Riders To Watch – Six Crucial Rides at MotoGP in Texas

Austin MotoGP Qualifying Results | Marquez Earns 4th Straight Pole
Honda’s Marc Marquez

If you’re going to Circuit of the Americas to watch the MotoGP race with some friends, or you are tuning in your television to watch it live on beIN Sports (coverage starts at 11:55am, ET), here’s a quick-start guide to the top 6 riders to watch at the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas. Also, we have a few tidbits here to help you feel like a longtime fan if you’re with some MotoGP fanatics.

1. Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Márquez – #93. Now in his third year in MotoGP, Márquez has never lost a race in America. Márquez is on the pole at the Circuit of the Americas and this is the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas. Unless the track is wet on Sunday afternoon, it’s a risky bet to put your money down on Márquez finishing off the top spot on the podium. Is he unbeatable on American soil? We shall find out.

2. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo – #99. The three-time and reigning MotoGP champion crashed out last week in the mixed conditions at Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina. That means Lorenzo is out of the top 3 in the MotoGP standings after winning the first round at Losail International Circuit in Qatar. Lorenzo is now 14 points back of Márquez, and also trails Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo is always a potential winner, though he’ll likely be satisfied with 2nd place, and ready to pick up the pieces if something goes wrong for Márquez.

Austin MotoGP FP1 | Yamaha's Valentino Rossi
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi

3. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi – #46. The Doctor is 2nd in the standings, just eight points behind his arch nemesis Márquez. Still, like Lorenzo, Rossi knows that COTA is Márquez’ house and that throwing caution to the wind to beat #93 is a fool’s errand. If it is raining, however, all bets are off, as Rossi does quite well when it’s wet. His front row spot on the grid with Lorenzo and Márquez gives the seven-time MotoGP Champion as good a shot as he’s going to get.

4. Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone – #29. With a nickname of “The Maniac Joe”, it may not surprise you to find out that Iannone has crashed out of the last four MotoGP races he has entered, dating back to last year in Malaysia. He went a bit too far last week in Argentina, when Iannone took out teammate Andrea Dovizioso in the final set of turns, costing Ducati two podium finishes. Iannone will be looking for redemption, and the checkered flag, at COTA. It will be fascinating to see how he balances the two as he continues to search for his first MotoGP victory.

5. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales – #25. One of the most promising young riders in MotoGP, Viñales’ goal is to finish each race in to top 6, and grab some podiums. He qualified 5th, so he is sitting in the middle of the second row, poised to make a strong podium run. While running in 3rd place, Viñales crashed out late in Argentina when he hit a wet patch, so a podium is so close that he can taste it. Watch for him to push hard at COTA.

6. LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow – #35. Like Iannone, Crutchlow has not finished a MotoGP race in 2016. Although Iannone threw away a sure podium in Argentina, Crutchlow went down early and claimed he would have been on the podium at the end of the race. The cantankerous Crutchlow’s second year on the LCR Honda has not gone well, and he’ll have to balance his desire to land on the podium with the desperate need to make it to the checkered flag.

Exclusive MotoGP photography by Ara Ashjian.