2017 Austin MotoGP Race Result: Giving Himself A High Five

Make it five for five.

Marc Marquez shook off an uneven practice, a potential rival and a difficult handling bike to again dominate the race at the Circuit of the Americas Sunday and grab his first win of the 2017 season. The win means Marquez, the reigning world champion, has never finished lower than first in five contests at the Texas track.

But that was hardly the only story of the day. Valentino Rossi came out on top after battles with Johan Zarco, Dani Pedrosa and race direction to take second. Coupled with an early crash by Yamaha teammate Maverick Vinales, Rossi now leads the World Championship by six points. The win extends a remarkable run that has seen the 38-year-old on the podium every race this season -- the only rider to do so -- and finish in the top three for nine of the last 11 MotoGP races.

And Pedrosa, who led the race early on in a back-and-forth battle with Marquez, also claimed his best finish of the year in third. He held his own against his teammate early and then when Marquez made his annual break, held off Rossi until the final two laps. 

Cal Crutchlow took fourth after winning a dustup in the final laps with Johan Zarco (5th). Andrea Dovizioso took a quiet sixth, finishing seven seconds behind Zarco and one second ahead of former teammate Andrea Iannone (7th). Danilo Petrucci (8th) pipped a fading Jorge Lorenzo (9th). And Jack Miller (10th) capped a strong weekend with a top-10 finish on his satelite Honda. 

The Race

It was Pedrosa who struck first, grabbing the holeshot with a lightning start from the second row with Marquez hot on his tail. Rossi swept into third with Vinales two places behind him. Vinales quickly moved through the pack to lock onto Rossi's tail.

But Vinales, who was expected to finally give Marquez a run for his money at a track he has dominated, low-sided at Turn 18 on the second lap. The fall ended his day and would, at race's end, drop him into second in the championship.

After Vinales' crash, the race settled into a rythm for the next three laps with Pedrosa leading, Marquez in second and Rossi locked in behind the Repsol teammates. But early on, Marquez simply paced Pedrosa, pushing close but not past his teammate. 

Back in the pack, things began to get interesting. Zarco, who early on made aggressive, hard passes on both Crutchlow and Lorenzo, had moved into fourth and began to press Rossi with 16 laps to go. One lap later at Turn 3, Zarco dove inside Rossi and bumped the factory Yamaha rider wide and nearly off the track. Rossi recovered and cut across the infield at Turn 4 and back in front of Zarco.

And while the bump clearly forced Rossi off track, race direction ruled that Rossi took too much of a time advantage from the brief infield excursion and handed the Italian a three-tenths-of-a-second time penalty. But Rossi's team had no way easy way of communicating that to their rider. (Nor could they decide if they even should.) They elected to put nothing about it on his pit board.

With 12 laps remaining, Marquez kicked off his annual COTA disappearing act. He passed Pedrosa and reeled off a series of fast laps to open a gap on the field. Rossi too upped the pace and opened a gap to Zarco behind him while closing on Pedrosa.

With three laps remaining, Rossi was right on Pedrosa's tail. But given the time penalty, he would have to beat the Spaniard by more than three-tenths to be awarded second place at the race's end. One lap later, Rossi pounced at Turn 19 and swept inside Pedrosa. He immediately opened a half-second gap and, without knowing it, inoculated a potential runner-up finish in the process.

Four seconds behind, Crutchlow had closed on Zarco. On the final lap, he paid back the French rider with a tight pass to take fourth. At the finish line, Marquez won by three seconds over Rossi who, in turn, had opened a gap of two seconds on Pedrosa in third.

Result:

Pos. Num. Rider Bike Gap
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 43'58.770
2 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha +3.069
3 26 Dani PEDROSA Honda +5.112
4 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda +7.638
5 5 Johann ZARCO Yamaha +7.957
6 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati +14.058
7 29 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki +15.491
8 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati +16.772
9 99 Jorge LORENZO Ducati +17.979
10 43 Jack MILLER Honda +18.494
11 94 Jonas FOLGER Yamaha +18.903
12 45 Scott REDDING Ducati +28.735
13 53 Tito RABAT Honda +30.041
14 8 Hector BARBERA Ducati +31.364
15 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati +1'06.547
16 38 Bradley SMITH KTM +1'22.090
17 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 2 Laps
    Not Classified    
  22 Sam LOWES Aprilia 10 Laps
  44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 12 Laps
  76 Loris BAZ Ducati 13 Laps
  25 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 20 Laps
  17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 20 Laps

 

Round Number: 
3
2017
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Comments

At the pointy end of this race, the differences in the bikes were starkly illustrated, especially in the beginning of the race.  The Honda clearly stops better than anything, and you could see Marquez in particular holding the brakes right up to the apex.  The Yamaha is quite unstable on corner entry, and doesn't appear to load the front like the Honda - this is what killed Vinales it seems, and it makes Rossi's struggles in the early part of the season really well illustrated.  Maybe there is some setup magic possible in the Yamaha garage, but the bike clearly does not want to stop and turn at the same time - but mid-corner it's also unbelievable.

It was also interesting to see the Suzuki with Iannone vs. Lorenzo.  The Suzuki appears to be able to do more or less anything, at any time, except go really fast.  It's remarkable - and possibly the perfect bike for Iannone.

I am surprised that Lorenzo can't get this Ducati to work, as it seems to be extremely stable.  I guess the difference is that it requires hard braking, which is not Lorenzo's thing.

Anyway, interesting race and great illustration of where different bikes are good / bad.

I didnt get a good look at Mav's crash, but He left a big blackie. Was that from the front tyre as he was holding it up with his knee, elbow & shoulder ? Or what, mechanical failure locking the rear wheel?. Just as well M. Vinales has plenty of points

I think it was just a mix of many things. Maybe tyre wasn't quite up to temp yet, he also looked to be in the corner just a tiny bit faster and a fraction wider, and also with the full fuel tank too.

Mv didnt have the same feeling with the front as the warm-up but his rear had alot of grip in the early Laps and thats unusual for the first Laps he said.

4 Honda in the top 10 and DP said we made a big step. Honda never bring a bad bike and MM does not agree with CC. In qatar mm chose the wrong tire but befor he was as fast as MV. In argentina mm has the same pace as MV but had a crash like MV in this race but he was as fast as MV. Cc allready was on the podium befor and now 2 Honda's on the podium. Seems the bike does wel. Like in 2016 when mm said out bike isnt as bad as people think.
I said it befor...... its not a bad bike, its not a Suzuki or aprilia or Ducati. In every race they had the pace doe victory but mm fell 1 time and this time mv.