The Circuit of the Americas plays host to the third round of the Moto3 world championship, with three men dominating the opening two rounds. Joan Mir (Leopard Racing), after two expert victories in Qatar and Argentina, sits on top of the leader board with a perfect 50 points. The Mallorcan will be looking to become the second youngest rider to win three successive Moto3 races since MotoGP series leader Maverick Vinales managed it back in 2012.
Hot on the heels of Mir is the most experienced man in the class, Britain’s John McPhee. The 22 year old, now racing with the newly formed British Talent Team with the favoured Honda package underneath him, has started the season fine form with two second place finishes. 2016 was a mixed year for the young Scot, despite picking up his maiden win in the monsoon like conditions in the Czech Republic. McPhee looks stronger than ever before in 2017, with factory backing from Honda and guidance from former MotoGP pilot Jeremy McWilliams, a genuine title challenge looks to be on the cards. His best result at Austin came in 2015 where he powered through from 15th on the grid to finish 6th, so if McPhee can replicate his Argentine pole, there’s no reason why we can’t see the determined Scotsman pick up his first win of the season.
It has been a great year for the initials ‘J.M’ so far in 2017 as joining Mir and McPhee on the Moto3 podium on both occasions has been Del Conca Gresini Moto3’s Jorge Martin. His third place in Argentina has taken his overall podium tally to three, however his recent record at COTA has been disappointing, crashing out in his previous two visits to the circuit. We can expect the 20 year old to be fighting for the podium places once again, despite the KTM machines occupying four of the top five places in last year’s race.
The J.M’s were the first riders to stand on the podium in the first two lightweight class races, in the same order, since 1972. (couldn’t find when it was last done in 3 races).
However, there are a whole host of young, hungry and determined youngsters ready to end Mir’s domination. The returning Romano Fenati is the only rider on the grid to have picked up podium finishes in the previous four years in Austin. The Italian sits 5th in the championship and will be looking to add to his 5th and 7th place finishes in the states. Andrea Migno, the highest placed KTM rider in 4th will be hoping to break the Honda stranglehold. German Phillip Oettl is the next placed KTM in championship, lying in 8th position. The Südmetall Schedl GP Racing rider finished 4th in the USA in 2016, so expect him to be right up there this weekend.
Pre-season favourites Enea Bastianini, Niccolo Antonelli and Nicolo Bulega will be hoping to kick start their seasons after a disappointing opening two rounds.
It certainly promises to be another fairing-bashing race, with the big question being can anyone stop Mir and the Honda’s? Let’s hope McPhee can spoil the Spaniards party and carry on his title charge, whilst KTM will be looking to pick up their first rostrum of the season.
Elliott York @journoyork