Austin MotoGP Subscriber Notes: A Satellite Challenger, What Went Wrong With Marquez, And Consistency Is Key

The Circuit of The Americas is an impressive venue set on the edge of a spectacular city, with much to commend it. Vast grounds to walk around, with plenty of grass banks overlooking large sections of track. And everywhere there is something to do, not necessarily racing related, with a large vendor area, a funfair, and more.

What COTA isn't known for is spectacular racing. As MotoGP commentator and Paddock Pass Podcast regular Neil Morrison likes to say, the usual sequence of events is, we spend Thursday speculating who might be able to beat Marc Marquez this year, spend Friday analyzing Marquez' pace, and wondering if he's lost his edge at the track, marvel at him grabbing pole on Saturday, then watch him disappear into the distance after the first lap or two, as the race turns into a procession.

Not in 2022, though. This year, the race brought spectacle, hard battles, and a much more open race than in the past. A new winner, and a rider who seems to have an edge. And yes, a spectacular ride by Marc Marquez demonstrating his superiority at COTA, though this time, forced into it by a problem on the grid that saw him enter the first corner dead last.

But there was also a sense of some kind of normality returning to the championship, with recognizable title candidates all at the front. Thanks to the circuit, Austin may have been a very abnormal race weekend, but there is a definite shape emerging to the 2022 MotoGP season.

In these subscriber notes:

  • Mr 50%: why is Enea Bastianini outperforming the other Ducati riders?
  • Marc Marquez forced to be Marc Marquez: a bad start and charge through the field builds confidence
  • What went wrong with Marc Marquez' Honda on the grid
  • Quartararo vs Marquez, a taste of things to come
  • Suzuki rising, consistency pays off

First, the man of the moment. Enea Bastianini rode a superlative, measured race to take victory in Austin, his second of the season and breaking the streak of different winners in the previous four races (Pecco Bagnaia at Valencia 2021, Bastianini at Qatar, Miguel Oliveira in Mandalika, and Aleix Espargaro at Termas de Rio Hondo).

What impressed most was the way Bastianini won. The Italian was patient, the most important and paradoxical rider virtue. He sat behind Jack Miller and Jorge Martin, saving his rear tire in what he understood was going to be a very long race. Jorge Martin, lacking speed in the straight, was pushing harder to keep in the corners, and that meant that he burned through his rear tire. Miller, too, finished his tire, though a little later, after making a couple of mistakes while leading.

Slow vs fast Ducatis?

Martin's complaints of a lack of speed are noteworthy. The two Ducatis who led the race, Martin and Miller, were way down on the top speed charts, Miller 17th in terms of fastest top speed set, 5.5 km/h behind Enea Bastianini, Martin 19th, 6.5 km/h faster. Slower than Marc Marquez and the two Suzukis, and only a couple of clicks faster than Fabio Quartararo on the notoriously sluggish Yamaha M1.

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year: 
2022
round_number: 
4

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Comments

In the race Fabio was better off for top speeds than last year. In the race last year Fabio was 14.4k down on the fastest, Jack Miller's Ducati, both average of top 5 speeds and best top speed. This year Fabio is 8.6k down on best top speed but 10k down on the average of 5 best speeds against Bastianini. An improvement, not bad for such a long straight preceded by a such a tight turn.

However, in qually he has lost some.

2021 -7.8k best and -6.1k average.

2022 -13.1k best and -9.6k average.

I think wings give us a nice pile of something. The Ducati might have a whole bunch more umpf, the result is not a whole bunch higher top speeds but more of those horrible looking aero appendages. In other words, the more aero, the less use top speed comparisons make. Fabio improves in the race from one year to the next but actually he loses because he has less downforce. I hate wings.

I can't imagine how they must feel. On a Honda specifically designed to benefit Honda riders that are not MM93, when returning from a bout op diplopia and other injuries, he charges from the back of the field to become the no. 1 Honda finisher. It is not the bike then.......3 factory Hondas available in 2023? 

Asparagus was pretty sick. But I have no idea why Taka and Marquez Jr still have their rides. Well, Marc might have something to say about the latter ... but on performance? Get off the stage, kid.

AM's performances might have been sub-par overall, but he holds more championships in his hands than most of the grid have on their resumes. It has to be said that his seat in MotoGP came fairly, but his longevity at Honda will no doubt have big bros influence written all over it. He would still be in the factory team if Marc had his way surely.

We're fortunate to have your outstanding reporting and commentary on these races, David. Thanks so much for all you and the team do.

One thing about Marc's performance I thought was very interesting, besides having a stellar ride, were shots of him with the rear wheel high up in the air whilst braking. The new Honda has more rear bias baked in, for additional grip, but also allowing the rear to be used more in braking to the apex. That was what Pol had been wanting so he could ride the way he's best at. Marc had been struggling to adapt to that, but during this race it looked like he was making the bike behave the way the former version did.

Great write-up! Like everyone else, there is only one section of the track that I like and that is T11-T1. The endless esses from T2 to T10 really suck on TV and are no more enjoyable trackside. Still, the weekend had some highlights for me. In MotoGP it was the Beast and Rins. Both were very calculating and despite Miller's fierce defense we could all see when his rear tire quit working, leaving him a sitting duck. Still I thought he rode well and was in fact conserving his tire... Just not enough? Meanwhile Marquez charge through the field appeared pretty sketchy to me but he did set the 2nd fastest lap behind the Beast and ahead of 3rd quickest, Maverick Viñales. In Moto2 I was crushed when Cam low sided on T16 of the last lap while in 4th. Probably my favorite moments of the weekend was Petrucci's performance on MotoA Superbike. He had the whole MotoGP paddock behind him! Plus his dominance was popular among the fans. People just love that guy and so does the media. Very cool! True, he knew the track as well as anybody, but the bike is still strange as are the tires. He had the superior Ducati speed down those long straights, and he used it. He might not enjoy the dominance at the rest of the MotoA tracks, but the bike will get better and he will improve using it too. 

I was doing a quick scroll down the page and saw that as "mindless esses", which is pretty much what I think of them. I think they were trying too hard when they designed that section of track.

Agree so much on the fussy layout, it is just designed for high downforce vehicles with too many wheels.  Reduce the corner count for bikes and straighten it out a bit.  Without having been there and not knowing the lay of the land, something like elimintate turns 4 & 8, and run turn 12 straight to turn 15 (or 13 to 17?).

Lets see a motomutterers redesign to un-Tilkify what has the potential to be a great circuit! :)

If you get a chance, modern games for car racing are close to simulation. You can chose what car (that fits your skill), sort it, and run many of these tracks. I do better at ones I have ridden in reality, and experience similar challenges (w no risk). 

Lapping COTA (did GT3 cars last time)? Boring ass track. 

Tracks have soul. Character. Like people...how do I feel spending time w you?

Mir's comments about hating this track, enduring it and trying not to offend by mentioning it? Yup. 

COTA is straight CAD printed onto dirt somewhere and it shows. It's uber-technical for sure but makes for difficult watching from the couch. I can't stand it on sims either Shrink, but Portimao is on the fringes of being on my Mt Rushmore. I'll be cutting a lot of laps there in RR3 over the next couple of weeks for sure.

I made a comment to my wife about Marc being a bit standoffish and wearing sunglasses every time I saw a picture of him from this weekend, and my wife asked if he was still photophobic after his concussion in Indonesia.

It's a good question. Marc says the doctors have told him hes 100% fine, but thanks to my wife's observation, I wonder if he's still not feeling his latest head injury.

I'll be very interested to see if he's wearing his sunnies as often in Poritmao and Jerez! 

As I mentioned elsewhere, it seems to be pretty certain that concussions tend to create cumulative damage over time, and more and more sports are getting serious about tracking them in their athletes. When I got one racing my doctor insisted I take a year off -- I was hardly making my living at it, but the choice of possible long-term health problems vs a few weekends of fun was a no-brainer for me.

Reminds me to appreciate and miss Dr Costa.

"Well Larry has the gods in his blood, his heart beats for all of speed over time. So he a-rides anya-way, so he must be ok."

Hope he's enjoying retirement, he was here well into his 70s.

..after a MX crash when i was around 21/22, it wasn't a nice feeling.  A year or so later i had double vision and a balance problem. It felt like i was a touch drunk and had to make sure i had hold of things before i picked them up. The Dr's put it down to Meniere's Disease which usually affects old people! I won't bore you with the rest of the story..

Yeah, Stu. I hear you. My 5th and final concussion was a doozy. Took a yr to feel normal, and even then it was a "New normal" w a few minor lingering oddities. Balance, nausea, odd sensitivity triggers, word finding for a bit, lack of inhibition. 

It was a good while before I rode again, outside of the pit scooter around town. I was hugely relieved when I finally put a sportbike at decent pace and basically sorta "still had it," meaning I could go fast comfortably and enjoy it. 

Bore us - did you have longer term balance problems? Was it multiple concussions or just the one? 

(You are going to win the 2022 MM contest!!)

It's a nasty feeling and glad i wasn't bad for a year!

I've had a few, the first when i was about 8, on a bicycle racing my older brother, the MX one, another on a bicycle when i also dislocated my right shoulder. My ambition obviously outweighs my talent!  Anyway, i got medication for the Meniere's and the symptoms eventually went away, it had been several months between the start and end of the problem .Oddly, even up to a few years ago,  if I hummed loudly at a particular frequency i would go very dizzy. 

It wasn't until i wanted to do scuba diving a few years later that I found, via a very intensive medical, that  i no longer had Meniere's or if that was the problem in the first place, i was told to slowly reduce the medication over a period of time. I can't remember when the tinnitus started hahahaha .

My most memorable one was arguing with the corner marshall that just because my bike was flat on one side that I still should be able to rejoin the race; club race.

Both of my sons were knocked out cold for a few minutes. The oldest at the Daytona chicane during first practice in the cold aboard a 600. Leading a draft pack, he crashed when he hit the first right due to cold right side of tire. He was run over and still has that helmet with rubber on it. He was out cold in the chicane for two laps of practice before they flagged it. After a trip to the ER he came back to the track looking to continue. The team manager told him he was out of motorcycle racing for a few months and that was it... A few years later number two son crashed into the NASCAR wall of T1 at Loudon. It was just after the start when he jammed up to the front from the third row on the outside and was jammed into the outside wall just as he hit his brake marker, The wall locked his front brake lever (no brake guards until the next season) and this threw him down with no effective braking at all. Both he and his bike piled into the air fence at huge speed. The bike careened 10 feet in the air and ended up in the grass outside of road race T1. He also bounced far. He didn't know where he was for two days. He stayed with me and asked me over and over what happened. Three weeks later he told his older brother he feels pretty good and wanted to get back on the track. His Brother responded; "You won't know what feeling good is like, until you actually do. You won't be riding for a few months"... And it was.

I wonder how many more visors Marc has to lose before he moves to another brand.

I have crashed Shoeis many, many times and have never had reason to change.  Just as good as Arai, depends which fits the shape of your head better.  Shoei saved my life on several occasions (getting run over by a fully loaded 18-wheel gravel truck resulted in many life-threatening injuries, intensive care for 4 days after 16hrs of emergency surgeries). Head was fine, Shoei was crushed and/or spiderwebbed over 100% of helmet. Many other crashes that could/should have resulted in serious head trauma came out fine (head wise anyway).  If Marc was to change, I hope Arai would be the only alternative.

Until reading this comment thread, I was thinking we have seen a new more open honest Marquez. Now, I'm not so sure. His flip comment to Appleyard on coming out of the fitness meeting. "Vision either works or doesn't" I'm sure his drive, Spanish machisimo, and professional sportsman ethic (that is none), would give him the philosophical justification to hide any injury and with the practice he has had over the years, I wouldn't be surprised if he could beat concussion, double vision, and other protocols handily. Right now he could be dealing with double vision, confusion etc. Certainly those last 2 symptoms could explain his starting line SNAFU.

Considering double vision will affect your balance and depth perception to such an extent that you are unable to walk or perform simple tasks, I doubt the theory that he is riding at GOAT level whilst experiencing it holds any weight. I admit that I've had similar lines of thinking here and there given his psychotic competitive nature but let's be realistic - it's not happening.

Your entire comment is a giant leap of faith into the 'how many times can I shit on Marc in one paragraph with pure speculation' realm.

Ya think? And I like the guy. Yes, pure spec, and up until now I have been more than willing to buy at face value his reformation. Not a huge leap of faith to get to the tone of my earlier post. I recently had double vision. Different cause than Marc. I could easily ride my bike with an eye patch, but I never got over my brain trying to integrate images from each eye. Doesn't mean Marc, given the time he has had and his obvious drive, hadn't successfully mastered riding with double vision. Concusssed addlepation, no doubt he thinks he can ride that way. Given what we saw when he came back with one arm. He is more than willing to risk others on the track if he thinks he is "good enough". He comes back from a concussion and double vision, and in the first real stress test, he possibly hits the wrong combination of colored switches and lights. Not hatin' to question his "recovery".

Maybe something to consider to everybody lobbing negative comments about.... Marc like all other riders is human. Human's have emotions ranging from stress, anxiety, performance anxiety to euphoria of winning. IMHO Marc was stressed about riding again and didn't want to show it. But in the end his body language and behaviour makes me believe 100% that he was stressed and suffering with performance anxiety... then the second part is trust in the media, fans etc... How much more does a 8 times world champion have to prove to the public that he is one of the best we have ever if not the best we have ever seen swing a leg over a motorcycle? Yeah Marc can be a pain in the arse at times but IMHO he has earned this right... He owns enough "been there done that" t-shirts to last him a lifetime...

I’ve never been that taken by the GOAT debate and, IMO, what MM93 is seeking to prove is that he’s still the best, same as every other previous champ that ever rode, raced or competed. I doubt any of them ever cared that much about what we thought, this is secondary to how they feel about themselves (which is pretty normal, isn’t it). For sure MM93 is the outstanding talent of the last 10 years but, as they say, you’re only as good as your last race. That’s not to say I think he’s washed up, he’s still comparatively young and is as likely to bounce back as not.

I disagree with him, or anyone else, feeling their success gives them a right to treat others as inferior. Even though this too is normal behaviour, it only feels like a right if others allow it to seem so. Personally, I quite enjoy ‘equalising’ relations with such people and half the time I think they prefer that anyway. In his defence I only see that arrogance on track and recognise it as the mark of a champion - half of Dani Pedrosa’s problem was that he just seems too nice, too reasonable.

Thanks Motoshrink today it is working.

Nice highlights. Not the best editing.

Marc didn't give team mate Pol a lot of room.

No love lost and was more than happy to send him wide until Pol conceded the corner. I seem to recall similar tactics in their Moto2 days.. perhaps even a penalty..

Why should he a flying fuck about other riders? You sound like you are more suited ballroom dancing competition than Motogp, or maybe you think HRC hired Marc to finish second?

I think HRC hired Marc to be part of a championship winning TEAM.

Marc Marquez is part of a team. Marc doesn't drive the truck, work on his bikes or cook his own lunches.

MotoGp is a team sport in many ways. An individuals' sport on the track, yes. Marc Marquez may be the most important member of the HRC team. He may think he is the most important person in the paddock.

But riders come and go, HRC has been around a long time. HRC thinks the bike is more important than the riders. Isn't that why Valentino Rossi left Honda and never went back?

Pol Espargaro is also part of that team. They travel together, work and eat together. If the culture within the team turns sour the results can be less than optimal.

See; Yamaha. One superstar doesn't win you the teams championship. Or make the bike appealing to other talented riders.

Bet LCR are really happy that Honda let CC35 go in favour of AM and / or TN

 

I really enjoyed the post race press conference, Frank from Autosport Germany always asks great questions, as do the most of the journos... I had a good chuckle when Simon Patterson asked Jack about if he'd be happy to go back to Pramac... I know Jack & Simon have a bit of history so his disdain is palpable when Simon asks him a question... Goes to show that sometimes doing your job as a rider and doing your job as a journo is a balancing act... not always possible to get on with everybody

During the Parc Ferme interview, Jack made the incredible faux pas of refering to the Texas crowd as "Yankees". Now to the rest of the world Americans are Yanks. To Americans, Yankees are the liberals from the North East of the country: New England and New York. I am a Yankee. His slip made me chuckle.

Bit off topic but...

Trackside Doc: What's your name and number?

Kevin: Schwantz 34

Trackside Doc: Where are you?

Kevin: Turn 1, Mugello

Trackside Doc: What day is it?

Kevin: Well I slid that far it must be Monday