There are only three certainties in life: Death, taxes, and Marc Márquez winning any MotoGP race organized in the United States of America. That has been true since the Spaniard moved up to MotoGP, and for both years he spent in Moto2 as well. There is something about America which makes Márquez nigh on invincible. Is it the anticlockwise tracks? Is it the low grip and tricky surfaces found at the circuits? Or is high fructose corn syrup Márquez' equivalent of Popeye's spinach?
MotoGP went to Austin hoping this might be the year when things changed. With good reason: the racing in the series has been getting closer and closer almost on a race-by-race basis. Valentino Rossi finished just 0.6 seconds behind race winner Andrea Dovizioso at Qatar, but he crossed the line in fifth place. In Argentina, the seven riders fighting for second place were separated by 3 seconds on the penultimate lap. The Ducati Desmosedici GP19 is faster and better than ever, the Yamaha M1 has made a huge step forward since 2018, and the Suzuki has consistently been in the hunt for podiums since the middle of last year.
That is all very well and good, but the margin of Marc Márquez' victory in Termas de Rio Hondo suggested that ending Márquez' reign in the US would require something extraordinary to happen. The Repsol Honda rider had a 12 second lead going into the last lap in Argentina. The Honda RC213V had the highest top speed in both Qatar and Argentina, the bike having both more horsepower and better acceleration. Then, during qualifying, Márquez took pole – his seventh in a row at the Circuit of the Americas – with an advantage of more than a quarter of a second over Valentino Rossi. Normal service had been resumed.
MotoGP’s aero war is raging, with Aprilia the latest to fit a swingarm device, so what’s next for the rules? Should aero stay or should it go?
These words you are reading are not part of a MotoGP article, they are the opening sentences of the first chapter of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.
On the day after the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas, the Paddock Pass Podcast crew gathered in the front room of their Airbnb to talk over the events of an exciting weekend. Jensen Beeler, Neil Morrison, and David Emmett debate Suzuki's first win, the problems at Honda, the future of the US round of MotoGP, and much more.
We kick off the podcast singing the praises of Alex Rins and Suzuki, after the Spaniard took Suzuki's first win in MotoGP since 2016. We talk both about how highly rated Rins is by his fellow riders, and how he is regarded as a genuine title threat, but also about how the Suzuki improved to become competitive.
We then move on to ponder the situation Honda found itself in at Austin, with Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow crashing out, while Jorge Lorenzo suffered another mechanical issue. We also discuss the outstanding performances of both Valentino Rossi and Jack Miller, asking whether Valentino Rossi could finally win a tenth MotoGP title, and if Miller can take the second factory Ducati seat alongside Andrea Dovizioso next year.
After one chilled and one deep-frozen WorldSBK outing since the last column we still have red-hot Bolognese as the only meal available in the WorldSBK race-winning restaurant.
It may have a liberal sprinkling of Manchego cheese on top, in the form of the super-fast and utterly faultless Alvaro Bautista, but so far the winning recipe in WorldSBK has been mostly about a game-changing machine and the people who make it sing at castrato engine frequencies all the way to 2019 perfection.
Proof that a well-set-up Ducati Panigale V4R is peerless right now came in two ways in Assen; an event so cold that even well-padded people known for their polo-shirts-with-everything-attire had to fiddle with zips on puffa jackets on their way out of the media centre.
Firstly, when the Aruba.it Ducati team decided to try to give Bautista more of a potential advantage for the future, their attempts to take his bike setting into a potentially more golden point on the compass met with disaster. In any direction of change, it seemed. Disaster was their rider’s word, not mine.
Alvaro Bautista continued his unbeaten run of success at Assen. The time might be nearing for Ducati to evaluate the costs of such success
On Sunday Alvaro Bautista won his 11th straight race in WorldSBK. He’s unbeaten in 2019 and he’s well on his way to adding a Superbike title to his 125GP crown. The Spaniard is riding with incredible confidence and consistency and he’s a joy to watch. That is unless you’re the financial directors of Ducati. The costs of his success are racking up and he’s put himself into a very rare position - he’s potentially winning too much!
In racing all success is measured in numbers. Number of wins, number of podiums and number of pole positions. The contracts for riders reflect this. The more you win the more you make. Incentives have always been heavily rewarded and no doubt Alvaro Bautista’s contract is structured in a similar way.
In conversation with riders and team representatives in Assen the general figure bandied about for race wins was €25,000. Of course with the Superpole race having been introduced for this season it’s possible that the ten lap shootout has a different value attached to it. Some riders said they aren’t paid bonus money for the Superpole races and others are on the same as any other race.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Michelin after Sunday's race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas:
BRILLIANT RINS WINS HIS FIRST MOTOGP RACE IN TEXAS
Press releases from the organizers and some of the teams after the Sunday races at Assen:
Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas:
Have Race Direction suddenly decided to have a crackdown on jump starts? After a long period without a single jump start, we suddenly have three in two races. Look at the video, and it's clear the reason Race Direction issued two more penalties for jump starts is because two riders moved on the grid in Austin. A random statistical distribution tends to be lumpy, not smooth, and so random events look like they are clustered together. And at the point of the race where the riders are most intensely focused, occasionally mistakes will occur. Sometimes even simultaneously.
The two culprits in Austin were Joan Mir and Maverick Viñales. Mir's infraction was the smallest, barely moving and then almost coming to a stop. He was quietly seething after the race, angry at a penalty he felt he didn't deserve, and at the disproportionate nature of the penalty for the tiniest infraction in which he didn't gain an advantage, like Cal Crutchlow in Argentina. "It ruined my race," the Suzuki Ecstar rider said. "All the weekend for this. It ruined my whole weekend. When I see my lap times every lap and the pace that I had, it makes me even more angry because sincerely we had today a great pace to fight for the podium or top five, sure."
It's Subscriber Raffle time again, and another prize is on offer for MotoMatters.com site supporters. This month's prize is a set of Repsol Honda bluetooth earbuds, given to us at this year's launch of the Repsol Honda team, to commemorate 25 years of the partnership between Honda and Repsol. The charging box containing the earbuds has the Repsol Honda team logo on it, and a 25 years logo on the reverse.
Standings after the US round of MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas:
Moto2 standings after the race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin: