Although Thar’s a new Sheriff in Austin, whilst the
King of COTA nearly lost His Crown during MotoGP’s 500th race…
Heading into this year’s USGP at the Circuit Of
The Americas, nee COTA on it’s traditional Spring weekend Slot for the first
time in three Gory years! There had been an unprecedented nine different riders
atop the Podium, including three different winners, with two scoring their
maiden MotoGP victory. As would this trend continue at Austin?
Instead, we saw the season’s first repeat
winner and just one new rider to the podium, giving us 10 of 12 different
riders atop the podium’s first four races.
This has to be the story of the year so far. As
the much overlooked Italian marque and it’s longtime rider Aleix Espargaro not
only scored his Debutante MotoGP Pole in Argentina, but also claimed His and aprilia’s
maiden MotoGP victory upon Aleix’s 200th MotoGP Start!
But the Spaniard didn’t make it easy upon himself,
albeit later commenting how the track temperature was affecting his riding style.
But Aleix persevered and finally made
his pass upon Jorge Martin stick for good wit five laps remaining for the victory!
Aprilia’s lineup stays unchanged with the
addition of Maverick Vinales late last year after his Yamaha Styrian GP
Meltdown. As Vinales stuck his Aprilia RS GP fifth upon the Argentina grid
before settling for a disappointing seventh, as Vinales so far seems outclassed
by Aleix, albeit Maverick’s six years younger, so time should be on his side
for the steadily improving Minnowesqe Italian marque.
COTA saw the typical reversal of fortunes, as
the Aprilia’s struggled mightily in Qualie’, with Aleix and Maverick P13-14
respectively. As Vinales got Team leader Espargaro at races end, finishing 10th,
with Aleix one place behind, and losing his Points lead and dropping to third
Overall, now 11 markers back.
The Italian marque sees it’s ranks bolstered by
the addition of one additional team, with two new Satellite Squads on it’s
rolls, giving Ducati the most Bikes on the Grid with eight. While the Factory and
Pramac Teams lineups remain unchanged, Gresini Racing joins the Ducati fold and
The Doctor’s, nee Valentino Rossi’s VR46 concern fills out the Ducati entries.
Have to say that the Factory riders have struggled
so far entering the Lone Star state. With Francesco Pecco’ Bagnaia taking out
an unsuspecting Jorge Martin in Qatar, whilst Jack Thriller’ Miller was
penalized three places in Argentina for slowing a competitor, finishing where
He started in 14th.
Bagnaia rebounded with a fifth place finish in
Argentina, but you’d expect Miller 11th Overall and Bagnaia 14th
Overall to be much Higher in the standings!
Miller put his Nightmare weekend behind him,
Qualifying second at COTA and then promptly leading the race’s first 15 laps before
ultimately claiming his season’s first podium finish in third, whilst Bagnaia
claimed his second P5 finish to date.
Pramac Racing’s Johann Zarco had two Top 5
Finishes following the Argentina round, with a fifth at Qatar and a Hard fought third at Indonesia, pipping
Miller for the podium’s final step. While teammate Martin finally got on the “Board”
with a second place finish in Argentina after two retirements, as Zarco and
Martin were eighth and ninth Overall entering COTA.
Although Martin claimed the Pole at Austin and
ran second for the first dozen laps, the Spaniard ultimately dropped to eighth,
one position ahead of his teammate at the Chequered flag.
Obviously Nobody would have expected Gresini Racing’s
Enea Bastianini to not only be the leading Duc’ rider Points-wise, having slid down
to third following Argentina with 36 points. But who would have expected the 24yr
old Italian to have won His and Gresini’s maiden MotoGP victory at Qatar!
Then Bastianini who reputedly was the fastest at
COTA, winding his year old Duc’ up to a ridiculous 350kph, Yikes! Played the
long game, content to let Miller and Martin lead the early stages before taking
the lead with five laps remaining to win his second MotoGP race in Austin! And
thereby recaptures the Points lead with two wins, with 61 points.
Rookie Gresini teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio is
off to a typical MotoGP Debutante start, in surely what is a learning year for
Him. Not to mention firmly being Overshadowed by second year rider Bastianini…
The Mooney VR46 Racing Team seems somewhat of a
“Pet” project for The doctor’s, aka Valentino Rossi’s Half Brother Luca Marini,
who I think has scored a best of 11th to date. While Rookie teammate Marco
Bezzecchi scored an impressive seventh at Argentina.
Both the Factory Repsol and Satellite LCR Honda
rider lineups remain intact from last year.
And although the Factory duo of Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez got off to a
fast start in Doha, with Espargaro claiming
third and Marquez fifth. It All went Pear Shaped beginning in Indonesia, where
Marquez suffered a wicked High-side crash during the race’s morning warm-up and
missed the race due to having Double vision, presumably due to concussion.
Marquez sat out the following Argentina round,
still recovering from his blurred vision, while test rider Stefan Bradl
deputized for him with mediocre result.
Pol Espargaro crashed out of the Argentina race,
with his older brother Aleix being victorious, before finishing a Ho Hum 13th
Yet it was Marc Marquez, known simply as the
King of COTA who looked forward to his MotoGP return Stateside. Yet it
ultimately was a weekend of what could have been for the 29yr old Six-times
First Marquez qualified an uncharacteristic ninth,
where the mighty Ducati’s claimed the top five spots. Then at race’s start, the
Spaniard Dropped like a Stone to Dead last, i.e.; P24! Before putting on
another typical Marquez Clinique, ultimately holding off reigning MotoGP World
Champion Fabio Quartararo for sixth in what had to be the ride of the day!
Although Takaaki Nakagami claimed P10 in the
Desert’s season opener, have to say that the Honda LCR Satellite Squad seems an
afterthought on the grid for Mwah. As Thar results Don’t even register, typically
outside of the Top 10 finishers. With Alex Marquez, younger brother of Marc’s
best finish being P13 at Indonesia heading
to COTA. As Nakagami
and Alex ranked 15th and 20th Overall
respectively before Austin, where Takaaki finished P14 and Alex Crashed out of
The Werks’ riders remain the same with Brad
Binder and Miguel Oliveira, with the pair both standing on the podium. Binder
finished Runner-up at Qatar and Oliveira scored another win for KTM at the rain
sodden Indonesian GP. Binder was second in the Points table following Argentina
but has dropped to sixth after being the top KTM finisher at COTA in a Quiet 12th.
Really don’t know what to say about the Tech3
KTM “B Team” Satellite Squad, other then I didn’t expect too much from the two
rookies. As both Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez, who finished 1-2 respevtively
in last year’s Moto2 championship are in a learning year and have constantly finished
towards the tail end of the grid…
Their lineup remains unchanged, with Joan Mir
and Alex Rins being solid Top-10 Finishers, with 2020 MotoGP World Champion Mirs
leading a P6-7 finish at Qatar. And then Rins has gotten the better of Mir’s,
leading a P5-6 finish in Indonesia, and scoring Suzuki’s first podium of the
season in Argentina when finishing third, with Mir fourth, which seems to
becoming a trend.
Rins ran a stellar race at Circuit Of The
Americas, being the only rider able to crack what the media called the Ducati
Wall! As Rins picked off Jack Miller on the final lap to finish Runner-up, with
Mir P4. As Rims moves into second in the Championship just five points adrift
of Enea Bastianini, and Mir P4 Overall, 15 points adrift.
The Factory Yamaha Squad remains unchanged
after last year’s final roster shuffle. As Fabio Quartararo is the reigning
MotoGP champion, but has had a somewhat Subpar start in 2022, with finishes of P9-2-8.
Having Quipped following Argentina that eighth place finishes Don’t win you Championships!
Thus the Frenchman probably isn’t too Happy over being Boxed out by Marc
Marquez, having to settle for P7 at COTA, and 17 points behind Bastianini.
Franco Morbidelli seems to have struggled more
than Quartararo so far, with a best finish of seventh at Indonesia prior to COTA.
Morbidelli then finished a lowly 16th in Texas, his second finish outside
of the Top 10 after P11 in Qatar , along with retiring in Argentina. Making me
wonder what’s up with this Italian rider, or is it just more a sign of how the
Yamaha’s lagging behind?
The rebranded Yamahopper’ WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP
Satellite Squad is an interesting Dichotomy, as have to say I’m surprised by MotoGP
rookie Darryn Binder outperforming team leader Dovi’, aka Andrea Dovizioso prior
to the latest round in Texas. Especially with the latter’s wealth of MotoGP experience.
As the younger Binder brother pulled off a
tenth place finish in Indonesia, the team’s only Top 10 to date.