It’s closer than ever as the flag falls at the end of the Americas GP, with Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez taking the win and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso taking the Championship lead.
The Americas GP also made it back-to-back podium finishes for Suzuki, with Andrea Iannone putting in an impressive push from the front row to take third and his first rostrum finish of the season – and first rostrum with the Hamamatsu factory.
It was also Iannone who got the holeshot from second on the grid, but Marquez also got a flyer from Row 2 – slotting into second and on the chase behind the ‘Maniac’. Making his move soon after and taking the lead, #93 started to pull a gap – but Iannone wasn’t done, and gave it everything for a late dive up the inside of the reigning champion. Running a bit wide on the exit, Marquez took him back – then quickly started to build a gap.
From there on out, the spectacular ballet of man and machine once more ruled the rodeo in Texas – with the victory making it ten consecutive premier class wins for Marquez on US soil.
Marquez said: “This weekend I really gave it my all. Today I was totally focused, as I wanted to remain perfect here at Austin. I don’t think that ever in my career have I had such a race, pushing so hard from the first lap.
“Today I felt that this was the right way and was able to do it, in part because my bike’s setup helped me a lot, so thanks to everyone in my garage as they’ve worked really well and hard. Yesterday I was a bit ill, and even today I didn’t feel I had perfect energy, but it turned out to be a good race anyway – a lonely one, but sometimes it goes like that.
“Last night when I was going to sleep, I thought about the strategy, and today I followed it. Even in the warm-up, I tried to simulate the first laps of the race, going out on new tyres and with a full tank. That was in the plan. I told the team that I wanted to try to lead the race from the beginning and pull a gap. So in the first three or four laps, I pushed a bit more than usual, and then I managed the advantage.
“Today I had special motivation. There was a lot of pressure, but I like the pressure, as it helps to keep focused. I felt a special feeling on the last lap, when I passed in front of Nicky’s flag. So, I’m happy with the result and for recovering ground in the Championship, but now we go back to Europe, where we must be consistent, because look who’s leading the standings: Dovi, the most consistent rider! The feeling with my bike is very good, and the same has been true in Qatar and Argentina, so we’ll try and continue this way.”
Behind, however, it was getting pretty tight. Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi was pressuring teammate Viñales for third as Iannone held firm in second. But lap-by-lap, Viñales was able to ease away and stake his claim on P2 – closing in on Iannone before a well-judged pass into Turn 1 saw the Spaniard able to get through and then pull away. Keeping it calm, he took his first podium of the season in second, and Iannone did the same in third.
Rossi came home fourth, with Dovizioso taking fifth after a particularly difficult weekend. Well-rewarded for a solid race, the 2017 Runner Up is now the leader of the pack once again after his controlled performance, including a late race pass on Tech 3’s Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
Zarco was top Independent Team rider in P6, with former championship leader Cal Crutchlow sliding out at the final corner on his LCR Honda when attacking the Frenchman earlier in the race. Suzuki’s Alex also then suffered a tumble soon after and retired.
Meanwhile, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa followed up two stunning showings on Friday and Saturday to come home in a superhuman P7. Back on track and racing just over a week after surgery on his broken wrist sustained in the Argentina GP, the ‘Little Samurai’ rode a heroic push through the pain barrier around the punishing, technical challenge of the Circuit of the Americas in a performance worthy of the history books, taking home nine points ahead of the Championship’s return to one of his best venues: Jerez.
Special mention must also go to a resurgent Tito Rabat – the Spaniard guided his with Tito Rabat Avintia Racing customer Ducati to finish ahead of Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro.
Jorge Lorenzo suffered another miserable race in 11th, fuelling more rumours that his lacklustre performances on the factory Ducati will see him lose his ride.
Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci took P12, ahead of some impressive points for Pol Espargaro and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in P13. LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami was top rookie in P14, ahead of Alvaro Bautista on the Angel Nieto Team Ducati.