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MotoGP Burnt Rubber: Americas Recap

MotoGP wasn't the best show on two wheels yesterday, but it still threw up plenty of talking points.

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Q: When is a race not a race?

A: When Marc Marquez is in America.

Marquez wasn't the only dominant rider at the Circuit of the Americas by any means, but he always does this when he's stateside. More on that shortly.

Missed the race? Have a read of the recap.

MotoGP

Championship standings after round 3

Pos. Rider Bike Nation Points
1 Marc MARQUEZ Honda SPA 66
2 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha SPA 45
3 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 33
4 Pol ESPARGARO Yamaha SPA 28
5 Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 27
6 Hector BARBERA Ducati SPA 25
7 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 23
8 Maverick VIÑALES Suzuki SPA 23
9 Eugene LAVERTY Ducati IRL 21
10 Aleix ESPARGARO Suzuki SPA 21

Race roundup

All the drama happened behind Marc Marquez, who after struggling a little off the line, made the most of a couple of wide lines from Jorge Lorenzo and promptly cleared off. It made for a bit of a dull race, but he wasn't the only one to blame for it.

The aforementioned drama pretty much took out everyone who might have looked interested in a battle. Valentino Rossi was the first of the big hitters to crash, losing the bike all by himself after a poor first lap. If anything, he's probably saved his engine from running in sixth. Dani Pedrosa went into turn one way too hot, hit a bump and took out poor old Andrea Dovizioso.

The same lap, Cal Crutchlow got too antsy on his bike and dropped it while chasing Scott Redding. Seconds later, Bradley Smith fell off in sympathy. Five riders who usually make something happen all out of the race, while the guy who always makes something happen when chasing a race was seconds up the road at the front. Andrea Iannone was all alone in third too, so he couldn't spoil anyone else's race.

I feel so damn sorry for Dovi, who has lost somewhere in the region of 33 points entirely through the fault of others. Iannone served a three-place grid penalty for causing the crash in Argentina, but I doubt Pedrosa will suffer a similar fate as a) he lost the bike on a bump and b) there was no intent to either cause a crash or make a move that wasn't on. Just wrong place, wrong time for Dovi. Respect to Dani for going to Dovi's garage and apologising, by the way. Takes a big man to do that.

It was good to see Maverick Viñales once again get the better of his team mate Aleix Espargaro. As a fully paid up member of the Scarborough Maverick fan club (membership: 1) it pleases me that he is getting more out of the Suzuki, which is a very good bike. I'm not saying that I dislike Aleix, but Mav is such a talent and it is good to see him excel.

Finally, an interesting takeaway for the British riders. Cal Crutchlow is the only rider not to have a championship point yet, after three crashes in three races, while Bradley Smith's 17th ends a streak of 26 consecutive points finishes.

News roundup

Crutchlow has a bit of a mitigating circumstance, though. He's been riding this weekend with gout. Via Crash.net:

"It's painful," he said. "I've had it before, a few times. I think it's linked in with asthma and uric acid being high, I can normally monitor it. With the bad travel this week it was impossible to know what it was. I drank one orange juice and I was finished. It was full of sugar and wrecked me. It's disappointing. It's the worst pain in the world, like breaking a bone. Hopefully I can manage it by tomorrow. It seems to be getting a little bit worse."

He wasn't the only one riding against logic though. Scott Redding was suffering from a stomach bug, and finished sixth. Not bad.

Valentino Rossi has had to deny rumours that he is looking to fill the last slot in the field in 2017 with one of his bikes. His Sky VR46 team are putting a bike into Moto2 next year, and rumours were abound that they would also put a bike in MotoGP, but he has categorically denied this, saying they are focussing their efforts on the Moto2 project.

Speaking of Rossi, he has claimed that it doesn't matter to him if he is partnered with Jorge Lorenzo or Maverick Viñales. However, he did speak very highly of Mav.

It's true for sure that with Viñales will be very hard, because he is very young, and he have a good talent, and I think that he will become one of the top riders of MotoGP very soon.

"I think that Viñales demonstrated today that he can stay with the top guys for all the season. Because we go in a very different track, and in three tracks, the Suzuki with him is very strong. I think he rides so well, he's a clever rider, and he understand the way to use the MotoGP. So I think him together with his bike, they are growing up a lot.

"For me, Suzuki is very good in the chassis, and is similar to Honda when you follow, but very reactive and very precise. Last year, they had a big disadvantage in the engine, but looks like this year, they improve a lot. But is also true that in this case, Viñales is faster than Espargaro, so it means that he finds a way to ride the bike at the maximum."

More bad news from the Circuit of Wales, with another bump in the road regarding funding. Over to Crash again for the details.

The Welsh Government says it cannot underwrite the full £357m of Circuit of Wales but the project will continue with further negotiations, according to CEO Michael Carrick.

Edwina Hart MP has confirmed there is an 'unacceptable risk' for the government to underwrite the entire project having taken external legal advice.

Earlier this week the Circuit of Wales, which has faced a number of hurdles since it was first announced in 2013, expected a decision set to be made on whether the investment of taxpayers' money is classified as state aid – which is illegal under European Union Law for such a project. Circuit of Wales lawyers had maintained the project would provide up to 6,000 new jobs in the Blaenau Gwent area, but without Hart signing-off the project could collapse.

In an open letter from Hart to First Minister Carwyn Jones, the government has been working with the Circuit of Wales for a viable solution without success but is still open to supporting the project if any new investors can be found to help.

"As you will be aware we have been working to support this project for a significant period of time and have already in effect spent around £9m in support of its development," Hart's letter said. "We also explored sharing the risk with several local authorities, and as you are aware that option also failed unfortunately.

"In these last few days we have considered that a guarantee of 80% of the total value of the project may have reduced our risk to an acceptable level, but the circuit have not been able to secure any real private risk capital and so this option has not been possible."

Ministers had initially agreed to provide a grant aid of £16m to support the jobs created by the Circuit of Wales but negotiations faltered when the Welsh Government was asked to provide financial guarantee to the private funding from backers Aviva.

In short, the owners need to find more private money, because the Welsh government cannot and will not guarantee it. It doesn't look great, but where there's a will, there's a way.

One circuit that does have a green light, though, is Phillip Island, with the Australian round remaining there until at least 2026.

Moto2

Championship standings after round 3

Pos. Rider Bike Nation Points
1 Sam LOWES Kalex GBR 47
2 Alex RINS Kalex SPA 46
3 Johann ZARCO Kalex FRA 45
4 Thomas LUTHI Kalex SWI 43
5 Dominique AEGERTER Kalex SWI 35
6 Jonas FOLGER Kalex GER 27
7 Simone CORSI Speed Up ITA 26
8 Luis SALOM Kalex SPA 24
9 Hafizh SYAHRIN Kalex MAL 23
10 Xavier SIMEON Speed Up BEL 12

Alex Rins did a Marquez - started well and swanned off up the road. Sam Lowes recovered from a poor start to catch him and keep tabs on him, but he never really got close enough to make a challenge.

It was a much more assured ride from Sam. A year ago, he'd have pushed the bike to, and probably beyond, its limit to try and chase the lead, but he didn't do that. He rode to the limit, and no further. The 20 points give him the slenderest of championship leads, but a lead it is, and if it is still a one point lead at the end of the year, it is a world championship.

Johann Zarco won the best of the rest battle, finding pace towards the end of the race and pulling a gap in the last two laps after being involved in a lovely tussle with Domi Aegerter, Jonas Folger, Simone Corsi and Tom Luthi. Corsi and Luthi would fall back off the back of the group in the last few laps, but for a while each of the five looked like they'd take third.

Of those, Aegerter looked the most dangerous, and he's come in this year with the bit between his teeth. Corsi is a changed man too, though, and he's doing things with that Speed Up that Sam did last year, riding it well beyond its means.

Four points separate the top four, with Aegerter a further eight back in fifth. This year could be fun.

Moto3

Championship standings after round 3

Pos. Rider Bike Nation Points
1 Brad BINDER KTM RSA 52
2 Jorge NAVARRO Honda SPA 49
3 Romano FENATI KTM ITA 38
4 Niccolò ANTONELLI Honda ITA 31
5 Khairul Idham PAWI Honda MAL 25
6 Andrea LOCATELLI KTM ITA 24
7 Philipp OETTL KTM GER 21
8 Enea BASTIANINI Honda ITA 21
9 Francesco BAGNAIA Mahindra ITA 18
10 Jakub KORNFEIL Honda CZE 18

We had the rarest of things - a Moto3 procession. Romano Fenati managed to finally put a full race together and won in dominant fashion. Like Jorge Lorenzo in MotoGP, Jorge Navarro started well but gave Fenati an opportunity, which he took and never looked back from. The rest was pretty academic.

At least behind them there was a decent battle, which Fabio Quartararo looked to have won for third before his bike gave up on him. Credit to him for finishing the race, but it was a shame for the Leopard team, who finally looked to have made the KTM engine work for them.

As it was, Brad Binder continued his very consistent start to the year to take the last podium spot, having just enough to beat polesitter Philipp Oettl, who put in a valiant show on a much slower bike.

Sympathies in Moto3 go out to Adam Norrodin, whose good qualifying performance was ruined by being completely wiped out by Hiroki Ono, and Niccolo Antonelli, who had recovered from a shocking qualifying performance by rising from 30th to seventh, before losing the bike while pushing too hard on the penultimate lap.

Ride of the day

Part of me is tempted to give it to Andrea Iannone for managing not to fall off or ruin someone's race, but that should be a given in MotoGP. I'm going to give it to Romano Fenati, for similar reasons but with the added caveat of youth.

Next time out

Europe calling! Round four is on that dreamkiller of a track in Jerez, join us in a fortnight.

And finally...

The races in GP weren't too exciting yesterday. However, there was some fun. Here's the highlights of race two in the opening round of the British Superbike Championship. Give Phil a follow for all things superbike.