Welcome to the beta version of the new Women & Golf website. Our web monkeys are still hard at work and welcome your feedback.  


MotoGP Austin: Race preview

MotoGP saddles up in Texas as Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez returns to the fold with a nearly unbeaten record at Circuit of the Americas.

The wait is over and we have the answer: the King of COTA is on his way. Marquez will be back in action at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, ready to rodeo and recovered from his Indonesian GP crash. For the rest of the grid, that could spell a very different weekend ahead as the number 93 has only once failed to win at the venue in MotoGP. It staged his rookie win, he was undefeated until crashing out in 2019, and he's qualified on pole at the venue for every single event since 2013 – except last year. But then, last year he still went on to win by some margin. He remains, then, the favourite... but there's plenty more to talk about too.

First mention has to go to Aleix Espargaro and Aprilia. There was only one factory on the grid who hadn’t won in MotoGP and one rider who had never taken a Grand Prix win in any class, so it was a truly historic feat for man and machine. It was also – stats and grand narratives aside – just an objectively very impressive performance. Few could go with the number 41 out front, with only Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin in the battle and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins and Joan Mir shadowing the duel. Aprilia teammate Maverick Viñales also took his best result since moving to the factory by far in seventh, so the question now is… what do the Noale factory have in the locker for Texas?


Suzuki, too, will be interesting – Rins arrives not only fresh from the podium but also as the only non-MM93 winner at the track. Ever. Can he bridge that gap that kept him just outside striking distance in Termas? His teammate, 2020 MotoGP Champion Mir, will also be looking to do the same, with the number 36 having just missed out on the rostrum. He did say, however, that he’s got that 2020 feeling back – and that a little more time may have allowed a little more attack in Argentina. Team Suzuki Ecstar also lead the teams’ championship after another interesting race day tango, and have been one of the most consistent teams and factories on the grid, so promises of progress shouldn’t be taken lightly for their rivals.

For Ducati, meanwhile, it’s returned to somewhat of a modern classic for the moment: they lead the constructors’ standings thanks to three different riders in the first three races. First it was Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP), then Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) and now Martin. The obvious omission is the Ducati Lenovo Team. Argentina proved a tough weekend overall for both Pecco Bagnaia and Jack Miller, and Miller himself offered a slightly heart-breaking stat on social media after coming home in 14th – having started 14th – saying it’s the first race he can ever remember taking part in where he didn’t overtake a single rider. But he has had some very good form at COTA, and will be confident of a turnaround.

Bagnaia, meanwhile, already bounced back on Sunday, at least into the top five after a really tough first day. That was an impressive show of mettle, and the Italian also has form in the lone star state having been on the podium there last year and qualified on pole. Will more familiar and recently-tilled turf prove a key positive for the Italian?

Martin will want to keep his front-running form having taken a front row in every race so far despite then failing to convert it into points or podiums until Termas, and Zarco will want to bounce back. Mooney VR46 ’s Luca Marini nailed Saturday and then slipped down the order on Sunday, also ultimately beaten by the other side of the box. Marco Bezzecchi is now the leading rookie in 2022 after taking that impressive ninth place, with the Italian having shown flashes of brilliance already but not having been able to quite put it all together on Sunday until Argentina. Can he keep it pinned at COTA?

Red Bull KTM’s Argentina, meanwhile, was a mixed bag but not a bad one considering the newest factory on the grid’s level of experience at the venue – and the fact that Brad Binder had never actually ridden it before in the premier class. He took sixth and remains second in the riders’ standings, seven points off Aleix Espargaro at the top. Teammate Miguel Oliveira had a tougher weekend that went through Q1 to P13 in the race, but there were positives – and with Yamaha and Honda continuing to have a more difficult season, the team and constructor standings remain very healthy for the Austrian factory even as Aprilia, Ducati and Suzuki pipped them in Argentina.

Over at Yamaha, the feelings will be less mixed. Monster Energy’s Franco Morbidelli and WithU RNF’s Andrea Dovizioso both suffered issues at Termas – the former a puncture and the latter a technical problem – so there at least, there’s a could have been and Darryn Binder continues learning the ropes. Reigning champion Fabio Quartararo completed the race with nothing actually going wrong on his Monster Energy M1, but like Qatar, did not come home with the position he wanted – and not for lack of trying. The number 20 went backwards off the line and backwards some more before eventually taking eighth, explaining that rear grip was the biggest hurdle. Last year at COTA he was best of the rest behind what was essentially Marquez’ private Marquez vs Marquez challenge at the front, so it will be interesting to see what has changed – or hasn’t – as we return to Texas only a few months later…

For Honda, finally, the return of Marquez likely marks a return to high hopes following an excellent debut for the new RC213V in Qatar and then a more difficult two rounds. Repsol rider Pol Espargaro recovered well from being outside Q1 to fourth on the grid before crashing out in Argentina too, showing there is speed even if everything didn't go to plan on Sunday. Espargaro, as well as LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez, will want more from this weekend though... so will having the COTA benchmark back in the saddle help Honda as the new bike gets fettled in?

All will be revealed on Sunday as MotoGP takes on Texas, with another 25 points up for grabs in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas – and plenty, plenty of headlines waiting to be made.

Articles you may like


More MotoGP

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram