Spoiler Alert: 2017 MotoGP results from Austin’s Circuit of the Americas listed below.Can anyone truly stop Marc Marquez at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas? Heading into round three of 18 in Texas, Marquez was the clear favorite. But much pressure was expected from the man who won both opening rounds this season in Qatar and Argentina, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Vinales.
Drama would find Vinales, though. While in fourth with 19 of 21 laps to go, Vinales crashed out on the quick turn 18, ending his perfect season opening.Marquez had much better luck in the Lone Star State. The 23-year-old Spaniard would first battle with Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa for the lead before making a pass stick at turn 7 with 13 to go.From there Marquez was untouchable, and earned his five-straight win from pole at Circuit of the Americas. With his wins at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Marquez continues to have a perfect victory record on American soil, winning every stateside MotoGP since he joined the premier class in 2013—the same year COTA joined the Grand Prix Championship.Joining Marquez on the podium were Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Pedrosa. This was Rossi’s third-straight podium, and the nine-time World Champion now leads the points race.“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,” Marc Marquez says. “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 tire’ because I knew that I would push the medium front tire 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.”When the 21-lap race began, Pedrosa got to turn one first from a fourth-place start, followed by Marquez, Rossi, Ducati Team’s Jorge Lorenzo and Vinales. The Spaniard YZR-M1 pilot Vinales made quick work of Lorenzo, and got into fourth. Next to pass Lorenzo was Yamaha Tech3’s Johann Zarco.Drama came with 19 laps to go, when Vinales crashed out at the quick right-hand turn 18. He walked away unscathed, but ruined the perfect start to his season.With 14 to go, the two factory RC213V prototypes began pulling away from Rossi. Marquez was on the attack, and closed in on Pedrosa. Marquez passed him at turn 11, and Pedrosa immediately responded, taking back the lead on the back straight.Marquez finally passed Pedrosa at Turn 7 a lap later, and began opening up a gap. From there he was untouchable.As Marquez rode alone up front, Rossi placed loads of pressure on Pedrosa. The 37-year-old Italian passed Pedrosa at turn 18, and began pulling away. Rossi would eventually finish 3.069 seconds behind Marquez. Pedrosa took the final podium position, 5.112 seconds behind his teammate.The fight for fourth between Zarco and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow came down to the checkered flag,. Crutchlow would get the best of the rookie Moto2 Champion, claiming fourth by 0.319 of a second ahead of Zarco.Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso claimed the top position for Ducati, finishing seventh just ahead of Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone and Octo Pramac Racing Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci. Rounding out the top 10 were Ducati Team’s Jorge Lorenzo and Marc VDS Racing Honda’s Jack Miller.There was some trouble for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini when Sam Lowes crashed with 10 laps to go. Teammate Aleix Espargaro had some technical issues, but was able to finished the race in 17th—dead last.Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Bradley Smith finished 16th, just outside the points. His teammate Pol Espargaro was forced to DNF due to technical issues with seven laps to go.Also suffering DNFs were Reale Avintia Racing Ducati’s Loris Baz and Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati’s Karel Abraham.With his second-place finish, Rossi now has 56 points, six ahead of Vinales. Marquez is in third, 18 behind Rossi and eight ahead of Dovizioso.The 2017 MotoGP Championship heads to Jerez in two weeks for the first of nine rounds on European soil.Photos by Ara Ashjian
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.