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MotoGP Austin Round Up - Dominant Marquez, Brilliant Ducati and Yamaha's Tyre Issues

Snapshot: "That mythical dry race win is closer to Ducati more than ever before, and the combined might of Honda and Yamaha can now feel Ducati sniffing for their blood on every outing, the GP15 is a real deal and the resurgence of Ducati almost complete."

Even before anyone sat foot on the COTA, Austin circuit after the Qatar race, there was one question that kept running through everyone's mind, "Can anyone beat Marc Marquez at COTA?". Such has been the dominance of the 2 time World Champion that, every time the MotoGP circus reaches USA, talks start about who will come second, for Marquez is yet to come anywhere but 1st in any US race since he joined premier class back in 2013. Everyone knew, stopping Marquez to keep his 100% record at COTA will be a steep task, and come raceday, Marquez ended up proving why he is the 'King of US MotoGP'.

The COTA round was drama packed both in regards of racing as well as stuff that was going around the track too, from a stray dog running on the track during free practise on Friday, then to delay in start of proceedings on Friday due to a lack in the number of Race Marshals. All this added to the already high expectations of a big race after the results of the Qatar round, and the drama didn't leave the track till the start of the main race on Sunday, when an uncharacteristic and a strange water spillage across the Turn 3 just under the bridge at COTA delayed the race start by 37 minutes, as the marshals tried hard to make sure the Turn 3 was safe and dry for the race, the Sun began to heat up the day and whatever fears of a rain obstructing the rains were vaporised. 

The race start was a thrilling event, mostly caused by the combined effects of Ducati's ferocious straight line power and Marquez's yet to be perfected race starts, something the 22 year Spaniard is desperate to change. Andrea Dovizioso took charge of the proceedings when the lights went out and was followed by a close group seeing Marquez and Dovi separated by a 0.5 second gap soon. However, by the time lap 5 arrived, Marquez was well in control of his bike and revved past Dovi easily to clinch the lead in the race. From then onwards, Marquez kept pulling further and further and soon enough he was in a race of his own, racking in miles after miles with no competition of any sort, this was both a worrying sign for his rivals, for Marquez was back to his best after the Qatar debacle, and secondly, it was a show of sublime riding talent that the rider number 93 is so very gifted with. Seeing Marquez do the things he can do on his Honda RCV213V sometimes reaches to a level of disbelief, jsut how can a person ride which is probably the most powerful motorcycle on the planet like the way Marquez does, is a treat.


However, the race of the day came from the duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi who raced their Ducati GP15 and Yamaha YZF-M1 neck to neck in a thrilling encounter which saw both the riders swapping positions frequently. The intense race to win the 2nd position of the Podium saw both the riders go their own as well as their machines limits, an spectacularly close call came in lap 12 when Andrea Dovizioso almost collided with Rossi's M1 as he tried to overtake the number 46 after the long straight. It was some pretty nifty manoeuvres from Dovi that saw him save a potential popular crash within a margins of a breadth of a hair. 

However, Rossi could not stay ahead of the Desmo Dovi charge and all his incredible efforts went in vain when Andrea Dovizioso's GP15 Ducati's phenomenon power delivery made sure, that Ducati will end up again on the podium with another 2nd spot. That mythical dry race win is closer to Ducati more than ever before, and the combined might of Honda and Yamaha can now feel Ducati sniffing for their blood on every outing, the GP15 is a real deal and the resurgence of Ducati almost complete. After the race, Rossi talked about how, his M1 had for some reason destroyed the front tyre, a strange thing, as Valentino was among the very few alongwith Marquez who had opted for the hard front tyre unlike others who had gone for the medium front.

The race for Jorge Lorenzo was almost a forgettable effort, as the whole weekend just didn't work out for the number 99 Spaniard, first he unfortunately was suffering from a case of Bronchitis, and then, there was a wet free practise, it was only on Saturday, that we could see glimpse of the Lorenzo we have come to know all these years, as the antibiotics did their job, Lorenzo started showing better pace. However, after getting nowhere near to the leading trio and getting overtaken by Iannone it seemed that Austin will bring some sad result for the two time World Champion, but a late resurgence saw, Lorenzo overtaking Iannone as 3 laps remained, seeing him finish in a rather lonely 4th. After the race Lorenzo said, " We finished the race in the best way possible given the circumstances. I wasn‘t fit and the bike also needed some extra performance on some areas of the track, especially on the straight I lost a lot.”

Behind Lorenzo Iannone came in 5th, Iannone had a good ride on his GP15 which saw him posting fastest race lap times on more than one occasion as he pierced through the field utilizing his Ducati's incredible power. Bradley Smith achieved his target of being the best satellite bike at COTA and came in at 6th after a ride that saw him fighting closely with the leading trio for most of the first half of the race. A bad start saw Cal Crutchlow come in at a rather disappointing 7th place, he was followed by Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales, in 8th and 9th positions respectively. The two factory Suzuki riders bringing in a great result for Suzuki by coming inside the top 10, however, Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR is in a desperate need of power boost as it was evident how much it was losing in the front straight, if you look at the top speeds achieved throughout the weekend, the Suzuki clearly looses more than 15kmph on the straight, and that is a lot. 

Danilo Petrucci completed the top ten with his Pramac Ducati, ahead of the Repsol Honda of Hiroshi Aoyama who was filling in for the Injured Dani Pedrosa and the leading Open class bike of Hector Barbera on the Avintia Ducati. Nicky Hayden won the battle of the Open Honda’s in front of his home crowd, claiming 13th place in his 200th MotoGP race after an exciting fight with the CWM LCR RC213V-RS of Jack Miller (14th), and Alvaro Bautista (15th) on the Factory Aprilia Racing Team Gresini.

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