Can nothing be worse than sitting on the grid with your sunglasses on, listening to your favorite ‘pump me up’ song and gearing to tackle down a 21 lap battle in the Texan sun than a DELAY OF RACE being announced!
That is exactly what happened during yesterday’s MotoGP race. Water from one of the bridges decided it was a good time to just unveil itself all over the tarmac, creating standing puddles that can be of great concern to the riders. 30 minutes of delay was in place so marshal and track workers can do the job the sun wasn’t able to finish, clean that part of the track’s condensation.
Everyone seemingly got off the grid as quickly as they amassed it. Poof, gone, just like that. I can’t imagine being in the proverbial ZONE and have that happen. But alas these guys are the fastest in the world and are if nothing else utmost professionals. When the track cleared and the signs were green the pre-race ceremonies took place once again.
If that wasn’t enough drama to a start of the race then T1’s calamity surely added to it simply because of its nature, being uphill and tight. The order got reshuffled quite a bit but of course the Ducati of Dovinzioso took the whole shot with both Marquez and Rossi in tow. What could be there strategy? Most likely let the Ducati lead to find the driest lines and navigate how that wet T3 under the bridge section will play out.
Both the Honda and Yamaha riders knew that if the Ducati could manage a gap leading to the long back straight then they may never have a chance to ascertain victory. Marquez with this in mind made an attack very early on, in lap 4, to rid himself of Dovi and Rossi altogether, letting them duke it out. A much needed win for the Spaniard rider as he started to push, not at 100%, but push to a gap of nearly 2 seconds from the pass.
Rossi on the other hand would wait until a few laps later to make his move, a move that saw him move into 2nd position. If the flag had dropped it would have seen him have a much more comfortable lead in the standings but this was not to be the case. Towards the last stage of the race we can see that Rossi was having tire troubles as he did in last year’s race. Dovi took full advantage of this and made quick work in regaining the position taken from him. If you watched this pass on Rossi from Dovi you could’ve sworn the Ducati just PULLED LENGTHS away from the Yamaha from the quick right-left flick. Press asked what happened in this turn if the Ducati was faster or the Yamaha was slower. Rossi admitted that he was nursing the front tire much like the rest of the men he was battling with and had to take that corner slower, Dovi backed this finding and affirmed that he took advantage of a slower Rossi.
This would be the finishing order of the rostrum, Marquez pulling a four second gap to the front to lay claim to victory, thrice now in the house of Austin. Rossi leads Dovi in the championship standings by 1 point, even if it’s early days in a long championship those that collects the most points early on usually fare better later in the season.
Lorenzo battled with bronchitis over the weekend and couldn’t put up a firm fight with the top 3, pulling his #99 bike back into the pits in 4th position. Iannone, coming off a fresh podium at Qatar finished fifth also with concerns of losing the front on his Ducati. Bradley Smith, now more mature and trusting of his Tech3 team, finished the day top satellite bike, ahead of fellow countrymen Cal Crutchlow. His teammate, Pol Espagaro, was unfortunately punted off on the first lap by former Moto2 rival Scott Redding in a questionable first lap dive up on the inside.
Interesting fact after the race was that both factory Ducatis ran out of fuel and had to park it on the side. Dovi was right before or after T1 on the cool down lap. Does this mean all the notion of ‘we are not worried about fuel consumption’ from the factory after it got its fuel concession cut from 24l to 22l becoming a real problem? Sure having it cut off right after the race could be genius planning, but after T1 is cutting it very close to the knife’s edge. Will Gigi have the problem fixed before the rounds at tracks where it thirsts for gas? He has a couple of months to figure out this problem and it will be interesting to see.
No break as next up is Argentina! Can’t wait!