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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