As the paddock arrives in Austin for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, there’s plenty to talk about in Moto3.
The vast, fast COTA awaits and the lightweight class may once again negate the need for a preview as so much is often won and lost in few so corners, but there could be something to the tea leaves ahead of Texas. Form and feeling can play a big role and there’s only one person who’s had a near-perfect balance of both on the way in: Leopard Racing’s Dennis Foggia.
The last time the Championship took on a venue where points leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and former closest challenger Sergio Garcia (Solunion GASGAS Aspar Team) had a little less experience, back at Silverstone, the podium was a veteran one: Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia VR46 Academy) and Foggia locked it out. Could COTA be a similar story? Getting to grips with the venue certainly adds an extra challenge for Acosta, but recent form, regardless of whether the track was a fresh challenge or familiar hunting ground, is an interesting read.
In the last three races, the average points scored by some of the key players make for a stark contrast. Foggia has averaged 22 points per Grand Prix, hence his move into second overall. Antonelli has taken 17, despite his injury struggles and Fenati, despite his crash out the lead at Misano and his dose of bad luck at MotorLand, still took an average of 9. Acosta, meanwhile, has taken just 4.67, and Garcia just 4.33. If a rate even close to that continues, its very much game on for Foggia in the title charge.
The Italian did point out after his Misano win that he hadn’t ridden the Honda at COTA before, but he must surely remain the favourite as he continues to shine a light on how to escape the melee in Moto3. Antonelli too, and Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team), whose average takes a hit from his mechanical DNF at Silverstone. And then there’s Fenati.
The number 55 has two previous wins at COTA, and they were both breakaways. One purely on pace, and one holding his nerve as then-rival Aron Canet suffered a crash in their duel at the front. If not for his fall from what was genuine poetry, pace and grace in the lead at Misano, surely Fenati would be the favourite? So can he reset, reload and shake off that error to get himself back into contention?
Moto3 is more than a gaggle of veteran Italians with Acosta and Garcia in their midst, however. Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is coming on consistent and was on the podium on our last visit to COTA, Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) had some serious chops mid-2021 before a tougher weekend and big crash at Misano… Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) will want more than his recent finishes, and Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3) another podium following his Aragon rostrum. Can they spoil the party?
5.5km, 17 times, with 25 points on the line. A quarter of those remaining on the table in 2021. Will it be hold, fold or something else entirely as Foggia homes in?