Regular readers may have noticed that my race have been getting longer, and as a consequence, also getting later. So for the next few races, I want to try something different. On Sunday night, I will be posting my initial thoughts and reactions in bullet point form. Later in the week – late Monday or early Tuesday – I will be posting a full, in-depth race report, trying to cover as much as possible. The initial thoughts will be for MotoMatters.com subscribers, the full race report will be for all readers. Send me your thoughts on this change to email@example.com.
The winner of this race has not been in doubt since FP1. Marc Márquez had half a second on the rest of the field in practice, and that translated almost directly to the race. He built a lead of 6 seconds in 8 laps. Nobody was going to catch him here.
Márquez takes over the lead of the championship, and we're heading to Austin. Márquez has never been beaten in a MotoGP race on US soil. History says he will return to Europe with a bigger lead than he has now. That puts him in good shape to kick off the championship.
If the victor was a foregone conclusion, the battle behind him was superb. For most of the race, there were between five and eight riders in contention for the podium. There are lots of ways to go fast around the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit, and the battle for second epitomized that. At places like Turn 7, Turn 13, you could see the variety of lines, all of which worked. It's a great track, which doesn't get used enough.
How close was the field? All six manufactures finished in the top ten, though there was an element of luck involved. If Franco Morbidelli doesn't take out Maverick Viñales – a race incident, as Viñales characterized it, no malice intended – then it would be six manufacturers in the top twelve. And from Valentino Rossi in second to Pol Espargaro in tenth, there were less than 16 seconds. That is a tight field.
Valentino Rossi demonstrated the value of a solid qualifying position. After an outstanding race at Qatar, ruined by the fact he had to start from fourteenth, starting from the second row put him in a much better position to get back on the podium for the first time the Sachsenring last year. "It was crucial," Rossi said in the press conference. "The qualifying is always very difficult because really everybody are able to squeeze the tire and the bike 120% for one lap. If you do 110%, you are in the third row. So starting from the second row is a lot better, but also because I arrive ready. I arrive ready to the qualifying because I have already good pace."
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