Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) secured Suzuki’s first MotoGP win since the 2016 British GP after pipping Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to an extraordinary win at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, which saw King of COTA Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) crash out of the lead.
As the lights went out it was Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) who got the better launch out of the front three on the grid, with Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) also getting off the line well as the duo pulled alongside Marquez up the hill, but it was the pole man who was bravest on the brakes to grab the holeshot. Rossi and Crutchlow slotted into second and third as the duo tried to keep tabs on the leader, with Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) making a stellar start from P13 to move up to P6 on the opening lap.
Marquez didn’t get away from the clutches of Rossi straight away in the opening couple of laps, but the reigning World Champion then started to pull the pin and by lap five, the gap was 1.4 seconds. It was quickly becoming a battle for second and in it was Rossi and Crutchlow, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Rins right in the hunt.
Crutchlow’s race then came to a premature end as he crashed out of contention at Turn 11 on Lap 6, which started a chain reaction of Texas hauntings for Honda. With a three second lead on Lap 9, Marquez was clear of the rest and the magnificent seven was well in sight. But then the unthinkable happened. The King of COTA crashed, Turn 12 the place as the number 93 tucked the front and it was race over, his RC213V didn’t want to restart and his crown was lost. Then, Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) was out. Another chain issue for the five-time World Champion?
But who would Marquez’ crown be going to? Rins had got past Miller for third and it was soon Rossi vs Rins for the Americas GP win. 10 to go, Rossi was cracking the whip at the front with Rins less than half a second back, their gap to Miller was over two seconds as the Australian found himself in a lonely third.
It was all about the duo at the front though. Rossi going for premier class win number 90, Rins going for that illustrious first. With four laps to go there was still nothing between them but then, at Turn 7, Rins made his move. A clean and crisp move up the inside of ‘The Doctor’. The latter then attempted to bite straight back at Turn 12, but he was in too hot and ran wide. This left Rins with a 0.7 advantage with three to go and then with two to go, with the gap still hovering at half a second, Rossi ran in deep at Turn 11. Race over? Not quite.
Rins was holding his nerve and that gap between the 42 and 46 was 0.7, but Rossi wasn’t done. The 40-year-old edged 0.1 closer to the Suzuki in each of the first two sectors and suddenly the gap was down to 0.3 – but it wasn’t enough. Rins trumped Rossi in America and came home to take his first MotoGP victory and in doing so, became the first rider to win at the Circuit of the Americas in all the classes. Rossi settled for a second consecutive second of the season to claim his 198th premier class podium as he leaves COTA second in the Championship, three behind Dovi with Rins a further two back in third.
7.9 seconds back, Miller held off some late pressure from a fellow GP19 to take his first Ducati podium. Elation for the Australian, with Dovizioso recovering superbly to earn P4 in Texas – the Championship lead is his heading into Europe. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) would come across the line in fifth to pick up his best premier class result, he beat compatriot Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) – a third P6 in a row for the Italian. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was another rider to grab his best MotoGP result in seventh, another strong ride for the leading rookie, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) taking his and KTM’s best result of the season in 8th. The Spaniard held off reigning Moto2™ World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) by 0.8 as the Italian also picked up his best premier class result.
10th went the way of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), the leading Honda in Austin, with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) 11th. Both he and compatriot Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) were handed ride through penalties after jump starts, with Viñales taking the long lap penalty at least once before coming through pitlane. Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Reale Avintia Racing’s Tito Rabat completed the points.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was an early faller at Turn 14 – rider ok.
Wow. Who was expecting that? The King of COTA has been dethroned as the title race is blown wide open. Jerez and Round 4 is next, with the top four in the Championship split by nine points. This is MotoGP.
Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) put in an outstanding Texas ride to take Moto2™ victory at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, the Swiss rider leading a Dynavolt Intact GP 1-2 as Marcel Schrötter crossed the line second as Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) completed the podium.
There was drama right from the off and it was disaster for home hero Joe Roberts (American Racing KTM). The American and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) got tangled together heading up the hill into Turn 1, the pair then slamming into the helpless Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) as the trio crashed out in a scary looking incident. Thankfully all riders were ok and, in the meantime, Schrötter had got the perfect launch from pole but ran it wide into Turn 1, allowing Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and teammate Lüthi to slip through.
The Lap 1 drama wasn’t done there though. Double race winner and Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) wouldn’t make it past Turn 10 after hitting the back of Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), the reigning Moto3™ World Champion getting out of shape on the exit of Turn 9 with Baldassarri unable to avoid contact.
With the Championship leader out, it was a great opportunity for the likes of Marquez, Lüthi and Schrötter to reel in some points on the Italian – and it was this exact trio who took a stranglehold on the race, with Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Navarro just over two seconds back in fourth and fifth.
Lüthi and Marquez were nibbling at each other for several laps before the Swiss rider made a move stick at Turn 11 on Lap 8, this coming half a lap after the leaders made slight contact at Turn 1. Lüthi then put the hammer down and a lap later his lead over Marquez was stretched out to a full second, his teammate Schrötter 1.7 back. The men in second and third then came into contact on Lap 11 on the exit of Turn 11, both lucky to stay on, with Schrötter eventually getting the better of Marquez by the end of the lap. But the gap to Lüthi now sat at over two seconds, with fourth place Navarro now just 1.3 off Marquez.
With six laps remaining, Lüthi’s lead was up to 2.5 seconds over his teammate, with the German rider and Marquez slipping back into the clutches of the hard-charging Speed Up machine of Navarro – the battle for second really hotting up, with Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) less than a second back from the trio in fifth.
Marquez then started to suffer, seemingly with tyre issues, which allowed Navarro to eventually move up to third with himself, Marquez and Marini all locking horns. However, replacement rider Mattia Pasini (FlexBox HP 40) – an impressive performer throughout the weekend – was closing in on the podium scrap, and the Italian would get the better of both Marquez and Marini with two laps to go.
Meanwhile, Lüthi would cruise around the last lap to earn his first Grand Prix win since the 2017 San Marino GP in stunning style, with Schrötter making it a Dynavolt Intact GP 1-2 finish in Texas. Navarro held on for his maiden Moto2™ podium – his first since Aragon 2016 in the Moto3™ class – with Pasini producing a phenomenal effort to come home fourth on his first ride with a Triumph Moto2™ engine. Marquez held on for fifth, with Marini fending off Lowes on the last lap as the Kalex duo took the chequered flag in P6 and P7 respectively.
Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) wasn’t far off that particular scrap in P8, a great top ten finish for the veteran Italian, with compatriot Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) taking top rookie honours in P9 – his third consecutive ninth place finish. Fellow Italtrans Racing Team rider Andrea Locatelli completed the top ten, he led Argentina GP rostrum finisher Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) in P11 as his teammate Tetsuta Nagashima, Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP), Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) and Martin completed the points – Aegerter picking up MV’s first points on their return to GP racing.
Brad Binder’s (Red Bull KTM Ajo) title aspirations took a dent after the South African pulled in at the end of Lap 2 with a clutch problem. Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) crashed out of Turn 1 while on course for his first Moto2™ points, with Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) crashed late on at Turn 12.
After a Moto2 Texas rodeo, Baldassarri’s rivals have closed the gap the Championship. The Italian’s lead is now just three points over Schrötter, with Lüthi a further two behind his teammate. We now head to Jerez to start our 2019 European tour, what’s in store in southern Spain for the intermediate class?
Sterilgarda Max Racing Team’s Aron Canet conquered COTA after breaking clear on the final lap in Austin to take his first victory of the Moto3™ World Championship at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas and as a result, move into the joint lead of the World Championship.
The eventual race winner had to come through from the second row of the grid but it was the reigning Junior World Champion Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) who took the holeshot to lead a Grand Prix for the first time in his career.
The young Spaniard’s lead didn’t last long though, with Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and then Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) sneaking through on the opening lap. CIP Green Power’s Darryn Binder was also in the podium hunt but two huge moments, the second at Turn 6, saw him drop backwards.
The South African’s near misses on lap 6 held up the pack behind and it allowed SIC58 Squarda Corse’s Tatsuki Suzuki, who hit the front a lap prior, to escape at the front. The Japanese rider, chasing a debut win, had three quarters of a second advantage over Canet, who himself had quietly moved through to second.
Eventually, with six laps now remaining and Suzuki still out front, Canet’s comfort buffer over third place was reduced to nothing thanks to Bester Capital Dubai’s Andrea Migno helping Rodrigo to catch the KTM rider in second.
Migno wasted no time in making a move, diving under the inside of Canet at Turn 19 to take second and then setting his sights on Suzuki at the front of the race. As they crossed the line, with five laps left, he was 0.772 seconds behind Suzuki and applying some serious pressure. Then, Suzuki asked too much from the front end of his Honda as he flicked it right into Turn 7 and crashed out of the lead.
Migno had the lead but his teammate Jaume Masia, who had come through from 17th in the early laps, set his best lap of the race to get onto the rear of Rodrigo in third place and get in the hunt for a podium. Two to go and Canet made his move for the win, taking the lead into Turn 1 before Rodrigo then followed suit, taking third at the same corner. The Argentine hit second moments later at Turn 11 as Migno slipped backwards.
As we entered the last lap, Canet pulled the pin at the front by setting the fastest first sector of the race to buy himself some breathing space. The duel for second and third kicked into life down the back straight with Rodrigo, Migno, Masia and Antonelli all scrapping it out before the Argentina race winner Masia emerged at the front and held on to take second, behind Canet who took the chequered flag 0.9 seconds clear of anyone else.
The Spanish duo now share a lead at the top of the Moto3™ World Championship on 45 points after Honda Team Asia’s Kaito Toba, who sat at the top of the standings before the race, crashed out, unhurt, at Turn 18.
It was double success for the Bester Capital Dubai squad after Migno held off a late lunge from Rodrigo to clinch the final podium spot, with pole man Niccolo Antonelli having to settle for fifth despite being a tenth behind second.
VNE Snipers’ Tony Arbolino came across the line in sixth to salvage some points for his team after teammate Romano Fenati crashed out at Turn 18 mid-race, taking Redox PruestelGP’s Jakub Kornfeil with him. Early race leader Fernandez finished seventh after getting the better of Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) on the last lap.
Rounding out the top ten were the Sky Racing Team VR46 duo of Celestino Vietti and Dennis Foggia. Compatriot Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) had a frustrating afternoon finishing 13th, but the three points he collected were enough to see him hold third place in the standings as we head to Europe and Jerez in three weeks’ time.