Franco Morbidelli won his third race of the year -- a clean sweep of the season so far -- at the Circuit of the Americas track Sunday after a mid-race battle saw Alex Marquez run wide and leave the championship points leader with no steady challenger for the rest of the contest.
Morbidelli's victory further cements his early-season dominance; He's not only won each race but also led nearly every lap of 2017. Thomas Luthi ended what had been a weekend of struggle for the Swiss rider with a second place, two-seconds off the leader's time. Takaaki Nakagami took third to complete a podium identical to the one at season's first contest in Qatar.
Alex Marquez, who was fast in each practice and seemed likely to challenge Mobidelli's win streak, finished in fourth after fading from a early battle with the eventual winner. Dominique Aegerter had his best finish of the year in fifth, three seconds clear of Miguel Oliveira (6th). Simone Corsi continued his improving form for the year in seventh, just pipping Marcel Schrotter (8th).
Xavi Vierge (9th) and Luca Marini (10th) completed the top 10.
The race began similar to every other race this season: With Morbidelli sweeping into the lead immediately. As the pack fought for position, Stephano Manzi torpedoed Julian Simon taking both riders out of the contest.
But Morbidelli didn't simply check out. He first had to contend with a fast Mattia Pasini and an aggressive Marquez. Pasini struck first, passing Morbidelli in the middle of the first lap. But by the lap's end, Morbidelli had regained the top spot. Then it was Marquez's turn with 17 laps remaining.
Using a slipstream, he sliced past Morbidelli to take the lead. But one lap later, Marquez ran wide at Turn 15 while under pressure from the points leader. Morbidelli again regained the lead. And this time, it would be for good. Pasini and a charging Luthi also slipped by Marquez.
With 15 laps remaining, Luthi took second from Pasini. Two laps later, Pasini crashed at Turn 1, perpetuating a dismal year for the Italian rider whose best best finish of the year is 20th. With nine laps to go, Luthi began to slightly close on the race leader who was nursing a one-second gap at this point.
But Luthi could get no closer than that and eventually tied his best finish of the year with a second place.
|7||24||Simone CORSI||Speed Up||+13.335|
|9||97||Xavi VIERGE||Tech 3||+18.079|
|24||47||Axel BASSANI||Speed Up||+1'07.841|
|25||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Kalex||+1'08.137|
|57||Edgar PONS||Kalex||17 Laps|
|7||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI||Kalex||0 Lap|
|68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||Kalex||0 Lap|
|60||Julian SIMON||Tech 3||0 Lap|
|62||Stefano MANZI||Kalex||0 Lap|