Enea reigns supreme in Texas

Qualifying:

Round Four saw the Moto GP riders in Austin, Texas at the Circuit of the Americas. But, did anyone see the Ducati lockout at the front of the grid?

Jorge Martin (Ducati) took pole, with a new all-time lap record (2:02.039) from Jack Miller (Ducati) in second and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) in third. Fourth and fifth went to Ducati riders Johann Zarco and Enea Bastianini.

Race:

With 3.426 miles for just one lap at COTA, the laps are long and the wind was strong. With such an unpredictable season so far, who would come out victorious?

Martin and Miller had a great start but it was Miller who took the lead into the first lap, from Martin, Bagnaia and Bastianini. It was a disastrous start though for Marc Marquez (Honda), who had returned from injuries after missing last race. He seemed to have issues with his launch control and stumbled from his grid position, falling to last place.

COTA. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

Bastianini claimed third place fairly quickly from Bagnaia, Whilst Martin overtook Miller into turn 20 but Miller was in the mood to fight and took the position back immediately.

Marquez was on a mission and already on lap 2 had made up 5 places, claiming 17th place. Miller also knew he had to try and create a gap between himself and second, trying to do this he put in the fastest lap.

By lap 4 of 20 it was another Ducati’s turn to claim fastest lap, this time it went to Zarco, in 5th place.

Having won so many times at this race track, Marquez knew exactly what he had to do, with 17 laps to go he was up to 14th position. Was the win just a dream this time round?

Zarco and Bagnaia tussled for 4th place, Marquez took another step towards the front and Alex Rins (Suzuki) passed Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) for 6th.

Mini battles in the field. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

For the first time in the race the top five Ducati’s were suddenly split by the Suzuki of Rins who took 5th place on lap 6  and in doing so claimed fastest lap. Unfortunately for Alex Marquez (Honda) on the same lap, he crashed out cutting his race short, in sector 2.

Having looked good for some time, Rins took 4th place from Zarco, but Zarco wasn’t going down without a fight. Meanwhile the two factory Hondas switched places and Marquez was now up to 10th position.

With only 12 laps until the end Miller set another fastest lap and Rins and Zarco continued their battle for 4th.

Half-way through – Miller led Martin, Bastianini and Rins. Turn 11 though – Rins passed Bastianini, but Enea fought back for the spot.

Battling for 9th place, Marquez soon claimed it from Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) – last weeks winner.

The Suzuki and Ducati clash continued between Rins and Bastianini with Bastianini coming out the stronger of the two and even taking 2nd place from Martin. Marquez also put in fastest lap – was a podium within reach?

Lap 12 of 20 and Miller continued to lead from the front, from Bastianini, Rins and Martin. While Mir passed Zarco once again for 6th.

Miller leads Bastianini. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

Marquez continued to push even harder, this time beating his own record and taking the best race lap ever (2:03.553). This did not last long as Bastianini, soon after, did an even better lap record of 2:03.521.

The overtakes just kept on coming: lap 14 of 20 – Quartararo finally passed Zarco this time managing to make it stick. Mir passed Martin and Bagnaia took full advantage doing the same. Meanwhile Marquez passed Quartararo for 7th.

Back at the front and Bastianini looked menacing behind Miller. Could Miller make his tyres last for just 6 more laps?

Two laps later and Bastianini made his move on Miller, taking the lead on turn 12, he straight away pushed hard to create a gap between the pair.

Martin continued to go backwards in Austin and found himself being passed by Marquez for 7th place, only to then have Quartararo seize the opportunity to also pass and force Martin into 8th, however, Martin fought back and and re-took 7th from Fabio.

Marquez hunts Martin. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

With only 3 laps until the chequered flag Bastianini created a gap of 1.031 seconds ahead of Miller. While Quartararo and Marquez went back-and-forth for 6th position.

Last lap and the Ducati’s of Bastianini and Miller led Rins in 3rd.

The continued battle for 6th raged on while Rins and Miller decided to battle it out. Miller went defensive but in the end it was Rins who claimed 2nd spot on the podium from Miller.

It was an absolutely heroic race from Marquez, who showed with enough determination, will and grit, he could still fight through the pack to claim a valiant 6th place.

Having now taken a second win this year – Bastianini rode the Ducati to claim victory, securing Ducati’s first ever win at COTA.

Bastianini takes the flag at COTA. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

Top Ten Finishers:

1st

E. Bastianini

2nd

A. Rins

3rd

J. Miller

4th

J. Mir

5th

F. Bagnaia

6th

M. Marquez

7th

F. Quartararo

8th

J. Martin

9th

J. Zarco

10th

M. Vinales

This season is so unpredictable, we now have another new championship leader:

Championship:

1st

E. Bastianini

61 points

2nd

A. Rins

56 points

3rd

A. Espargaro

50 points

4th

J. Mir

46 points

Rins claiming second on the podium, equaled Suzuki’s 500th podium finish in GP history across all classes.

Are we seeing a new championship contender in Enea Bastianini? Who would have predicted such a Ducati dominance? Can they continue in this fashion? We will have to see in round 5.

 

 

(Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website).

Round two at Austria – Sensational!

Qualifying:

Jorge Martin (Ducati) and Miguel Oliveira (KTM) made the top ten and went through to FP2.

It looked like Quartararo had secured pole but Martin put in an all-time lap record (1:22.643) and stole pole in the last few seconds. Pushing Fabio to 2nd, Franceso Bagnaia (Ducati) went to 3rd and Johann Zarco (Ducati) 4th.

The big news that was announced was: Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) had been suspended from racing, due to last weekends antics on track. It was discovered that he had tried to blow up his Yamaha M1 engine, possibly causing serious danger to both himself and others. It is believed that he will not compete in any further races this year.

Race:

The weather was hot and humid in Austria, with massive black rain clouds looming above the track. The race was declared dry and would be a flag-to-flag affair. But, if hopes for a repeat of last weekend’s Austria race were anywhere near, they were soon to be dashed.

Martin sat in pole and got a fantastic launch, quickly leading Bagnaia, Zarco and Quartararo. Immediately, as all four riders went into turn one, the white flags started to wave signifying that bikes could then be swapped.

Bagnaia soon took the lead and Martin and Quartararo tussled for 2nd. Marc Marquez (Honda) was also battling at the front, gaining 4th and then 3rd place by lap 3. By lap 4, he had made it into 2nd. He was the only rider to have a soft (rear) tyre.

By lap 6 all top five riders kept swapping positions, none of them wanting to give an inch.

With the black clouds heavy with rain above them, a few rain drops suddenly started to appear and thunder rumbled in the distance. It was then the time for white and red flags to be waved on turn 2, meaning there was rain in that sector.

Rain clouds above. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Lap 8 of 28, saw Quartararo take the lead, but it was quickly taken back by Bagnaia on the start-finish line. Bagnaia took his chance and soon started to gap from the pack. By the half-way point in the race, there were more gaps appearing between the riders.

Meanwhile the black clouds continued to gather and then drama ensued:

The start of the second part of the incredible entertainment came from Enea Bastianini’s Ducati. The fairing suddenly broke free and flew off onto the side of the track, causing him to have to retire.

Bastianini’s side exposed. Courtesy of: BT Sport Moto GP replay.

Zarco then crashed out of the race on turn 9. Marquez and Quartararo continued to fight with each-other for 2nd place, behind Bagnaia and in-front of last weekends winner in 4th. But an unusual mistake from Fabio meant Marquez was suddenly on the back of Pecco. On lap 22 he took the lead with a sensational maneuver, but Bagnaia was quick to respond and re-took first within seconds. That of course brought Quartararo back into play.

7 laps to go, the rain became heavier, causing Oliveira to crash on turn one. Everyone was becoming more and more tentative into the corners. Jack Miller (Ducati) and Alex Rins (Suzuki) decided that was their moment to enter the pits and swap their bikes. Would this prove to be effective, with very little race left?

Racing like they were on ice, all front five riders continued to circulate on slick tyres and not only that, they continued to fight for positions!

Marquez led Quartararo, Bagnaia, Martin and Binder. Incredible passes upon passes continued. Hands were being thrown in the air, regarding the poor weather conditions but the race was not going to be stopped as it was a flag-to-flag event.

Bagnaia leading Martin. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Then with no hesitation all 5 front leading riders went straight into the pits to change to their wet weather bikes, leaving the KTM rider, Brad Binder alone to lead the race from Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) and Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). Only nine riders remained on slick tyres, on a very wet track.

It was hard to believe that then there was only three laps remaining until the end. Binder was riding an incredibly brave race, skidding and sliding in ever-increasing hazardous conditions.

Marc Marquez crashed out on lap 26, turn 1. He had been riding all-in and unfortunately couldn’t quite pull it off. He managed to get back on the bike and later said “this is my best Sunday of the year”… “it’s only one championship point but I really enjoyed getting it”. Meanwhile, Binder was doing the unthinkable and started to break away from the rest of the riders, with only 2.6miles of track to the line. Could he hold on? Could he bring KTM’s first win at their home track in Moto GP?

The riders behind Binder were racing incredibly slowly – most of them having stayed out on slick tyres. A. Espagaro and Iker Lecuona (KTM) battled for 2nd. Luca Marini (Ducati) passed his brother (46) and Espargaro. But it was the ‘Bagnaia Bullet’ that came from no-where and passed everyone to gain 2nd place! Following close behind were Martin and Mir. Leaving Binder to get his second victory in the premier class. He was given a 3-second penalty for exceeding track limits on the last lap, but he had hardly any control over his bike in the treacherous conditions. The penalty didn’t effect the result though, in the end he managed to gain 12 seconds from his nearest rival, even with Bagania racing through to gain 2nd. Brad’s gamble had indeed paid off!

Podium finishers. Courtesy of: Moto GP (Twitter Account).

The number 33 became the 7th different winner in 2021 and the rookie Martin secured not only his 2nd pole in a row but his 2nd race podium as well.

Top Ten Race Results:

1

Binder

2

Bagnaia

3

Martin

4

Mir

5

Marini

6

Lecuona

7

Quartararo

8

Rossi

9

A. Marquez

10

A. Espargaro

Updated Championship Reults:

1st

Quartararo

181 points

2nd

Bagnaia

134 points

3rd

Mir

134 points

4th

Zarco

132 points

What a race?! The championship hunt is hotting up once again, with Quartararo’s lead now less and Zarco unfortunately dropping to fourth. Bagnaia and Mir are now on equal points. Could we see Mr. Consistency rise in the ranks once again and fight to remain World Number One?

What will we witness next round at Silverstone in two weeks time?

 

 

(Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website).

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