2016 Austin MotoGP Race: Four Just Became A Perfect Ten

Marc Marquez made it abundantly clear Sunday that the idea of other riders encroaching on his American dominance is simply a mirage in the Texas heat. Marquez won the MotoGP race at the Circuit of the Americas by six seconds to give the Spaniard a perfect 10 consecutive victories on American soil -- including the last four in a row in Austin.

Jorge Lorenzo made up for his crash last week in Argentina by taking a convincing second with his own finishing gap to third place nearly as large as between he and Marquez. And Andrea Iannone, the man with the most to prove here after two crashes and no points in the first two races, brought home a lonely third in the accident-marred race that saw Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa all crash out and three other riders go down but remount to finish.

Maverick Vinales (4th) and Aleix Espargaro (5th) gave Suzuki its best two-rider finish since the company re-entered MotoGP in 2015. It also marks Vinales best-ever MotoGP finish.  Scott Redding capped a promising weekend with sixth place after a mid-race battle with Pol Espargaro (7th). Michele Pirro, a former MotoGP racer and current Ducati test rider filling in for an injured Danilo Petrucci, took home an impressive eighth in his first-ever race at the 5.5 km (3.4 mi.) circuit. 

Hector Barbera took ninth, six seconds clear of Stefan Bradl. Bradl's 10th place showing makes it two weeks in a row that Aprilia has earned a top-10 finish -- the first time the company has managed that since it returned to MotoGP in 2012 as a claiming-rule team. 

The Race

The contest began in warm, dry and cloudy weather. Conditions appeared ideal -- at least a distance. On the track, the surface was not so predictable, riders later said. In warm-up, Jorge Lorenzo had an unsual front-end crash at Turn 5. And at the race's start, desparate to get in front of Marquez, Lorenzo charged into Turn 1 -- a corner that proved problematic to other riders -- but the Yamaha man ran wide and Marquez slipped underneath to take the lead.

Loris Baz wasn't so lucky. He fell at the first corner and remounted.

Two laps later, it was Rossi's turn for a front-end crash. The Italian, who got swamped by the pack after his front-row start, lost the front at downhill and fast Turn 2, his race ended before the fourth lap. The no-points finish drops Rossi into third in the 2016 championship, behind Lorenzo and Marquez. 

At the front, Marquez began to pull away and Lorenzo made quick work of Andrea Dovizioso, taking the second position and immediately opening a gap. Behind Dovizioso, Pedrosa also was closing -- a situation that later would end poorly for the Ducati rider. With 15 laps remaining, a charging Pedrosa lost the front under braking at the uphill Turn 1. His bike slammed to the pavement and hit the side of an unaware, Dovizioso who was in third place at the time. 

Both bikes ended up in the gravel. Pedrosa was able to remount and briefly re-enter the race but he retired shortly after. And Dovizioso, for the second race in a row, was taken out by another rider while in a podium position.

The crash party wasn't done. Two laps later, Cal Crutchlow went down at Turn 11 and was immediately followed into the trap by Bradley Smith. Both riders remounted and finished in 16th and 17th respectively. Crutchlow's crash in Texas leaves him with no points in 2016. 

With a third of the race remaining, the line of riders had begun to string out along the 20-turn, 5.5 km circuit. Marquez had already established an eight-second gap over Lorenzo but the same processional effect continued throughout the grid. At the race's end, nearly every rider had considerable space in front and behind at the long, fast track. Among the 17 finishers, only Eugene Laverty (12th) and Tito Rabat (13th) arrived at the line within a second of each other. 


Pos. No. Rider Bike Time / Diff. 
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 43'57.945
2 99 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha 6.107
3 29 Andrea IANNONE Ducati 10.947
4 25 Maverick VIÑALES Suzuki 18.422
5 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Suzuki 20.711
6 45 Scott REDDING Ducati 28.961
7 44 Pol ESPARGARO Yamaha 32.112
8 51 Michele PIRRO Ducati 32.757
9 8 Hector BARBERA Ducati 34.592
10 6 Stefan BRADL Aprilia 40.211
11 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Aprilia 45.423
12 50 Eugene LAVERTY Ducati 47.127
13 53 Tito RABAT Honda 47.426
14 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ Ducati 51.19
15 76 Loris BAZ Ducati +1'12.929
16 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda +1'19.252
17 38 Bradley SMITH Yamaha +1'28.036
Not Classified    
  26 Dani PEDROSA Honda 10 Laps
  4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 15 Laps
  46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 19 Laps


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Alright so many front washouts, you have got to start asking yourself if it's the riders or the tyres. I'm starting to think it's the tyres by now. They seem to just drop all grip suddenly when a rider puts a little more pressure than usual on them. Rossi went way wide in turn 1, tried to keep the same speed through 2 but it just folded on him. Same for Crutchlow and Smith. Smith blamed oil on the track but I don't buy that. Pedrosa... I don't know about that one. Just went in too hot.

All those crashes made the second part of the race a bit uneventful, but don't let that take away from the masterclass Marquez performed, again. He's got a healthy gap to take to Europe where he knows the Yamahas and specifically Lorenzo will come for him. Now that Iannone has learned to finish the season is truly getting underway...

All the talk pre-season was that the Michelins did not tolerate anywhere near the same level of trail-braking as the Bridgestones, so your question has 2 answers...

1. Yes, it's probably the tyres, and

2. It is the riders (in that they are failing to adapt to the new style of riding demanded by the new tyres - most particularly the front).



or if it's the riders not yet being used to the tyres? I which case wouldn't that make it one and the same, i.e., rider? This was the prediction on most sites way way back when the tests first started. The other prediction being that the more experienced Bridgestone riders would likely take longer to adjust. Not sure if the latter is supported by the data.

No one seems to be suggesting a huge variability between tyres, or at least not yet.

I start to worry : Meregalli said that VR bike had a clutch problem. And it seems that JL crash in warm-up was due to some problem too. Last week VR second bike was not working properly.... what's going on in that garage?

VR46 said he burnt the clutch getting off the line, so it was his fault, not the garages! Didnt hear that there was a problem with JL99s clutch in practice?

Feel very sorry for Dovi, however it is ironic that he only got knocked out by Dani's bike because he himself had run wide.  If he was on the normal line into that corner, Dani's bike would have missed him by a couple of feet.  Not saying it was his fault or anything, just unfortunate.

Why wasn't Pedrosa's crash into Dovi investigated? Where is the consistency AGAIN?
Surely people can say it is a racing incident but the fact is that he unnecessarily came in too hot, lost control and catapulted his bike into Dovi. For the same mistake, Iannone got a penalty point plus 3 places backwards on the next grid. At least Dovi still got 2 points when Iannone did a similar thing. 
26 could've stayed on the outside, run his bike wide and try again on the next lap but insisted to take a risky maneuver early in the race.

I would really like to know the difference between the 2 situations, why 1 gets punished and the other one gets away with it.

Sometimes it is hard to tell if a poster is serious or just being provocative.  I'll try to explain the difference as I see it. 

From the context of the race, Iannone had already hit two other riders, and had made several aggressive passes on Dovisioso.  It is possible that he just made a mistake under braking causing the incident, but it looked like he was making a very aggressive, last-ditch, desparate effort to pass his teammate.  Since the pass had extremely little chance of success, and in conext of his actions throughout the race, he was penalized.

In context, there was no indication that Pedrosa was making a banzai, ambition outweighing talent, desperate move.  Both Dovisioso and Pedrosa overcooked the corner.  Dovisioso ran wide, and Pedrosa fell down.  The were not in close proximity when Pedrosa lost control  Had Dovisioso taken the corner on the proper line, Pedrosa would have missed him.  All the indications, in context, strongly indicate that this was merely an aggregation of unfortunate circumstances, ie "a racing incident".

Whether you agree or not, at least you hopefully understand why some of us see why race direction made the decisions they way they did.

Great interpretation, good balance of perspective, and healthy grammar. Keep it coming AnOldTimer :)

I see a big difference between the incidents and those involved.

Iannone was noted as a sometime over aggressive rider in Moto2, he was specifically intending to overtake Dovi and made an optomistic effort that was likely to lead to only exactly what happened. I suspect there was going to be strong contact even if he had not lost control. He was also involved in an incident at the first corner that he contributed to.

Pedrosa inquestionably made a mistake that led to him losing control, just as all the others that crashed did. However it didn't appear that Pedrosa was trying to overtake Dovi at that corner though he may have tightened his line as a response to Dovi running wide. Since 2006 Pedrosa has a reputation as a fair and predictable rider.

For me it was an unfortunate racing incident that the off line Dovi was in the way of the RCV that had already fallen.

I am almost certain it was investigated but this was just the case of Dani braking too late not the case of one rider using the other as a bowling pin

Pedrosa didn't even try to overtake Dovizioso. The two situations don't compare.

Are you serious? I guess you did not see both races.
Dovi itself answers you:

"I know Dani from many years. Dani is not a kamikaze, trying to overtake you every time on the brakes.

"[It] is bad, he made a mistake and this is the reality. But from Dani is different compared to Argentina."

Still want to ask why Race Direction didn't act? Cmon, lets be serious...

The situations are quite different. AI went in too hot, diving up the inside trying to make a pass stick that anyone could see wasn't going to work.  His overly ambitious manuveur took them both out.  Dani wasn't trying to make a pass.  He was well behind Dovi and simply lost control of the bike.   Once the fairings hit the ground the bike stopped decelerating and simply kept sliding in it's original direction; right into Dovi.   

  To put it simply: Iannone was attempting a risky, overly ambitious move that was destined to fail, which also took out his teammate; meanwhile Dani wasn't trying to pass, he simply lost control coming over the rise into turn one.  Totally different circumstances.

Jakke has it correct, this should have been investigated and Pedrosa should have gotten a point.  Is that not the entire reason for the penalty system to exist?  Riders that seldom make mistakes will not build up points enough to have a real penalty and riders that frequently make mistakes will.

How Pedrosa handled the incident (like a true gentleman) or the fact that it was not an aggressive pass attempt would mitigate the penalty but I was disappointed that there was not even an incident investigation during the race.  One rider messed up and someone else suffered.  At least make a nod to consistency and go through the motions.


Crutchlow was the most fortunate; three feet and Smith's bike would have taken him out at the knees.

I found his little jump a really telling one.

Once on his feet, he saw Smith's bike passing by and he instinctively jumped. However his jump was not even 1 foot tall and it came way too late, to a point that it seemed ridiculusly out of place. And as you said, if that bike would have hit him that would have been nasty...

To me that little jump reminded me how "alien" this sport is. That a human body, with its extremely slow reaction times and its very low resistance to high energy impacts, can climb into these monstruous machines and tame them to a point to lap consistently should be impossible.

Yet, we sit every fortnight to see it happening with total normality.

Weird race eh? When was the last time we saw a something like that? That was too many front end crashes to not be a tire concern. A stiffer carcass provided - was that just the rear? Likely this weekend a front tire of different and less feel. I seem to have an easier time being patient with Michelin than lots of folks, but this looks disconcerting doesn't it?

Marquez - the kid is FAST. Have to hand the guy some respect and appreciation.

In two weeks we arrive in Europe. Looking fwd to Jerez with hope of some settling in to a new normalcy.

I think this round should have been a good one because there were so many new faces looking promising and even the old man looked pretty good. But the race ended up junk. Those with promise crashed out, leaving a widely processional finish. In this instance it was probably a technical issue about the Michelin front tire. I don't really know anything, but watching the MotoGP video it appears to me that many riders trying to push a lap time ended up with a sudden lowside. Even club racers know that about Michelin race tires. No warning, they just wash out. I am confident that MotoGP riders will force a change in how Michelin builds tires. Hopefully the next round, since we all know they build tires race-to-race. But I wish the spec tire rules were dropped. Obviously I feel Michelin needs competition to make the best tire.

The True Goat, that is - at the ripe old age of 23.

Just give him 13 more years. As long as his risk-on approach or the Valeban doesn't get him he will eclipse ALL records. Maybe that's why him destined to be 2nd has gone heavy on the offensive...

Sounds like the Michelin rear and the Bridgestone front would provide ultimate grip. Maybe Dorna need to move to a 2 supplier spec Front & spec Rear arrangement. 

Jokes aside, I just wonder if the Bridgestone rear development plateaud to allow the front to work so well. If theres a point you can cross where its too good. How much of the michelin front problem is due to the reportedly insanely good rear, and how much is due to the front itself.

Eitherway dont think you can fully blame the riders. Michelin have a lot of work to do on that front, it was 2 or so seconds off the lap record last year as well. Lot of factors year to year but that is a considerable gap.

I noticed that the race this year was full 10 seconds slower than the last. Bradley Smith's 6th position time last year would be the race winning time this year. The difference translates to about half a second per lap. Not trying to make a point... just an observation.

Redding's pace dropped off a lot towards the end of the race. He was 2 seconds behind the Suzuki pair (and gaining) with about 8 laps to go and then started dropping off by a second per lap. This tells me that the Ducati issue of not lasting the whole race distance on the tires has carried over to Michelins as well (despite them being on the same tire allocation as Honda/Yamaha this year).

Ok, what have we learned post tire/electronics tests so far? 

From the wags, pundents and those that draw conclusions from a single race result... it appears to be this:

In Qatar, the race was run 7 seconds quicker than in '15... only Iannone fell and most believe that that fall was down to hitting a "dew covered/afftected" painted line... The tires were faster at the end of the race than at the beginning... Lorenzo was Lorenzo and most everyone was hailing him the odds on title favorite and the Michelins "brillant"... 

Two short weeks later... in Argentina... on a little used, dirty track, known to have chewed up B-stones in previously years... too many variables due to the "flag to flag" race to draw "faster or slower" race time comparisons... but we did find out that... Jorge can't ride a lick... the Michelins suck, at least where Ducatis are concerned, Honda has sorted out all its ills and Marc is now the odds on favorite to win the title... 

This past weekend at Austin... Marc is a RACING GOD... Honda is the best bike on the grid (even though there was only one in the top thirteen finishers)... and the Michelin front tire is garbage, punts riders off with total disregard to what the rider or bike is doing and goes slower than molasses in the winter...

Ok... so where are we... really? Are the Michelins faster or slower? We've seen both instances... Do they handle well or do they "punt riders off"? Again, we've seen both... Do they come apart or last race distance? And again, we've seen both situations...

Here's my 2 cents worth... which along with 4 bucks or so, will get you a cup of joe at Starbucks...

In another thread, pre Qatar, I offered that I thought that it would take a few races... say, through at least, Jerez, to see how things are shaking out, bike/rider/title chase wise... as I felt that there were just too many variables in play, early on, to draw reasoned conclusions... And I thought then and still think, that the riders and teams would slowly but surely, make adjustments and come to grips with the changes.... I still stand by that assesment... I think that there are just too many variables to say X, Y or Z is going to happen and (insert rider name and bike here) is going to sweep the season and run off with the title... Looking at just the race winners so far... Jorge typically runs well at Qatar... not so well at Argentina & Austin... Marc does ok at Qatar and blazes at Argentina (even if he did roast his B-stones in 2015 and that allowed Rossi to catch and pass him late) and Austin... 

The title chase would, obviously be far less "clear" and much tighter at this point if: 1) Jorge had not fallen at Argentina (and no, he was never going to win). 2) Dovi hadn't have been "bowling balled" at Argentina and Austin. 3) Rossi had not fallen at Austin. 4) Iannone had actually finished the first two races.

We do know that Michelin is doing everything in their power to give the riders the best possible tires that they can... But it is really unfair to compare the first year back (and don't have race data from any track in the last 7 years/don't have complete test data from certain tracks. AND have never been part of a MotoGP race at Arg. & Austin, since they came on the calendar after Mich. left.) Michelins to B-stones that were the results of more than ten years continuous developement, racing and data gathering... For anyone thinking that supplying "perfect" tires is easy... consider that there are five different makes of bikes, in eight different engine development/output configurations (don't forget the Honda, Yamaha and Ducati sattelite teams!!) and twenty three DIFFERENT riders that each want a DIFFERENT set of characteristics (such as grip level, cornering and braking feel) in THEIR tires... AND they have to be "perfect" at 18 different tracks with 18 different tarmac suface types and conditions... and on 18 different race day/weekend weather situations... Yeah... I can knock those out in my garage overnight... no problem... 

The only thing that I have been able to see conclusively, so far this year... the only "answer" to how the riders/bikes will deal with the new tires and spec electronics over the rest of the season that I am certain of is... that Jorge can still get his holeshot launches with the new spec ECU... He's done it at all three races so far... That's it... that is the only CERTAINTY that the first three races have shown me... 

Now that they're headed back to Europe... I'm fairly sure that we'll see something nobody thought was possible and everything will be turned upside down again... and (insert rider name here) will be the "true" title favorite... or... things start to hit a more normal stride and there is a hotly contested title fight... or Marc really is a racing God and Honda is the best bike... or Lorenzo does what Lorenzo does and clears off... Or...????

Again... just my 2 cents worth...