A win for the number 93 as Viñales slides out – and the ‘Doctor’ takes the points lead
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) initially fought it out with teammate Dani Pedrosa for victory in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, before being able to break clear in the latter laps of the race to take his stunning fifth win in a row in Austin – his 11th straight win on US soil in an incredible statistic. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) then put on a late charge to take second, with Pedrosa completing the podium – and former Championship leader Maverick Viñales crashing out early on.
Off the line it was an absolutely stunning swoop around the outside for Pedrosa from the second row to lead – old habits die hard – as the Spaniard overtook teammate and polesitter Marc Marquez to lead through Turn 1, with Rossi tucked in behind the two Repsol Honda machines.
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) got a great launch from P6 to overtake Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), and the two men dueled it out until Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) got into the action and followed Viñales past the Mallorcan – before the drama struck.
After two wins from two in the first races of the season, Viñales then suddenly slid out of contention at Turn 18 – lowsiding safely, but out of the fight for victory and taking home a 0 for the first time since Argentina 2016.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) had moved up from his P9 on the grid to take the factory Ducati duo for fifth behind rookie sensation Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), with Andrea Dovizioso getting the best of Lorenzo to move into sixth.
A moment between Zarco and Rossi then saw the ‘Doctor’ taking to the run off as the rookie attempted a move, rejoining a little further ahead and subsequently receiving a 0.3 second penalty for time gained, to be applied at the end of the race.
It was then the Repsol Hondas’ time to duel, as Marquez and Pedrosa diced for the lead and the number 93 was able to begin pulling away with 13 laps to go.
As the last laps approached, Crutchlow dueled Zarco for fourth to come home top Independent Team rider eahead of the rookie, as Rossi struck against Pedrosa to take third. Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) also got in some late action, making it past Lorenzo and the Italian crossing the line for his first points haul of the season in P7.
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) also made it past a Lorenzo struggling with grip to take eighth, with the five-time World Champion crossing the line in P9, as Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller just beat rookie Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha tech 3) to complete the top ten – fulfilling his goal for 2017 in the first three races of the season.
Second Octo Pramac Racing rider Scott Redding came home in P12, with Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) scoring points once again ahead of Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing) and Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team).
Bautista had crashed at around half distance but rejoined to score the point, with teammate Karel Abraham leaving Texas with a DNF alongside Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro after a mechanical problem. Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Sam Lowes and Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) also crashed out, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) pulling into the pits before rejoining to get more track time – crossing the line in P17 behind Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).
Next stop: Jerez. Last year, Valentino Rossi took a scorching win on ‘enemy’ soil in Spain, and the paddock now makes the journey to the classic venue as we return to Europe. And who leads the Championship?
The ‘Doctor’, six points clear and back on familiar, successful hunting ground…