2021 Austin MotoGP Race Result: A Walkover More Than A Walkdown

If you’ve had enough of the rodeo puns by now, how about the seventh instalment of a spaghetti western where the rivals drop to the ground before the cowboy even starts the walkdown? That was pretty much the story of how Marc Marquez reclaimed his throne at the Circuit of the Americas. While the Honda man enjoyed the sweetest tasing donut of the last couple of years from the top step of the podium for a seventh time, Fabio Quartararo was almost as delighted to take second and put one hand firmly on the big trophy. Although he did a solid recovery job in the closing stages of the race, poleman Pecco Bagnaia could not reach the high bar he set for himself over the last couple of weekends and had to make do with the final podium place.

Missing out on pole did not seem to harm Marquez in the slightest, the Spaniard making a fine start to lead the way into turn one, ahead of Quartararo and Bagnaia, with Alex Rins immediately in the mix and attacking for third. Teammate Joan Mir also made some early progress up to sixth, while Johann Zarco dropped to 10th, behind Jack Miller.

Although Marquez had his lead unchallenged going into the second lap, the escape was pending, as he only found a couple of tenths on Quartararo and Rins, while Bagnaia dropped half a tenth back and was under pressure from Jorge Martin, Takaaki Nakagami and Mir. The pressure on the Italian was alleviated somewhat when Nakagami crashed out at turn 12 but he was also losing tenths on Martin in the early stages, while Brad Binder, Miller and Zarco were chasing them to soon join the group.

Back at the front, Marquez kept Quartararo just out of striking distance, but the duo kept close for the next few laps, while Rins and Martin were battling right behind. The Bagnaia-led group was also bridging the gap, with Miller playing wingman just behind the Italian and keeping Mir, Binder and Zarco at bay. However, Zarco did not even get a chance to challenge the men ahead, as he crashed out at turn one on lap five.

If until that point there was merely a hint at an escape plan, Marquez’s gap suddenly increased to over a second on lap six, while Quartararo was under fire from Martin. After a steady start, Miller was on the attack as well and climbed into fourth, ahead of Rins, Bagnaia, Binder and Mir, who did not seem to make much noise in the early stages and allowed some pretty significant gaps to build between them over the next few laps.

The biggest gap was still Marquez’s, the COTA king over two seconds ahead by the halfway point of the race, while Quartararo had ditched Martin, who dropped within reach of Milller. Although the Australian bridged the gap with relative ease, getting past the Spaniard was not an easy task and the rookie kept stretching away from his factory colleague. Another second down the road, Bagnaia found some pace mid-race to get past Rins and within a couple of laps had closed onto his teammate to challenge for fifth. The challenge was brief, Miller allowing Bagnaia past with eight laps remaining and fending off Rins, whose teammate was enjoying a safe gap on Binder but making no impact on the one second gap to Rins.

Despite the terrifying jolts every time he was on screen, Marquez extended a four-second gap on Quartararo going into the final handful of laps, while Martin’s podium looked reasonably secure despite the late speed shown by Bagnaia. The Italian kept pushing but the 1.8 seconds gap was slow to budge, with the cameras turning their focus to the battle behind him, where Rins got the better of Miller with five laps left and quickly dropped the Ducati.

A flawless Marquez continued on route to reclaim the COTA throne from a distant but happy Quartararo, but a few mistakes started creeping in behind them towards the end. The first major one dropped Martin right back into Bagnaia’s clutches for the final four laps and the rookie withheld the pressure but didn’t do as good of a job with track limits and was promptly handed out a long lap penalty for taking a shortcut between turns four and five. To add insult to injury, Bagnaia quite effortlessly breezed past with two laps remaining and serving the penalty lost Martin another position to Rins on the final lap. Enea Bastianini was hindered by a 16th grid position but the rookie had joined the top 10 halfway through the race and chased Mir and Miller for the final few laps. Contact between the two on the final lap allowed Bastianini to swoop in and claim sixth place, while Mir took seventh from Miller, although the incident was quickly under investigation and the roles were reversed. Binder and Pol Espargaro rounded out the top 10 positions, with a notable mention to Andrea Dovizioso, who finished 13th and wasn’t too far off the top 10 on his second race for Petronas.

Despite missing out on the win, Quartararo seemed as happy as he’s ever been, fully aware that the outcome gets him one step closer to the title, with a nice 52-point cushion over Bagnaia, as the sole challenger left.

Results:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time/Diff
1 93 Marc Marquez Honda 41'41.435
2 20 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha +4.679
3 63 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati +8.547
4 42 Alex Rins Suzuki +11.098
5 89 Jorge Martin Ducati +11.752
6 23 Enea Bastianini Ducati +13.269
7 43 Jack Miller Ducati +14.722
8 36 Joan Mir Suzuki +13.406
9 33 Brad Binder KTM +15.832
10 44 Pol Espargaro Honda +20.265
11 88 Miguel Oliveira KTM +23.055
12 73 Alex Marquez Honda +24.743
13 4 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha +25.307
14 10 Luca Marini Ducati +26.853
15 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha +28.055
16 27 Iker Lecuona KTM +30.989
17 30 Takaaki Nakagami Honda +35.251
18 9 Danilo Petrucci KTM +42.239
19 21 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha +49.854
Not Classified
  41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 12 Laps
  5 Johann Zarco Ducati 15 Laps
Round Number: 
15
2021
Tweet Button: 

Back to top

Comments

If Marc Marquez were a great heavyweight boxer of yore, I'd equate him to Evander Holyfield. I digress and pardon me sir. What a ride. It was pretty mesmerising to observe. I hope that right shoulder and arm are 100% for next year and HRC give him a slightly better bike for 2022. Fabio is in cruise control to the title. Binder 10 seconds ahead of Oliveira and Dovi closing in as second best Yamaha. Watch out Fabio. Dovi has an uncanny knack of dethroning superstars when given equal kit and support with the same manufacturer. Not a knack actually. He is just that good. The best GP racer to have never won the premier class title.

trophy designer on phone to C of A ;

"what? the race is tomorrow?!"

*hangs up and runs to childrens" toy box and starts pullings things out to used in trophy construction*

Nice powder horn for a muzzle loader.

I prefer the golden handlebars.

Joan M1R and Jack Miller best friends forever...........................................................NOT!

Jacko seemed a bit cranky at the end of the race. Mir? well that's racing, must expect racers to try very hard on the last lap. Get over it Jack, get some good results in the last 3 races. Let's see if Miller can take Mir's third place in the championship. Doubt it.

No points for pole Pecco, best Ducati, slips further behind Fabulous Q. Maybe next year for Ducati's first title since CS27, we'll see.

I see why MotoGp racers like to practice on motocross tracks. COTA where they go to test suspension systems to destruction.

... of Mir was hilarious to watch. I couldn't help but chuckle at the comedy of that moment. Mir with his faux-guilt and Miller waving his finger in Joan's face like an older brother failing to intimidate his younger. Delightful stuff haha

Best part of the race, imo, definitely had me laughing. As for the actual racing, WSBK has been a lot more interesting most of the year (allowing for exceptional contests like Aragon and Misano).

Second race in a row that Mir has been penalised for a ragged move on the last lap, both on his "good friend" Miller to boot.  Not good coverage of either move, and you've got to expect it on the last lap, but...

Of more relevance is why Miller is fading so badly in the final laps of late, something needs fixing there.  A disappointing race for him for sure, at a place where he might have had hopes of even challenging for the win.

Under the radar in what was otherwsie a bit of a snoozefest, was a top ride by FQ, all-but sealing the championship.  Great ride also by Martin who is destined for a factory ride in 2023 whether it be Ducati or elsewhere.

Well yeah, that'll happen when you pitch it on lap two, but I was there and watching him reel in the pack was a thing of beauty. I need to look up his lap times but they had to be rippen. I'm a fan after that ride!

 

I like Martin's line choices off the start - thoughtful guy. Binder as well, smart opening lines.. The Duc - Suzuki battle of Rins and Martin looks interesting. Bagnaia too, big power advantage reaching the rear wheel for Red. 

We need to acknowledge Fabio on the Yamaha...he is able to Alien that thing up amongst the front. (Dovi too is showing well). 

Mir - Binder - Miller provided good battle fodder. The KTM is still coming as a great Honda-like contender. Mir took a pass on the inside with contact. This line is inevitable between the two bikes.

Particularly when ridden like Jack does, old school rear wheel style. Miller has plenty of egoic behavior, the post race argument with Mir as example. It is a 50 - 50 to me, amongst a better line and rider from Mir. Have not seen it from above etc to get enough perspective yet. But Jack doesn't own that line. Rough pass? Yes. Fair? Yes. Getting his arse handed to him via poor tire choice and a blown chance for a podium challenge for Jack? Yes! I think Martin is a legit challenger for his seat. Jack's frustration is understandable, both on the rough pass AND being overtaken as Ducati's #1 rider. He is wheel to wheel w Martin and I think being overtaken. Martin and Bagnaia had a race with each other, we saw what was there today. Jack has been clearly bested this year. Mid corner in particular.

Rins is a bit of a COTA guy, but the Suzuki went great here. The best Yamaha on the grid (Blue has an Alien). It set up well and can do chicanery like the Honda without tossing you off. Great feel!

Bastiannini! Again! Vale, not giving him the 2022 bike is looking increasingly crap. 

Bagnaia's form on the Duc is brilliant. He is bending it around corners with unrivalled front/rear balance consistently. Hats off to Duc engineers this year of course, it takes lean angle and proffers mid corner ability sufficient to exploit the old braking stability AND a drive out unmatched by any other bike on the grid. Plus tire management that defies common sense! Pecco is surgical in his race craft. Very thoughtful.

Mid corner speed Jack is bested by Bagnaia and Martin. Tire management too.

Marc is coming good on recovery. Quartararo was Alien today. Bagnaia, Martin and even Bastiannini were all transcending mortal foible.

Marc is looking good for sure and it's so good to see it. He makes things much more interesting up at the pointy end. But his comments about the humerus not being fully fused yet (though no signs of infection) and a fourth surgery a possibility really puts the shivers up my spine. Signs of infection doesn't mean no infection as he found out last time. The news took me back a bit.

I think we can sum up Mir's overtake as...

'Sorry, I have to take big risks because I'm on a Suzuki.'

'I didn't mean to hit anyone.'

'I was really surprised he took that line (to the apex).'

'Once I realised it wasn't working I tried to make the collision as comfortable as possible.'

Which race I am talking about is a question I'll leave unanswered.

On its own it's just one of those things, a racing incident, a mistake etc. Nothing to see there but I stopped counting the number of these moves from Mir a lot earlier in the season. Subtle differences. I saw some complaints online asking why Marc never gets a penalty but Mir does. In my opinion Marc has often been guilty of underestimating the width of his bike and seems quite happy to have a bit of contact. However, usually his bike is pointing in the same direction of the other bike. He goes for it and keeps going for it come what may. Mir goes for it, decides it isn't going to work, opens his line and gently runs into the side of the other bike so as not to risk both of them crashing. When that is repeated more than a few times it begs the question...when he goes for it, what is he 'going' for ? They gave him the benefit of the doubt all season but there's a limit.

 

Could see this coming a lap in advance. Apparently mir did get miller in the first sector with a clean move. That suprised me. But then miller got him back on the back straight. And then mir started being a battering ram again. I don't get how marquez gets all this hate for being aggresive but mir doesn't. To be fair i really don't like mir. And i'm a big miller fan but i just don't get it. I also think he should have been penalised worse. I mean what's will stop him from doing this again? If he tries it again and it works out than great he moves up a position if not he just gets penalised one postion and he's back at where he was before he started ramming. He only lost out now because bastianini passed them too. 

Also people keep saying mir is so much better than rins but when rins passes people it's a lot cleaner than mir his passes. 

Mir is the only one consistently passing in this way. He has explained it away in the past as "the only way we can pass them" - specifically the Ducati's in that instance. His personality has definitely been in full view this year and he doesn't seem like all that nice of a chap to be honest. Congratulations to him for winning last years shite-fest of a season, but he's not an alien.

You don't get to be world champion by being a nice guy. You must be ruthless, obsessive, selfish, etc. Maybe you're a decent person off the track, as long as no one interferes with your training, but not on the track

How would you know he's a punk off track? Really.

So weird to see how some people seem to take this show personally. Like they were wronged themselves.

Ha ha, that's fine. You have had a couple drunken posts, but who's counting. You do seem to find the good in every rider. Me, I like picking heros and villains. 

We really are, and since I started this pissing match, let me fall on my sword, apologize and (hopefully) clean my side of the street. One of those (many) times when I should have deleted a post instead of save. Won't be the last probably.

In some ways i think he would come out of it better if he wasn't so nice. He's going into these moves with 'I'm sorry', 'I tried', 'I tried to make the contact nice and gentle' and that is reflected in how the moves play out...a slow motion mess. I think in many ways it would be better for all if he went at it like Marc. He would be more successful and the other rider would come off better too.

As for being a punk ?....school yard.

But I would offer that MM93 is doing his best (lately) to make his passes clean, with no contact, even in these desperate (for him) times. Of course, he's on a different bike. Can't see what the other Honda riders are doing.

Same thing for FB63 and FQ20. Again, they find a way, on different bikes.

But then, there's no telling what any of those guys would be forced to do on a Suzuki?

I like JM36, as he seems to have a bit broader world and life view than some of the other riders.