2017 Austin MotoGP Friday Round Up: Honda's Real Weakness, And Much More

It looks like we have been wrong all along. As usual. All this time, we thought it was the engine which was the problem for Honda. This would be a major issue, as engine designs are sealed and fixed for an entire season in MotoGP, at least for factories which have gathered sufficient podium credits to qualify as competitive under the rules. With nine wins last year, and a MotoGP title, Honda definitely does that.

Maybe the problem isn't the engine after all, however. Honda riders are starting to express the apparently unpopular opinion inside HRC that maybe the solution isn't to rejig the engine again by playing around with firing orders, crankshaft counterweights, and other internal moving parts now set in aspic until the season ends at Valencia. Perhaps, they suggest, Honda could take a look at its chassis, and try finding solutions there.

Cal Crutchlow was the most vociferous, though that is an extremely relative term when speaking of rider statements about the Japanese manufacturer they ride for. "I think we need to start working with the chassis a bit more," Crutchlow told us after another hard day at a very physical track. "That's not a comment against my manufacturer, against my team, it's just a comment that we've looked at the engine for the last two years, and I believe that a lot will come from the chassis. Sure, some electronics, but I think it's chassis. I've ridden other bikes, so I know what the chassis is doing. And I believe that's where we could improve a lot. Because the engine is sealed, that's done, it's done and dusted."

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2017 Austin MotoGP Moto2 FP2 Result: A Second Marquez Grabs First

Alex Marquez put another Marquez at the top of the timesheet Friday with a 2'10.601 to lead FP2 by three-tenths of a second. Alex, younger brother of MotoGP's Marc, led much of FP2 and pushed championship leader Franco Morbidelli into second, just in front of Marcel Schrotter (3rd) at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas. 

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2017 Austin MotoGP MotoGP FP2 Result: Marquez Responds And Reminds

Marc Marquez apparently didn’t like the view from second so he returned to the timesheet position of which he is accustomed at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas. The reigning world champion set the best time of the day on his final lap with a 2'04.061 to lead the pack by more that two-tenths of a second at Friday's final practice.

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2017 Austin MotoGP Moto3 FP2 Result: Canet Minds The Gap

Aron Canet ended Friday as the pole-position favorite with another practice at the top of the timesheet at Circuit of the Americas. Canet's 2'16.750 was the fastest time of the day in Moto3 and it kept him seven-tenths clear of second-fastest rider Joan Mir. Romano Fenati continued his strong form with a third-best time. But that still left him nearly a second slower than Canet. 

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2017 Austin MotoGP Moto2 FP1 Result: Oliveira Saves His Best For Last

Miguel Oliveira grabbed the top spot with a fast final lap Friday during FP1 at the Circuit of the Americas Friday near Austin, Texas. Oliveira’s 2’11.606 dropped Franco Morbidelli into second, a mere three-hundredths back. Morbidelli, who has won the first two races of 2017, led for much of latter half of the first practice.

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2017 Austin MotoGP MotoGP FP1 Result: Vinales Continues To Shine

Maverick Vinales took the first step in his effort to rewrite history at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas, with a fast lap that put him more than half a second clear of the the number two rider in Friday's first free practice. And that number two rider? The man who has won four previous races he has entered at the 5.5 kilometer (3.4 mile) track: Marc Marquez.

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2017 Austin MotoGP Thursday Round Up: The Bad New Days, And Talk Of Tires

If you wanted proof that MotoGP fans are smarter and more engaged than most people think (and arguably smarter, more engaged, and better informed than half the journalists in the paddock), then look no further than the section added to the press conference by Dorna featuring questions submitted by fans via Social Media. The questions submitted so far have been funny, interesting, and thoughtful (though of course, it helps that the hardworking Dorna Social Media staff carefully separate the wheat from the chaff beforehand).

They have managed to be revealing, coming at riders from unsuspecting angles and forcing them to let slip things without realizing it. Or sometimes, just gets them talking in a broader context, which helps provide a greater insight into the way the sport has changed, and the direction it is heading. And sometimes, they have just made us all laugh.

The question to Valentino Rossi, asking which of his rivalries should be made into a movie to match Rush, the dramatization of the rivalry between James Hunt Niki Lauda. There is no obvious answer to that question – Rossi's rivalries have been many, fierce, and bitter, with Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Márquez, Sete Gibernau – but Rossi settled on his rivalry with Max Biaggi. "It was funny, because we also had a lot of funny stories out of the track," Rossi quipped.

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2017 Austin MotoGP Preview Press Releases

Previews from the MotoGP teams and Michelin of the Grand Prix of The Americas this weekend:


MOVISTAR YAMAHA EMBARK ON AMERICAN ADVENTURE

After a brilliant 1-2 from Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi in Argentina a fortnight ago, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team arrive at the Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) raring to start the Grand Prix of The Americas this weekend.

Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 18th April 2017

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2017 Austin Moto2 & Moto3 Preview Press Releases

Preview press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:


MARTIN AND DIGGIA THINK BIG AHEAD OF TEXAS GP

Team Del Conca Gresini Moto3 and their riders Jorge Martin and Fabio Di Giannantonio are ready to tackle the third Grand Prix of the 2017 Moto3 World Championship, which takes place this weekend at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.

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2017 Austin MotoGP Preview: Keeping Austin Weird - Can Maverick Beat Marc?

The most remarkable statistic about the Grand Prix of The Americas is surely this: Since his ascent to the MotoGP class, Marc Márquez has won every single race he has competed in at a circuit in the United States of America. He won both US races during his two years in Moto2 as well. In fact, you have to go back to 2010, and Márquez' final year in 125s to find the reigning world champion's last defeat on US soil. America agrees with Marc Márquez, though that does not automatically include all Americans as well.

So after a decidedly mediocre start to his defense of the 2016 MotoGP title, the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas is the right place to get his season back on track. He comes to COTA knowing he can win, and knowing he can win on an uncompetitive machine. That knowledge alone will be worth a tenth or two in Austin, perhaps enough to give him the edge over the all-conquering hero of the hour Maverick Viñales.

Why does COTA suit Márquez so well? It is really hard to say. Perhaps because it offers so many opportunities to make up time on the brakes. First, there's the uphill monster of Turn 1, perhaps the weirdest first corner of the season (fittingly keeping Austin weird). Then there's Turn 11, the hard, sharp hairpin before the long back straight, at the end of which there is Turn 12, another spot requiring hard braking. And at the end of the lap, the two final corners, Turn 19 and Turn 20, which are shorter, but just as fierce.

Perhaps it's not so much the braking, but more the strange section of combination corners stretching between Turn 2 and Turn 10. They are the kind of corners that reward the ability to turn on a dime, and the all-front-end, all-the-time Honda deals well with those. Or perhaps the corners through the Stadium Section, and around the Grand Plaza.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - What is Maverick’s secret?

The youngster is riding the crest of a wave as he heads to Texas, home to the world’s first maverick

Maverick Viñales is enjoying a golden moment; you don’t need me to tell you that. The former Moto3 world champion didn’t just win the first two races of the 69th Grand Prix season, he dominated them, twice coming from behind to win on his own terms.

His talent and daring have been on display since he arrived in the 125 class in 2011, when he barged past that year’s world champion to win a Grand Prix at his fourth attempt, at the last corner. Two years later he secured his first world title, at the last corner.

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2017 Argentina Post-Race Round Up, Part 2: Moto2 & Moto3, of Patience and Temper Tantrums

If the two MotoGP races so far this year have had the kind of internal logic more commonly associated with a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, the Moto2 and Moto3 classes have been rational seas of serenity. Which, come to think of it, also makes them more than a little like the more pious parts of a painting by Hieronymus Bosch. These are topsy turvy times indeed.

When Moto2 first started, it brought the most harrowing and raucous parts of Bosch' work to mind, voracious insanity unleashed on two wheels, which sensible people feared to look at. (Fortunately, motorcycle racing fans are anything but sensible. It is one of their better traits.) But those days are now long gone, and the intermediate class has become processional, races decided almost before they are begun.

A nostalgia for the madness of the past keeps us watching, hoping to see a revival of the old ways. From time to time, the series livens up again, and we start to dream that our prayers have been answered, though such thoughts are usually dashed as soon as they arise. The Moto2 race in Argentina was very much a case in point. It started out processional, then grew tense, then the tension frayed, then renewed, only to end with bang. Literally, in the case of Alex Márquez, who ended a long way up in the air before coming down to earth with a solid thump.

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Subscriber Feature: What Does A Rider Coach Do? Wilco Zeelenberg Explains

The news that Michele Pirro is to serve as a track analyst to Jorge Lorenzo during his time at Ducati was greeted with interest at Sepang. It was unexpected, but looking back at it, a logical and highly sensible decision.

With a total of five Grand Prix titles to his name, why would Jorge Lorenzo want or need a track analyst? Come to mention it, why would Valentino Rossi, with nine Grand Prix titles and 114 victories to his name, employ a rider coach in Luca Cadalora?

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WorldSBK Analysis: The Contrasting Fortunes Of Yamaha And Honda

While it has hardly been surprising to see Ducati and Kawasaki maintain their position as the dominant forces at play in WorldSBK the battle for best of the rest has been an interesting subplot for 2017.

Over the course of the opening three rounds of the campaign the form of Honda and Yamaha has been marked by their stark contrast in fortunes. Last year, Honda had been a podium and front row regular as the season moved into the European swing, and Yamaha looked to be clutching at straws in looking for any positives they could find on their return to the series.

This year has seen their roles reversed, with Yamaha consistently the best of the rest and in position to fight for a rostrum finish. Honda on the other hand have had a disastrous start to the campaign with an all-new Fireblade.

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