New Sheriff in town: Rins fights off Rossi for first win as Marquez suffers shock crash at COTA

2019-04-15 08:50
The king falls, the ‘Doctor’ gets out-duelled and the young gun makes some history

Monday, 15 April 2019
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is now a MotoGP™ race winner after an incredible performance under pressure at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, able to escape the clutches of nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to secure victory by just under half a second. After a crash out the lead for six-in-a-row COTA winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), the race was on for a new Sheriff to take the reins in Texas and it all came down to a duel between Rins and Rossi but the young gun held firm. Another did the same for third, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) taking his first podium in dry conditions as he came home as top Independent Team rider as well as top Ducati.

Marquez took the holeshot from pole and immediately set about trying to pull away, but Rossi was in hot pursuit with a small gap back to Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol). Miller and Rins made for pretty close company too, but the initial big mover was a stunning start for Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) as he gained seven places from a P13 grid position. Then there was the first bout of drama as Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) were both given ride through penalties for jump starts – and Crutchlow then crashed out. That left Rossi with a bit of a gap in second, but Miller and Rins were on the chase.

Suddenly, however, that fight for second became the fight for the win as there was a number 93 Repsol Honda on the floor. The reigning Champion and only man to have previously won in Texas slid out at Turn 12, tried to get back in the race but was ultimately unable to...leaving Rossi in the lead and Rins on the chase.

The ‘Doctor’ held firm as the laps ticked on, but it seemed the Suzuki behind had something in his pocket. Closing in and closing in, with four laps to go Rins finally chose his moment and made his move – getting past well but Rossi quick to try and fight back to no avail. Then, again, the number 46 made a lunge for it on the next lap but this time headed well wide, that seeing Rins able to pull out a bit more breathing space as he settled back into the lead.

As it transpired, another move wouldn’t come but the ‘Doctor’ threw everything at it. Cutting the gap on the final lap there were bitten fingernails as the Jaws music echoed around the track and Rossi closed in, but Rins remained steadfast. With just enough margin in the final sector it all came down to holding his nerve and that he did, crossing the line just under half a second clear – becoming the first man to win in Moto3™, Moto2™ and MotoGP™ at the Circuit of the Americas where, incidentally, he took his first ever Grand Prix win in 2013.

Rossi’s hard-pushed second place makes it twice in a row on the podium for him, though, and Miller’s visit to parc ferme is his first since his stunning debut premier class win at Assen in 2016. That’s also a key number for another two stats: it’s Suzuki’s first win since Silverstone 2016 and Rins made it the first time we’ve had a first time winner since that same season.

Behind that fight for the podium Dovizioso made good on his stellar start to limit some damage and take fourth, making the Qatar winner the new Championship leader. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), who took on the number 04 initially, crossed the line in fifth for his best ever MotoGP™ result, ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati). Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was top rookie once again as he took his best yet of a P7 – improving one position on Argentina – and he’s now well ahead in the fight for Rookie of the Year. Eighth place went to Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) from his best ever KTM qualifying in P5, with Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) taking his best result in MotoGP™ so far in P9. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) rounded out the top ten as the sole finisher for Honda after a mechanical problem for Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team).

Viñales fought back to P11 after his ride through penalty, ahead of Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing).

That’s a wrap from COTA for 2019. Some history made and a shake up in the Championship sees us heading to Jerez with Dovi in the lead – and Rossi hot on his heels. Rins is now third and Marquez drops to fourth after his crash, but the four are all within nine points as Europe beckons so tune in for Jerez in three weeks for an all-time classic carnival in Spain.
Race results
1 - Alex Rins (SPA) 41'45.499
2 - Valentino Rossi (ITA) +0.462
3 - Jack Miller (AUS) +8.454
Lüthi sublime in Austin to get back on the top step
Dynavolt Intact GP rider followed home by his teammate

Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) was back on the top step of the podium in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, with the veteran Swiss rider sublime and pulling away from the field to stamp some serious authority on the race. It's his first win since Misano 2017 and he was joined on the podium by teammate Marcel Schrötter, with Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) in third to take his first podium in the intermediate class.

It was a dramatic start to Moto2™ in the Americas as Schrötter took the holeshot but went wide, allowing Alex Marquez and Tom Lüthi through into the lead. Drama hit straight away as Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up), Joe Roberts (American Team KTM) and soon after Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) came together with Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – and the points leader crashed out. Back at the front it was then Marquez leading Lüthi, but as the race settled into a rhythm and the Swiss rider bode his time, a move was planned to perfection.

With 11 laps to go Lüthi struck and made it past, and the intermediate class veteran immediately set about making a gap. That left teammate Schrötter the man trying to catch Marquez, and the German put in the leg work to pull back the gap to the Spaniard and then strike. With 8 laps to go Schrötter got ahead, but the gap to Lüthi was already two and a half seconds…

Meanwhile, the gap back from Marquez to Navarro was diminishing and with Schrötter unable to break away, it was a trio by five laps to go – but Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) was homing in. Navarro attacked with four to go and couldn’t make it stick, and then tried again but ran well wide, dropping behind the Italian. But he fought back past the Italian and was ready to attack again on the next lap when Marquez headed wide, Marini got involved as well and it became a frantic three-way battle – allowing Mattia Pasini (Flexbox HP 40) to catch them and Navarro to escape. Pasini was then able to do the same, leaving Marquez vs Marini fighting it out the fifth – and Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) another to gain from a squabble and the Brit edged closer.

At the front though, it was a serene scene for Lüthi as he crossed the line well clear of the field for his first win since Misano 2017, with teammate Schrötter taking second from pole – and cutting the gap to Baldassarri at the top of the Championship. Navarro’s great escape gave him an impressive first podium in the intermediate class, with Pasini taking fourth on his ride as an injury replacement – and proving he’s as fast as ever.

Marquez was forced to settle for fifth, ahead of Marini and Lowes, who took sixth and seventh respectively. Veteran Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) took eighth just ahead of top rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), with the ‘Bestia’ just edging teammate Andrea Locatelli, who completed the top ten.

Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) got the better of teammate Tetsuta Nagashima for 11th, with Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) taking P13. On his 200th start, Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) scored the first points for the new MV Agusta chassis in P14, with rookie Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completing the points scorers.

His teammate Brad Binder retired with a mechanical problem and Iker Lecuona (American Team KTM) sadly joined the list of crashers to make it a tough home round for the American Team.

Baldassarri was invincible ahead of Texas, but Schrötter has closed in and Lüthi is on the comeback. What will Jerez bring? Find out in three weeks as we return to race in Europe.
Race results
1 - Tom Lüthi (SWI) 39'11.508
2 - Marcel Schrötter (GER) +2.532
3 - Jorge Navarro (SPA) +3.836
Canet conquers COTA in classic Moto3™ encounter
Spaniard takes his first win since 2017 as Texas serves up a classic tussle

Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) took victory in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in style, emerging victorious from a last lap scrap to take his first win since Silverstone 2017 ahead of Bester Capital Dubai duo Jaume Masia and Andrea Migno. The rostrum sees Masia take the lead in the Championship despite being equal on points with Canet, and for Migno it saw him return to the podium for the first time since Le Mans last year.

Under bright and sunny skies in Texas, rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) took the holeshot from the middle of the front row, but it didn’t take long for Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) to strike back and take over. Then began the classic freight train shuffle – with a few moments thrown in for good measure – before Tatsuki Suzuki was able to emerge free of the crowd and break away.

The contest for who would try and chase him down was won by Aron Canet, as the Spaniard was able to break away from the big group and set off after the Japanese rider. It seemed he was pulling the distance back, but it remained sizeable as Andrea Migno, Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) tried to get in the mix.

A lap later Migno was on the tail of Canet, Rodrigo and Lopez got caught up in a fight, and Suzuki was still clear at the head of the race. Antonelli was leading a group of five fighting to complete the top five, but drama then struck twice in fairly swift succession.

First, two-time COTA winner Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) slid out and Jakub Kornfeil (Redox Prüstel GP) got caught up in it, sadly breaking his collarbone, before a couple of laps later there was heartbreak for Suzuki. At Turn 7 and still with a sizeable lead, the Japanese rider suddenly slid out of contention – leaving Migno just ahead of Canet as the duel for the win. There would be more than one twist left in the tale, however.

As the laps ticked on they began to all bunch together again and it became a five-rider fight to decide the win and podium with Canet in the lead. Despite his advantage coming on to the final lap though, it all came down to the end of the back straight, with the Spaniard initially swamped as the slipstream effect enabled those behind to chase him down – before he hit straight back on the brakes. Emerging from there in the lead, Canet never looked back as the squabble behind saw the Sterilgarda Max Racing Team machine able to pull clear of the chaos.

Migno and Rodrigo were joined by Masia and Antonelli in that fight for the podium, with the two Bester Capital Dubai machines certainly not giving each other any quarter. Coming in to the final corner though it was Masia who had managed to muscle his way through to second, and that stayed secure as a wobble for Migno just behind made his mission one of hanging on to the podium and defending it. The Italian ultimately gathered it together, just able to stay ahead of Rodrigo, and took completed his impressive ride through from P13 on the grid.

Rodrigo was forced to settle for fourth, ahead of a solid top five for polesitter Antonelli. Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) took P6 ahead of an impressive result for top rookie Fernandez, who was P7 at the flag. Eighth went to Alonso Lopez as the Spaniard faded slightly towards the end, with second rookie Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) just beating teammate Dennis Foggia at COTA and the duo completing the top ten.

Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia), Leopard Racing duo Marcos Ramirez and Lorenzo Dalla Porta, John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and early frontrunner Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power) completed the points scorers.

Masia now leads the Championship but he’s equal on points with Canet after COTA. Next time out we race on home turf for both at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Ni

Source: Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup

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