Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi secured a third place today at the Grand Prix of the Americas. His teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, also rode a strong race, despite not feeling at his hundred per cent due to illness, and finished fourth.
The weekend at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) has been full of surprises and the race day was no exception. Though the weather was bright and sunny, the race was delayed at the last minute before the warm-up lap due to water spillage at turn three. The clean up process postponed the proceedings by 37 minutes, but the race remained its original distance of 21 laps.
Starting from fourth on the grid, Rossi quickly moved up to third and got involved in a fight for the lead with rivals Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso. Putting pressure on him on lap seven, the Italians swapped places several times in a hard battle for second place before the nine-time World Champion shook off his compatriot one lap later. He then tried to hunt down race leader Marc Marquez, but was unable to close the gap and got wrapped up in a second scrap with Dovizioso, six laps from the end. Rossi dropped back to one place but kept pushing to the maximum. However, a worn out front tire prevented him from taking his position back. He crossed the finish line in third place, +3.120s from the front, retaining his lead in the championship.
Teammate Lorenzo had a perfect launch off the line but got caught up in a cluster of riders when he arrived at the first corner and fell back to fifth place. While fighting to close down the gap to the leading group, he came under pressure by Andrea Iannone. The Spaniard was forced to let him pass, but he didn't give up. Riding in sixth place, he followed him to the front of the field and soon closed in on Bradley Smith. On the tenth lap he smoothly passed the Brit and continued his stride to the front. He charged up to Iannone with four laps to go and used the nimble Yamaha YZR-M1 to the fullest with a smooth pass to claim fourth place one lap later. With a 2.705s gap to his teammate, he focused his attention on managing the gap to the rider behind him and held his place to the line, +6.682s behind the leader.
Today's results deliver Rossi 16 points, keeping him at the top of the championship standings with 41 points. Lorenzo increased his point count to 26 in total. He currently holds fifth place in the standings.
Valentino Rossi - 3rd / +3.120 / 21 laps
"I'm happy about the weekend, because getting onto the podium is a good objective when coming here. On paper this track is the worst for our bike. I am satisfied about the weekend as a whole because we were always in the top 4-5 and we also weren't so bad on the wet. For it to be perfect I would have had to beat Dovizioso, but unfortunately he was a bit faster. I didn't have a chance to try, also because after six or seven laps of pushing a lot, I had to ride very smooth. For some reason our bike destroyed the front tire. It's been like this in 2013 and last year, but this year, fortunately, Bridgestone brought a harder front. That helped me to arrive at the end of the race, but the tire was still damaged. Dovi said to me that we risked a lot overtaking in turn 12. From the bike I didn't feel it and I thought we had some margin. We passed each other very closely, but there was enough space."
Jorge Lorenzo - 4th / +6.682 / 21 laps
"It was a very tough race, because physically I wasn't feeling good due to the bronchitis and the antibiotics. We finished the race in the best way possible given the circumstances. I wasn't fit and the bike also needed some extra performance on some areas of the track, especially on the straight I lost a lot. Here and in Qatar two problems occurred that were difficult to overcome but we saved the situations the best we could. I will probably be fit in Argentina. Last year I rode a good race there while I wasn't in the best condition. Now that the bike is working better, I hope I will be ready physically. I have high hopes for the race in Argentina and the track is fun to race at."
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"It's been a kind of unusual race for us because the morning conditions of the track didn't allow us to check if the set up for the race would work. We started the race not exactly knowing what the tire life was going to be like, which was a problem we had to deal with the whole weekend. The results of the race have been good, a podium is always a great result and compared to last year we made a big step forward. Today's race was pretty tough for Jorge as he was not in full condition and his performances were affected by the bronchitis that has been with him since Friday. We are leaving this race leading the championship and this gives us great motivation for the next race. Now we look forward to the next round in Argentina."
Bradley Smith Stars In Texas To Finish As Top Satellite MotoGP Rider
Bradley Smith produced a memorable ride at the Circuit Of The Americas to claim the honors of being the top satellite rider by seizing 6th place in Texas. The 21 lap race start was delayed due to a spillage caused by a bridge near turn three which caused water to leak on to the track. However, once the surface conditions were resolved, the race began at 14:37 local time. The young British rider leaped off the starting grid from 10th and his impressive start saw him tenaciously cruise around the outside of the pack to jump up to 4th after the first corner, expertly overtaking six riders from the start. Smith remained resolute and set a series of highly competitive and consistent lap times as he remained right in the hunt with the leading pack in 4th place. At the mid point, the Briton was running in 6th with his determination intact and his tireless performance saw him keep the pursuing rider at bay to brilliantly cross the line as the top satellite MotoGP rider and only 10.557 behind the leader. With two rounds complete, Smith is 6th in the championship standings with 18 points as he optimistically looks ahead to the next round, confident of a further strong finish.
Meanwhile Pol Espargaro's promising weekend where he hoped to challenge his teammate as the leading satellite bike was cruelly cut short after falling on the first lap at turn 11 due to Scott Redding crashing into him. The 23 year old started the day competitively in 5th during a wet warm up session with high hopes of riding to a top finish in the race. Nevertheless, the young Spaniard will remain focused and will look to make amends by clinching a top result in Argentina next week.
Bradley Smith - 6th / +10.557/ 21 laps
"It was a great race and I am pleased with the result. It began with a strong start and to jump from 10th up to 4th was pretty awesome. The risk I took to go around the outside of the pack at turn one paid off. I have been studying previous races and saw how other riders got pinched on the inside, so I decided to gamble and go around the outside. After that, I was running comfortably with the leaders for the first five laps, but when Marc went past Andrea I was just missing that extra bit of pace. At one point in the race, I was concentrating so much on staying with the group in front that I forgot to alter the traction control map and so I overheated the tyre and as a result, I lost some pace. Anyway, I am pleased with the outcome and to finish in 6th place, as the top satellite and only 10 seconds is definitely one of my best performances in my MotoGP career. Now I look ahead to Argentina and although I struggled a bit last year, with the new M1 and Bridgestone tires, we should be competitive. It's a Yamaha track so we need to try and continue this positive momentum from the first two races so far."
Pol Espargaro - DNF
"Of course, I am disappointed as we definitely didn't deserve this result. It was a tricky weekend but we were always inside the top seven and although qualifying unfortunately didn't go to plan, I was confident of a good result. This was despite starting from the third row, which didn't make it any easier. Regarding the incident, sadly there are still riders who think that they can win the race on the first lap even though there are 20 more to ride. It's ridiculous but we can't do anything about it now so we will continue working, yet we can't hide our disappointment. Today could have been a good day but it turned out to be a disaster by something that wasn't in our hands. I will now focus on Argentina next week where I intend to score a top finish."
Hard Race For The Athinà Forward Racing Team In Austin
It was a difficult race for the riders of the Athinà Forward Racing team today in the Grand Prix of the Americas on the track in Austin, Texas. Stefan Bradl was forced to retire after a contact with Jack Miller, while Loris Baz crossed the line in 17th position.
Bradl, who started from the fourth row, had a good start and was immediately close to the Top10. The German was fighting with Jack Miller to win the lead of the Open class when he fell after a contact with the Australian rookie. Bradl was immediately able to get up, but was unable to rejoin the race and was forced to retire.
Complicated race for his teammate Loris Baz who started from the 20th place. The Frenchman struggled at the start, but remained close to the points, before starting to lose grip on the front and crossed the line in 17th position.
Loris Baz - 17th / +1'08.787 / 21 laps
"It was not the race I had imagined. I did not have a good start but I was immediately fast and I closed the gap with the group in front of me. I had a good pace and I did the whole first half of the race with them, before losing a bit of grip on the front. I struggled in the final laps, but I'm happy to have finished the race. The points-zone is close, we learned a lot this weekend and this is a good starting point in view of the race in Argentina."
Stefan Bradl - DNF
"Too bad for how the race ended. I started well, I was fast and surely I could have fought for the head of my class. Immediately after the start I overtook Miller and we were fighting for the position. I passed him on the first corner but he touched me on the rear and I was forced to retire. It's disappointing because we were really competitive. After Qatar we did a great job and an important step forward. We remain focused for the race in Argentina."