2018 Austin MotoGP Race Result: A Clean Job, As Per Request

Blue skies, hot tarmac, loud engines and a record that was begging to be either broken or extended – the premier class race was shaping up to be either a walk in the park or another drama for Marc Marque. Fortunately for the reigning world champion, he made sure it was yet another demolition job that wasn’t affected in the slightest by the grid penalty he was slapped with after qualifying.

Marquez made it ten wins on American soil and sixth in a row at the Texan circuit with apparent ease. He ended up sharing the podium with the two men who looked most likely to take the fight to him: Maverick Viñales and Andrea Iannone. While the inherited poleman did not cross paths with Marquez after the start and finished a lonely second, Iannone traded blows with the world champion for the early part of the race.

Iannone got the holeshot off the line, Marquez slotting promptly and smoothly into second, with Viñales third. The Repsol Honda man got into his favourite position – the first one – by the end of lap one and predictably wanted to stretch a gap but instead of escaping in the horizon, he took Iannone with him and the duo put over half a second on Viñales. Meanwhile, Valentino Rossi and Johann Zarco attacked Cal Crutchlow for fourth position on lap two in an attempt to keep up with the leaders. Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa were the final men to tag along to the main group, one and a half seconds ahead on the pursuers led by Jorge Lorenzo.

By lap three, Marquez was still trying to shake off Iannone, who was posting fastest laps behind the world champion. The Italian even attacked the Sheriff but Marquez calmly retook his position. One lap later, the gap between the two finally went over the half second mark - which turned into one second by the end of that same lap. Viñales was another second behind the two but was coming under fire from his teammate. Behind them, another Yamaha was trying to reduce a one second gap, Zarco only half a second ahead of Dovizioso, Crutchlow and Pedrosa.

Marquez cleared off at the front, putting almost a second a lap into the pursuers for the next few laps, but the show was ensured as Iannone dropped back into the clutches of the factory Yamahas. Viñales finally made it past the Italian into turn one as they started lap seven, Rossi the next to prepare his attack. Zarco had lost another second behind them with the Ducati and Honda sharks closely on his tail. Crutchlow made the first move but not for the first time in the race, the Brit made a mistake to give those positions back before eventually sliding out in the final corner of lap eight. The LCR rider re-joined the race but had to say goodbye to his championship lead.

Meanwhile, Marquez increased his gap to four and a half seconds by the halfway point of the race and kept it steady as the field was getting a bit strung out. Iannone was one second behind Viñales and Rossi another second behind Iannone, the Yamahas on the softer rear tyre compared to Iannone and Marquez on the hard. Zarco was a further four second down the road, still fending off Dovizioso and Pedrosa (yes, still Pedrosa), with Alex Rins fronting the next group six seconds down. The Suzuki rider did not hold on to that eight position for long as he crashed out at turn 12 and let Lorenzo in clear air – all seven seconds of it.

There was not much to say about the next handful of laps, Marquez monitoring the status quo with fairly large gaps throughout the field and only the battle for fifth of any real interest. Zarco spent most of the race in that position but Dovizioso was nailed to his rear tyre with seven laps to go, while Pedrosa was finally starting to give into the pain. The Spaniard dropped back behind the duo and managed the eight second gap to Lorenzo behind him. His mission was helped by Tito Rabat, Jack Miller and Aleix Espargaro who made it – more or less forcefully – past the Ducati man.

Marquez finally slowed down his gallop with six laps to go and let the gap stay steady at six seconds. Dovizioso really bided his time with his attack on Zarco, the Italian blasting past the Frenchman at the end of the endless straight with four laps left and leaving him with no reply.

Just for the fun of it, the reigning world champion put in a penultimate lap one second faster than Viñales to increase the lead to seven seconds and then did a parade lap that saw it shrink back down as he was performing his celebration.

With the remaining podium spots going to Viñales and Iannone, Rossi finished a lonely but encouraging fourth, a long way ahead of Dovizioso in fifth. Zarco crossed the line sixth, ahead of a heroic ride from Pedrosa, who finished ten seconds in front of the rest of the top ten, made up by Tito Rabat, Jack Miller and Aleix Espargaro.

Despite the less than stellar weekend, Dovizioso is getting quite good at this damage limitation malarkey and leaves Texas with the lead of the championship, albeit by the narrowest of margins. Marquez climbs up to second, missing out on the lead by only one point, with Viñales third, another four points down. Crutchlow drops three positions to fourth, tied on points with Zarco.

Results:

Pos. Num. Rider Bike Gap
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 41'52.002
2 25 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha +3.560
3 29 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki +6.704
4 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha +9.587
5 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati +13.570
6 5 Johann ZARCO Yamaha +14.231
7 26 Dani PEDROSA Honda +18.201
8 53 Tito RABAT Ducati +28.537
9 43 Jack MILLER Ducati +28.671
10 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia +28.875
11 99 Jorge LORENZO Ducati +31.355
12 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati +34.993
13 44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM +37.264
14 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda +39.335
15 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati +40.887
16 38 Bradley SMITH KTM +48.475
17 45 Scott REDDING Aprilia +49.995
18 12 Thomas LUTHI Honda +51.115
19 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda +59.055
20 10 Xavier SIMEON Ducati +59.747
21 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Honda +1'00.513
    Not Classified    
  42 Alex RINS Suzuki 10 Laps
  55 Hafizh SYAHRIN Yamaha 12 Laps
  17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 12 Laps
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Round Number: 
3
2018
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Total votes: 31

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Comments

After all the chaos of Argentina, this was the complete opposite and very straight forward race. Marc bounced back in totally dominant fashion. No one can get anywhere near him around COTA. Though I admire Iannone giving it a go early on in the race! All the top 3 can be happy. Vinales has had an up and down time of things but this was a really solid weekend for him and he's only a few points of top spot.

Iannone taking a deserved podium underlines the guy still very much has the talent and skill to compete in MotoGP, just wish he could do this more often as a fast Iannone is much more fun for the show.

Dovi managed all he could with 5th place, solid damage control. Unlike his team mate who's chances of staying at Ducati after this season are rapidly decreasing with every race. Overtaken and beaten by Rabat and Miller is going to hurt a lot. This is turning out to be an expensive investiment gone horribly wrong for Ducati.

Zarco had a quiet weekend but shows his quality where a 'bad race' is 6th place, underlining he's a consistent front runner now. Crutchlow reverted back to his old self and crashed out. I know it's only one race, but I do think some in the press were getting a little carried away saying Cal could be a title contender after two races. Next few races will be very intriging as we head off to the European part of the year, bring on Jerez!

Total votes: 22

Lightning Q I think you meant to write "This is turning out to be another expensive investment gone horribly wrong for Ducati." ;-)

Good for Tito and Jack but really really not good for Jorge.  Has Jorge given up and just waiting for the ink to dry on the Suzuki contract or has he really hit a wall in terms of adapting himself?  I'm guessing that the bumps at COTA had Jorge reverting to damage control as he still likes his corner speed.

 

Total votes: 29

Whilst I agree, Simon has gotten off to a very rough start and could definitely do with some training in the media world, there are some advantages to his style when he is talking to pit crew members during a hot track.  Listening to Amy throughout the weekend, whilst she holds a greater command of the English language and is more comfortable on the mic, actually proved to be a disadvantage for her when talking to “non-native English speaking” Europeans struggling to hear over the noise of the bikes.  She talked fast, with too many words prior to asking a question and was relatively softly spoken compared to Simon. This lead to her not being heard well and often having to repeat herself.  Whilst Simon can struggle to get the words out that he wants to say, the European crew members seem to understand/hear what he was saying.  He also keeps it quite simple which is an advantage on a hot pit lane.

She definetly has one up on him in the looks department although they rarely crossed to her with a camera.

Total votes: 33

than a pretty face for the job, and unfortunately Ms. Dargan loses in one department what she gains in the other.

But we can all be thankful that Dorna makes the world feed about the race and not the commentators - the focus on announcers as celebrites that happens in some sports is highly annoying.

Total votes: 9

Media people need to know they are not part of the show. Simon's slow style is perfect for an amped up non-native english speaker after they come off the track. Plus, he has been there. I'm not interested in how in depth the mic holder has interpreted the situation out on the track, and I'll bet the rider isn't interested either. Give a platitude, ask a simple question and shut the hell up and let the rider speak. Amy's questions were worse than Dylan's but both suffer the same motor mouth syndrome.

Total votes: 7

Really not all that different than they days where Rossi was just walking away with everything. If this is going to be how the series is this year, get out your pajamas and get ready for a yawn fest..

Total votes: 31

Tilkedrome, boring, yawn, COTA sucks etcetera

At least the race was slightly less predictable than the comments will be...

In any case, good on Iannone for having a go, the bunch up at the start caused big gaps that never closed unfortunately. I sincerely hope Yamaha have learned from last year and back the correct horse this year, the rider that managed to actually beat the Suzuki.

Total votes: 30

I honestly can't remember tha last time we've seen one of these. I do however remember when they were ALL like this.

Total votes: 24

Somehow we were transported back in time -as if paying for sins- and slammed back into the 800cc era!

The last few seasons makes me think that those of us that suffered through that time should be given attendance trophies. 

And while talking about the 800s - i do wish that Gavin was back behind the mic. Maybe Nick too. 

———

From the onboard shots, the Austin track surface seems to be terrible. 

Total votes: 19

Can't qualify without getting a tow from someone that has the ability to put in a fast lap with clear track. 

Total votes: 10

...transmission has been resumed. A big shout out to Dani for a truly heroic weekend. A great salvage job.

Total votes: 9

I actually quite like all the new commentators, except for Simon. He is so painful to listen to. Amy was a breath of fresh air on the COTA broadcast. The main booth guys are really good, with none of the over the top cliched exuberance we used to have to endure (not that I was that bothered by it). Incredibly boring race though. The clouds of dust on those first few laps were insane!!

Total votes: 5