Suzuki man earns sensational first MotoGP™ win in a battle against ‘The Doctor’, Miller on the podium, COTA King crashes out of the lead
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) secured Suzuki’s first MotoGP™ win since the 2016 British GP after edging out Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to an extraordinary win at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, which saw King of COTA Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) crash out of the lead.
As the lights went out it was Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) who got the better launch out of the front three on the grid, with Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) also getting off the line well as the duo pulled alongside Marquez up the hill, but it was the pole man who was bravest on the brakes to grab the holeshot. Rossi and Crutchlow slotted into second and third as the duo tried to keep tabs on the leader, with Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) making a stellar start from P13 to move up to P6 on the opening lap.
Marquez didn’t get away from the clutches of Rossi straight away in the opening couple of laps, but the reigning World Champion then started to pull the pin and by lap five, the gap was 1.4 seconds. It was quickly becoming a battle for second and in it was Rossi and Crutchlow, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Rins right in the hunt.
Crutchlow’s race then came to a premature end as he crashed out of contention at Turn 11 on Lap 6, which started a chain reaction of Texas hauntings for Honda. With a three second lead on Lap 9, Marquez was clear of the rest and the magnificent seven was well in sight. But then the unthinkable happened. The King of COTA crashed, Turn 12 the place as the number 93 tucked the front and it was race over, his RC213V didn’t want to restart and his crown was lost. Then, Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) was out. Another chain issue for the five-time World Champion?
But who would Marquez’ crown be going to? Rins had got past Miller for third and it was soon Rossi vs Rins for the Americas GP win. 10 to go, Rossi was cracking the whip at the front with Rins less than half a second back, their gap to Miller was over two seconds as the Australian found himself in a lonely third.
It was all about the duo at the front though. Rossi going for premier class win number 90, Rins going for that illustrious first. With four laps to go there was still nothing between them but then, at Turn 7, Rins made his move. A clean and crisp pass up the inside of ‘The Doctor’. The latter then attempted to bite straight back at Turn 12, but he was in too hot and ran wide. This left Rins with a 0.7 advantage with three to go and then with two to go, with the gap still hovering at half a second, Rossi ran in deep at Turn 11. Race over? Not quite.
Rins was holding his nerve and that gap between the 42 and 46 was 0.7, but Rossi wasn’t done. The 40-year-old edged 0.1 closer to the Suzuki in each of the first two sectors and suddenly the gap was down to 0.3 in the fourth sector– but it wasn’t enough. Rins trumped Rossi in America and came home to take his first MotoGP™ victory and in doing so, became the first rider to win at the Circuit of the Americas in all the classes. Rossi settled for a second consecutive second of the season to claim his 198th premier class podium as he leaves COTA second in the Championship, three behind Dovi with Rins a further two back in third.
7.9 seconds back, Miller held off some late pressure from a fellow GP19 to take his first Ducati podium. Elation for the Australian, with Dovizioso recovering superbly to earn P4 in Texas – the Championship lead is his heading into Europe. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) would come across the line in fifth to pick up his best premier class result, he beat compatriot Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) – a third P6 in a row for the Italian. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was another rider to grab his best MotoGP™ result in seventh, another strong ride for the leading rookie, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) taking his and KTM’s best result of the season in 8th. The Spaniard held off reigning Moto2™ World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) by 0.8 as the Italian also picked up his best premier class result.
10th went the way of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), the leading Honda in Austin, with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) 11th. Both he and compatriot Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) were handed ride through penalties after jump starts, with Viñales taking the long lap penalty at least once before coming through pitlane. Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Reale Avintia Racing’s Tito Rabat completed the points.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was an early faller at Turn 14 – rider ok.
Wow. Who was expecting that? The King of COTA has been dethroned as the title race is blown wide open. Jerez and Round 4 is next, with the top four in the Championship split by nine points.