everything and see how we can move forward. We learnt a lot again this weekend but I have to be able to set the bike up better in the practices and be stronger in the fight. I have scored points in all three races so far, and this is pleasing, but once you reach a certain position, your goals get higher and I aim to make a step up. We know what we can do and we realise that 6th could have been ours if we worked more effectively in the practice. Anyway, I will focus now on the next round in Jerez where I am sure that I can finish in a stronger position.”
Scott Redding finished in twelfth position that allows the English rider to confirm himself in the Top 10 on the World Championship points table.
Scott Redding – P12
“It was a very tough race today. We choose to go with the hard tyre but I did not find the feeling. Maybe I should have tried the medium but now it’s too late for regrets. The problem is that I was unable to be competitive from the early laps. I had no traction in corner exit that’s why I had to work hard in braking probably stressing too much the front tire. We have some work to do. We must now focus on Jerez”.
Tito Rabat finished 13th to boost his confidence with a third consecutive finish in the points. Rabat also had to deal with the challenge of Ducati riders and he finished strongly, squeezed between Scott Redding (12th) and Hector Barbera (14th).
Tito Rabat – P13
“I am very happy for this result because today I understood many things by going a little slower at the beginning and then faster towards the end of the race. And in the normal conditions of today’s race I was closer to the front guys and this is good for my confidence. To score points in the opening three races of the season is a very good start and a boost in advance of the next race at home in Jerez.”
Reale Avintia Racing riders left Texas with mixed feelings after the third round of the MotoGP World Championship. Hector Barbera scored two points finishing the race in 14th place, while Loris Baz got no reward after crashing out of lap 9 of the race, when he was battling with the British rider Scott Redding.
Hector Barbera – P14
“It was a strange race, because the result is not good, but I improved my riding style with this bike. It was the first weekend so far this season where we did not touch the set-up, and it was just me who had to change and adapt to the bike. In the last five laps I struggled with arm-pump, because this is a really demanding track and this year even more so due to its bumpy surface. But we have to focus on the positive aspects and this is that we finished the race close to the other Ducatis. I want to thank the team for being patient, and I promise to keep working at the maximum. The next race is Jerez, a circuit I like and where I’m sure that we can do better.”
Loris Baz – DNF
“It was a shame, because although I was not riding at my best, I was able to stay in the group. Then I tried to catch Scott (Redding) and something failed in the gearbox going into a slow hairpin. The bike was like in neutral and I was forced to run off the track. I came back and maybe I pushed too much, because I crashed just two or three corners later, and today I could not save it… We knew that it was important to finish the race and score points, but today it was tough and the bike was not as easy to ride as in Argentina. But I’m sure that we will be back stronger in Jerez.”
It was a bittersweet weekend for Pull&Bear Aspar rider Álvaro Bautista, who started his 125th MotoGP race from nineteenth on the grid after some practice issues with his Ducati. Bautista battled his way up to thirteenth in the race before a crash at the midway stage saw him lose forty seconds, although he was able to continue and pick up a single point in fifteenth.
Álvaro Bautista – P15
“I don’t know why I crashed. I was on the same line and going through the corner in the usual way. It is a shame because it hasn’t been a good weekend for us, but with the pace we found we could have been fighting for a top ten finish, close to the factory guys. Now we need to get our feeling back at Jerez, and see if in front of the home fans there we can be competitive again like we have been in the previous Grands Prix.”
Bautista’s team-mate Karel Abraham has endured a difficult weekend ever since a crash on Friday set back his working programme. The Czech rider has proved he had the pace to be fighting for points today but a crash on the second lap meant that he was unable to do so. The cause of the crash is still unknown, although it could have been caused by a loss of grip on the front tyre.
Karel Abraham – DNF
“It was a fast crash and I hit the tyre wall but luckily I am okay. When I stood up and looked for the bike it was everywhere and nowhere. It must have broken into a million pieces. This weekend was really unlucky for me. This morning we had some things we wanted to try but we had a tyre problem, then we restarted on a used tyre and I only managed to make one lap time. I was worried about the race but I felt quite good at the start, I was with Rabat and I should have stayed in that group, which would have been good after the weekend we have had. Then I came to turn eleven and all of a sudden I was on the ground. We have checked the data and what we can see is that we did just the same as the other laps. We need to analyse the data further.”
The Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team wrapped up a difficult race weekend at the Circuit of the Americas on Sunday. Factory rider Bradley Smith finished 16th while KTM teammate Pol Espargaro retired mid race after experiencing clutch problems. It was the team’s first visit with the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike to the difficult Texan circuit, and represented another stage in their steep learning curve as they tackle their first season in the premier class.
Bradley Smith – P16
“It was a tricky day with tire choice. When the sun came out we were a bit worried about whether the soft tire would really work, and we had done the majority of our work on that tire choice. The hard tire was okay when we had grip but then we had problems when it slowly disappeared. I was a bit nervous when I saw Pol’s bike smoking and after that, I just tried to look after the bike and the tires. I started to push a bit to see if I could stay in front of Bautista but he was stronger than us. In the end I just tried to finish the 21 laps to get some important information for the team. We always knew that this race was going to be a difficult one for us. I’m proud that we were able to have a bike that could do one fast lap, now our objective is to move forward and make one that does 21 laps.”
Pol Espargaro – DNF
“We started to feel this problem with the clutch in the second lap. I was not fast enough in the straights and in some corners the front was shaking quite a lot. Honestly the guys put in a big effort this weekend with the new fairing, and they didn’t get much sleep. We were really unlucky today. I don’t know what we could have done, but maybe it would have been possible to take a point. We will have some new parts to test in Le Mans and after that we race in Jerez, where we have already been with the KTM. I feel something good is coming but we need to be patient.”
Mike Leitner – KTM Team Manager
“This was a typical track where we were for the first time, and we ran out of time to make any really big steps on the bike setting, and to test everything to be competitive. We have to take it like it is because we will face this problem a few more times this year. With Pol we had an issue with the clutch, which caused an oil leak and this is why the engine was smoking. Now we just have to accept it and keep working to make it better.”
You need to search through the various sessions of the Texan weekend between practice, qualifying and the race to “filter” the performance of Aleix Espargaró and his RS-GP from the extraordinary chain of adverse events that clipped the wings of his ambition. Having started from the last spot on the grid for not having participated in qualifying on Saturday, Aleix found his pace after a few laps, catching up to 15th position. His times, improving decisively, even made a top-ten finish seem possible, something that would have been quite an undertaking. Instead, from the seventh lap, problems with the front end first slowed him visibly and then forced him to pit lane.
After changing the tyre and re-joining, without any more hope of a placement, Aleix lapped at a pace even better than the riders who were battling for tenth. This feedback and the times in the Sunday warm-up, the only positive notes on a weekend that was difficult like few others for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, confirm the potential of the Espargaró-Aprilia duo. Now it is time to head for Europe, with two days of testing at Mugello on Wednesday and Thursday. The goal is to pick up from all the positive that had been demonstrated in the first two rounds of the season.
Aleix Espargaro – P17
“From the first laps I had a bad feeling with the front tyre. I kept losing it. I thought maybe it was because of the full tank, but things got worse lap after lap, so much that at a certain point I was no longer riding but just trying not to crash. Making a pit stop is always the last thought for me. It seems like a lack of respect for the work my team has done, but today I had no choice. When I re-joined with a new tyre, I lapped at my own pace without pushing, with the times we had expected. Now I want to forget this weekend quickly. In two days we will be on the track at Mugello to continue working and to be ready for the European races.”
Sam Lowes’ race came to an early end after a crash when, after finding his pace, he had moved in behind Smith just behind the points zone.
“I think that today was the slowest crash of my career. To be honest, it was a strange weekend for us. Even in the race, the harder front tyre was perfect on the left side in terms of feeling, whereas on the right I wasn’t able to ride. The pace was what I had expected. I was able to stay in the group that was battling for points and despite a mistake in the early stages, I had managed to close the gap. Even on a weekend like this one, we were still able to take a few steps forward. My goal is to stay focused and to continue working with my team so that I can get to the point of exploiting the full potential of my RS-GP.”
Romano Albesiano – Aprilia Racing Manager
“Even with the handicap of a start from the last spot on the grid, we had the potential for a top-ten race, but instead Aleix had a problem with the front. After replacing the tyre he found the sensations and the times we expected, the ones from warm-up where he finished in ninth place. Sure, it was a particular track, with bumps and different grip than the previous tracks, which put us to the test, but without everything that happened to us, we were definitely capable of finishing in the top ten. But even here, we learned something and now we are headed to Europe confident because of what we demonstrated until now and even hoping that this whole series of episodes that hindered us here is over.”
Now it’s back east to Europe and the southern Spanish scorcher of Jerez for round four of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship which will play out on the weekend of May 5-7.
MotoGP Race Results
M. MARQUEZ REPSOL HONDA TEAM 43’58.770
V. ROSSI MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP + 3.069
D. PEDROSA REPSOL HONDA TEAM + 5.112
C. CRUTCHLOW LCR HONDA + 7.638
J. ZARCO MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 + 7.957
A. DOVIZIOSO DUCATI TEAM + 14.058
A. IANNONE TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR + 15.491
D. PETRUCCI OCTO PRAMAC RACING + 16.772
J. LORENZO DUCATI TEAM + 17.979
J. MILLER TEAM EG 0,0 MARC VDS + 18.494
J. FOLGER MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 + 18.903
S. REDDING OCTO PRAMAC RACING + 28.735
T. RABAT TEAM EG 0,0 MARC VDS + 30.041
H. BARBERA REALE AVINTIA RACING + 31.364
A. BAUTISTA PULL&BEAR ASPAR TEAM + 1’06.547
B. SMITH RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING + 1’22.090
A. ESPARGARÒ APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI After 2 laps
S. LOWES APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI N.C. (10 laps)
P. ESPARGARÒ RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING N.C. (12 laps)
L. BAZ REALE AVINTIA RACING N.C. (13 laps)
M. VIÑALES MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP N.C. (20 laps)
K. ABRAHAM PULL&BEAR ASPAR TEAM N.C. (20 laps)
Nicolas Goubert – Michelin
“This has been another important weekend for us and again shows the different options of tyres that can be used by the riders. Today we had five of the six specifications used, with the top-three all using different configurations, and this was also repeated throughout the field. The riders reported the track was very bumpy and had a changed a lot from last year, so we were impressed with how they coped and used the tyres to make the best of the unusual conditions. Overall this has been another encouraging weekend and one that we will again take a lot from. We now go to Europe where we will race at Jerez and then have an important test at the same track on the Monday after the race, which will see us doing some back-to-back comparisons between existing tyres, previous prototypes and new versions, all designed to take our performance – and that of the riders – on to the next level.”
2017 MotoGP World Championship Standings after round three at COTA
Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 56
Maverick Viñales (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 50
Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 38
Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 30
Cal Crutchlow (GBR) LCR Honda 29
Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 27
Johann Zarco (FRA) Monster Yamaha Tech3 22
Jonas Folger (GER) Monster Yamaha Tech3 21
Jack Miller (AUS) Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS 21
Scott Redding (GBR) Octo Pramac Racing 21
Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Octo Pramac Racing 17
Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Pull&Bear Aspar Team 14
Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Ducati Team 12
Aleix Espargarò (SPA) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 10
Andrea Iannone (ITA) Team Suzuki Ecstar 9
Loris Baz (FRA) Reale Avintia Racing 9
Tito Rabat (SPA) Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS 8
Alex Rins heads home for Surgery
Spanish rider Alex Rins is travelling home after a fateful weekend at the COTA circuit in Austin, Texas. Rins suffered a crash during the Free Practice 3 last Saturday, could not compete in the Grand Prix of the Americas due to a double fracture of the left arm that had to be treated in the hospital by Doctor Austin Hill, orthopedic traumatologist at the University Medical Center Brackenridge. Rins will land tomorrow afternoon in Barcelona, where he will be operated on throughout the week at the University Hospital Dexeus, in Barcelona, by Dr. Xavier Mir, Head of the Hand Unit and Coordinator of the MotoGP Traumatology Service, when inflammation of the left arm has subsided.
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