Lots of ominous dark clouds hung over the Circuit Of The Americas as raceday got underway in Austin. Luckily, the riders had plenty of practice in all kinds of conditions this weekend, so nothing was alien to them.
The track was quite wet for the beginning of the baby class, with lots of damp patches throughout the circuit. This came to play several times in the race, riders coming off the racing line being made to pay the penalty for doing so.
Polesitter Danny Kent's start let him down, as second-placed Miguel Oliveira swept past him and into the lead, with Kent falling down to fifth. Come the end of lap one, Niccoló Antonelli had made up three places from the start and led the field over the line.
By lap four, Kent had worked his way back to the front - the pace he was losing in the straights being made up for by superb speed in and out of corners, as the others began to split into separate groups, all taking chunks out of each other and letting Kent escape, creating nearly two seconds of breathing space.
Antonelli then dropped his bike going into a hairpin, closely followed by Hiroki Ono, narrowly avoiding being hit by the Japanese's bike as it skittled away. Antonelli managed to get back on the bike, rejoining in 25th before having to pit. He rejoined the race with pieces of his bike hanging off. In the meantime, Kent went about opening up a gap of four seconds to the chasing pack, who had no answer to him.
Half way through, bikes started to fall. Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Navarro came off at the same corner, while Miguel Oliveira followed them shortly afterwards. The fight for the podium became between Alexis Masbou, Fabio Quartararo, Efren Vasquez, Enea Bastianini, John McPhee, Brad Binder and Roberto Fenati, as they broke away from the rest. Meanwhile, Kent continued to stroll towards the finish line, seemingly in a world of his own.
The last three laps were the usual cat and mouse games that Moto3 races boil down to. Each rider cutting each other up, making daredevil moves and giving no quarter, making the race fascinating and petrifying in equal measure. Masbou fell from sixth on the last corner, by which point Kent had wrapped up victory by a country mile (or 8.5sec if you want to get technical). Quartararo had the pace out of the last corner to come second, with Vasquez taking third, beating out Bastianini. McPhee finished sixth, placing two Brits in the top six, while Masbou ran his bike over the line (literally) in vain to finish 16th.
Maria Herrera finished a very respectable 17th, while Ana Carrasco came 22nd on her comeback from a broken collarbone.
|1||Danny Kent||2||Fabio Quartararo||3||Efren Vasquez|
|4||Enea Bastianini||5||Brad Binder||6||John McPhee|
|7||Andrea Locatelli||8||Roberto Fenati||9||Isaac Viñales|
|10||Karel Hanika||11||Jakub Kornfeil||12||Andrea Migno|
|13||Philipp Oettl||14||Niklas Ajo||15||Matteo Ferrari|
In terms of the championship, Kent takes the Moto3 lead, with Alexis Masbou dropping from first to fifth. Bastianini, Quartararo and Vasquez all move up.
|1||Danny Kent||41 (+25)|
|2||Enea Bastianini||33 (+13)|
|3||Fabio Quartararo||29 (+20)|
|4||Efren Vasquez||29 (+16)|
|5||Alexis Masbou||25 (+0)|
The clouds got darker for the start of Moto2. Rain was forecast for 1pm local time, planting it roughly three quarters of the way through the race. There were a few drops in the air as the grid assembled.
A helter-skelter start saw polesitter Xavier Simeon drop well back, with Johann Zarco breaking through the field and creating immediate space between himself and the field, with Brit Sam Lowes maintaining his second position despite a poor start. All riders made it through lap one safely, while showing no signs of caution despite the changing weather. Luis Salom and Louis Rossi, though, came off on lap two, putting their bikes into the gravel.
Things quickly settled down into a game of sets - Zarco and Lowes; Franco Morbidelli, Simeon (who recovered from his poor start) and Tito Rabat; Hafizh Syarhin and Dominique Aegerter, with the others falling behind.
On lap four, the rain flag came out in the middle sector, and the wet caught out Lorenzo Baldassarri. The water seemed to be running away from the grass verge onto the track, which is not conducive for good safe racing. It was no skin off the nose of Alex Rins, though, as he punched his way up to fourth. Meanwhile, the front two tore away, opening up a 1.5 second gap to the rest of the field in five laps. This started to come down, though, as Lowes and Zarco started to take snipes at each other.
Aegerter lost his bike on lap seven, but got back on the bike and continued his race, as Lowes started to be pulled back a little into the clutches of the chasing pack, namely Simeon and Rins. Simeon would later get past Lowes, as the Brit started to feel the effect of several crashes over the race weekend. However, the former World Supersport champion doesn't have an ounce of quit in him, and after getting past Simeon again started to close the gap on Zarco.
With six laps remaining, after being pushed along by Simeon, Lowes made his move, getting past Zarco and making the move stick. Suddenly, Zarco looked vulnerable after being comfortable for a lot of the race. The next lap, Lowes underbraked into turn one, just managing to keep hold of the lead. Next lap, Simeon cut under Zarco, both got close going into the next corner and the pair collided - Zarco kept going, but Simeon bailed, taking a nasty slide along the tarmac. All this gave Lowes some breathing space.
The last few laps were comfortable for the front three. A steady performance from Lowes gave him his first win in Moto2. Zarco came second, with Rins third. Defending champion Rabat was fourth, with Morbidelli fifth. An impressive showing from Syahrin gave him sixth.
|1||Sam Lowes||2||Johann Zarco||3||Alex Rins|
|4||Tito Rabat||5||Franco Morbidelli||6||Hafizh Syahrin|
|7||Anthony West||8||Mika Kallio||9||Julian Simon|
|10||Takaaki Nakagami||11||Simone Corsi||12||Thomas Luthi|
|13||Marcel Schrotter||14||Sandro Cortese||15||Alex Marquez|
After two races, Alex Rins, in his first season in Moto2, leads the way by a point to Zarco. Sam Lowes is up to fourth by collecting the full 25 points, while Jonas Folger failed to add to his race win last time out.
|1||Alex Rins||29 (+16)|
|2||Johann Zarco||28 (+20)|
|3||Jonas Folger||25 (+0)|
|4||Sam Lowes||25 (+25)|
|5||Franco Morbidelli||22 (+11)|
The sun finally made an appearance roughly half an hour before the start of the MotoGP race, meaning the track had dried out - except for underneath one bridge at turn three. The effort of drying the track out meant that the race was delayed by 35 minutes.
Andrea Dovizioso got away best from the line, beating everyone to the first corner, with Marc Marquez dropping to second. Valentino Rossi got up to third, while Bradley Smith made a great start to get up to fourth. At turn 11 of lap one, Scott Redding was made to pay for some extrovert racing lines by falling, taking Pol Espagaro with him after underbreaking into the corner
The early stages saw Dovizioso break away, making use of the superior speed of the Ducati, while Marquez, Rossi and Smith made chase. Jorge Lorenzo settled into a comfortable fifth, while the unexpected position of the day went to Aleix Espagaro's Suzuki - notoriously slower than the rest of the field, swapping sixth and seventh with Andrea Iannone's Ducati. Stefan Bradl crashed out at turn one on lap four.
After fending off an initial charge from Rossi, Marquez used his brakes to perfection to get underneath Dovizioso and nip ahead. None of the top four were dropping off though, with Smith managing to hang in with the superior bikes ahead of him while moving further away from Lorenzo, who lost a place at the start of lap seven to Iannone.
At this point, Marquez started to break away from the others, with Rossi and Dovizioso trading second. Iannone was starting to make tracks on Smith, before Yonny Hernandez leaned too far going into the last corner. Rossi eventually got in front, around the same time as Iannone made a move on Smith.
Halfway through, Marquez had opened up the type of lead normally associated with Nicky Hayden and Casey Stoner's days on the factory Ducati, as the others just didn't have an answer to the pace set by the factory Honda. Rossi, Dovizioso and Iannone settled into second, third and fourth, while Lorenzo went past Smith to take fifth. Cal Crutchlow and Aleix Espagaro had a good battle for seventh, with the Honda beating out the Suzuki. 12th place Hector Barbera led the Open Class bikes, with homegrown hero Hayden (in his 200th GP race) behind him, before Jack Miller overtook him.
With Marquez dominating, the key battle was for the podium spots. Rossi was closely followed by Dovizioso, who in turn was closely followed by Iannone, with Lorenzo closing and Smith still clinging to their coat tails. Six laps to go, Dovizioso put a great move on Rossi to take second, with Dovi putting the sword to The Doctor. The two then broke away from Iannone, with the Italian coming under pressure from the other factory Yamaha of Lorenzo, the Spaniard managing to get past with three laps left.
The last few laps saw the gap from Marquez to Dovizioso drop down by roughly a second, but at the ripe old age of 21 Marquez is a veteran now, and he knows when he has to push and when he doesn't, and he took the chequered flag comfortably. Dovizioso had managed to get clear from Rossi to take second (although he had to park up on the in-lap due to running out of petrol), and Lorenzo was well away from Iannone in fourth. Bradley Smith was a comfortable sixth, with Cal Crutchlow seventh. The two Suzukis of Espagaro and Maverick Viñales were eighth and ninth, with Danilo Petrucci in tenth. Barbera clinched top open class bike in 12th, with Hayden 13th.
|1||Marc Marquez||2||Andrea Dovizioso||3||Valentino Rossi|
|4||Jorge Lorenzo||5||Andrea Iannone||6||Bradley Smith|
|7||Cal Crutchlow||8||Aleix Espagaro||9||Maverick Viñales|
|10||Danilo Petrucci||11||Hiroshi Aoyama||12||Hector Barbera|
|13||Nicky Hayden||14||Jack Miller||15||Alvaro Bautista|
Rossi continues to lead the championship, this time to a single point to Dovizioso. Marquez has started his charge towards his third successive title by climbing to third, while Iannone and Lorenzo are separate by a point.
|1||Valentino Rossi||41 (+16)|
|2||Andrea Dovizioso||40 (+20)|
|3||Marc Marquez||36 (+25)|
|4||Andrea Iannone||27 (+11)|
|5||Jorge Lorenzo||26 (+13)|
Performance Of The Day
Danny Kent was superb in Moto3, and Marc Marquez was back to form in the GP class, but the true performance of the day came from Sam Lowes in Moto2. He had this crash in free practice:
That was his second crash of the weekend. He then had another in qualifying before putting in a great show to keep up with Johann Zarco and then get ahead and stay ahead. Full credit to him.
No rest for the wicked, as the championship visits Buenos Aires for round three of the 2015 championship. Join us for full weekend coverage.