On a nice spring afternoon outside Austin, Texas, Repsol Honda supernova Marc Marquez, looking much the way he did in 2013 and 2014, put on another clinic, winning the Grand Prix of the Americas from pole for the fourth consecutive year. The win makes Captain America 10 for 10 in premier class tilts run in the United States.

Marc Marquez is undefeated in MotoGP races on U.S. soil.

I used to think that bingo was the only game in which one could be bored and anxious at the same time. Today’s race – a procession, punctuated by life-threatening crashes – felt like an evening in the church basement.

Yamaha rider and defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo knew, sitting next to Marquez on the front row at the start, that his only chance for a win today would occur on Lap 1, by getting in Marquez’s business, throwing the young Catalan off his rhythm, and trying to get away. So determined was he to accomplish this that he narrowly avoided running off the track at Turn 1 and again at Turn 11, running ragged with cold tires, too much fuel, and no rhythm of his own. It didn’t work, and Marquez took the lead he would never relinquish.

Jorge Lorenzo knew his best shot at a win was to try and get ahead early.

The front group included Valentino Rossi, Ducati’s hard luck Andrea Dovizioso and factory Honda afterthought Dani Pedrosa. Rossi got caught in traffic and fell back to around 6th, where he and Pedrosa jousted for a short while. At Turn 3 of Lap 3, Rossi lost the front at speed and slid well into the gravel, removing around a dozen sponsor logos from his leathers, his day over. Our crack research staff tells me this is the first time in the last 25 races that Rossi has finished outside the top five.

While Marquez was disappearing, Lorenzo took firm control of second place, having gone through on Dovizioso on Lap 5. Lap 6 saw Ducati Maniac Andrea Iannone go through on Suzuki #2 Aleix Espargaro into 5th place. Pedrosa was dogging Dovizioso in the battle for third place on Lap 6 when the broadcast switched to his front camera. Seconds later, Dovizioso’s bike filled the frame just in time to get poleaxed by Pedrosa, as the Spaniard lost the front in Turn 1 and his suddenly riderless bike creamed the Ducati. How Pedrosa’s Honda missed Dovi’s left leg is a mystery. The Italian’s day was over, but Pedrosa climbed back aboard his RC213V and turned a few more laps before calling it a day.

"I'm really sorry, Andrea. I didn't mean to take you out... I thought you were Nicky."

“I’m really sorry, Andrea. I didn’t mean to take you out… I thought you were Nicky.”

Everyone Please Take Three Steps Forward

With Dovizioso and Rossi out and Pedrosa trailing the field, the remaining riders behind Lorenzo received promotions of three spots. Kind of like going from private to lieutenant in ten minutes. Iannone, running relatively cautiously after the debacle in Argentina when he took out teammate Dovizioso in a painfully stupid move, was, suddenly, contending for a podium. The two Suzukis, experiencing their own rebirth of sorts, found themselves contesting fourth place in a battle Maverick Vinales would eventually win over Aleix Espargaro.

Maverick Vinales’ fourth-place finish was not only his personal best but also the highest finish for a Suzuki in MotoGP since 2008 when Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi both scored podium finishes.

Octo Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding was winning The Battle of Britain, enjoying life in 6th place while Cal Crutchlow, on the LCR Honda, and Bradley Smith, on the Tech 3 Yamaha, were slugging it out for seventh. On Lap 8, Crutchlow, in an unforced error that was undoubtedly somebody else’s fault, slid off the track into the runoff area. Scant seconds later, with Smith apparently rubbernecking at Crutchlow’s misfortune, the Tech 3 rider fell, his careening bike missing the back of Crutchlow’s ankles by mere inches. Both men remounted the remnants of their bikes and were the last two riders to see the checkered flag.

A Moment of Reflection

If the racing gods were fair, Andrea Dovizioso would have been on the podium instead of Andrea Iannone. Still, things could have been much worse.

If the racing gods were fair, Andrea Dovizioso would have been on the podium instead of Andrea Iannone. Still, things could have been much worse.

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow are incomprehensibly lucky to be walking around tonight. This is the second week in a row that Crutchlow narrowly avoided a disaster he didn’t even realize was happening. Such is the nature of MotoGP, with objects moving at speeds uncontemplated by our Creator or the slow crawl of evolution (take your choice), lives hanging precariously in the balance. Some riders, like Crutchlow and Dovizioso, may be lucky enough, or blessed enough, to tell stories about these things to their grandchildren one day. Others, like Marco Simoncelli and Shoya Tomizawa, will never have grandchildren to hear them. When a Jorge Lorenzo gets irritated by the stupid antics of an Alvaro Bautista and talks about risking his life every time he climbs aboard, he’s not just whistling “Dixie.”

The Big Picture

If you had suggested at Sepang during winter testing, when Marquez was lapping 1.5 seconds behind Lorenzo, that he would be leading the championship by 21 points after three rounds he probably would have suggested that you get your head examined. Yet here we are. The other anomalies in the top ten include Tech 3 Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro sitting fourth despite seeming to be having a difficult year, swarthy Ducati pilot and underachiever Hectic Hector Barbera sitting sixth, and Ulsterman Eugene Laverty sitting ninth. Laverty’s euphoria from last week was short-lived, as he went from a highly fluky fourth place to four points in a week. Still, not bad for a guy on a two-year-old Ducati.

Cal Crutchlow would later blame the following paragraph for his crash.

Okay, so I’ve never been a big fan of Cal Crutchlow, who has always, in my opinion, talked a better race than he rides. He so rarely mans up and takes the blame when things go wrong. So I may be forgiven for enjoying seeing him sitting in last place, 0-for-2016 after three rounds. Looking forward to the article on the MotoGP website – it should appear tomorrow or Tuesday – in which he explains who was to blame for today’s crash and how he skillfully avoided getting shattered by Smith’s unguided missile. As they say in Coventry, hard cheese old boy.

And another thing. Jack Miller, the Great Aussie Hope, so cool and fast he was allowed to skip second grade, was declared out of today’s race after two more heavy crashes this weekend. Honda is so anxious to locate the second coming of Casey Stoner, and the kid’s ambition is so large, he’s going to seriously injure himself or someone else out there, generally riding out of control and creating huge piles of brightly painted and utterly trashed carbon fiber. Dude needs to think about a step back to Moto2.

Tough luck for Jack Miller who reinjured the same leg hurt in a motocross crash in January.

A Final Thought Before Returning to Europe

Everything’s big in Texas – from the state itself, which takes 24 hours to drive across, to the iniquity of its junior U.S. senator. COTA maintains the tradition, with the most corners (20) in a MotoGP circuit (Red Bull Ring in Austria has nine), the longest straight on the tour, the steepest hill, seating for 120,000 fans, etc., etc. But seriously, let’s just get it over with and rename the track the Marc Marquez Circuit. Better yet, how about the Circuito Marc Marquez, since Texas was originally a northern state of Mexico before Sam Houston and his boys shoved the locals across the Rio Grande way back when.

Marc Marquez holds up his hands to signal his fourth COTA win in four years. Either that or he’s flashing gang signs.

Round Four touches off in Jerez in two weeks. In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye on the Lorenzo to Ducati and Vinales to Yamaha rumblings, and will have them for you in full once they’re official.

2016 MotoGP Circuit of the Americas Results
Pos. Rider Team Time
1 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda
2 Jorge Lorenzo Movistar Yamaha +6.107
3 Andrea Iannone Ducati +10.947
4 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Ecstar +18.422
5 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Ecstar +20.711
6 Scott Redding Octo Pramac Yaknich Ducati +28.961
7 Pol Espargaro Monster Yamaha Tech3 +32.112
8 Michele Pirro Octo Pramac Yaknich Ducati +32.757
9 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing +34.592
10 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini +40.211
11 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini +45.423
12 Eugene Laverty Aspar Ducati +47.127
13 Tito Rabat Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda +47.426
14 Yonny Hernandez Aspar Ducati +51.190
15 Loris Baz Avintia Ducati +1:12.929
16 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda +1:19.952
17 Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech3 +1:28.036
Not Classified
Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 10 Laps
Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Corse 15 Laps
Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha 19 Laps
2016 MotoGP Top Ten Standings After 3 Rounds
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1 Marc Marquez Honda 66
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 45
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 33
4 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 28
5 Dani Pedrosa Honda 27
6 Hector Barbera Ducati 25
7 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 23
8 Maverick Vinales Suzuki 23
9 Eugene Laverty Ducati 21
10 Aleix Espargaro Yamaha 21
  • JMDonald

    Marquez needs to complete his ethics in racing classes before he gets a track named after him in Texas. I’m pretty sure the spice girls had something to do with Crutchlow’s crash.

  • Old MOron

    Bruce, your Bingo analogy is brilliant. The race was so boring and so dramatic at the same time.

    • Bruce Allen

      The race was a total of about four feet–two in Dovi’s wreck and another two in Crutchlow’s miraculous escape–from being red flagged. Either incident could have been very bad.

      • Gruf Rude

        The ‘squiggles’ at turns 3, 4 and 5 at Austin are really dangerous, also. A couple of riders narrowly missed serious injury last year when bikes went down, slid off the track and then continued back across the racing line on the next ‘squiggle.’ Poor design in my opinion.

  • http://voidstar.com/ jbond

    Don’t mention the oil. I’m not happy with sharing a MotoGp weekend with a national championship. Also not happy with a race track that consistently fails to provide an entertaining Moto3 race.

    • Old MOron

      Good point. It takes some real effort to mess up a Moto 3 race. I wonder what it is about COTA.

      • spiff

        It is a big and open track. Fast guys get away, and slow guys fade. No bottle necks to keep them together.

  • Starmag

    Suzuki- Mooovin’ on up to the Parc side, to a deeluxe spot in the skyyy.

    Sure, 18-20 sec back, but still, it’s just year two.

    Poor Dovi.

    Bowling Ball undeserving after last week.

    • Bruce Allen

      Iannone was shooting for sixth, until a bunch of guys fell out in front of him. He probably agrees with you.

  • Bruce Allen

    Check this out. ““It was my mistake,” said the Briton about his crash. “Whether it was something on the track or not, I don’t know.” He came THIS close to taking the blame while asserting the only Honda rider better than him is Marquez. Huge stones to say such a thing. Then, a poor carpenter blaming his tools, he goes on, “… the weak acceleration of the Honda compared to its rivals means he is having to overcompensate on the entry to corners, and take too many risks.” Blah blah blah. What a wanker. http://www.motorsport.com/motogp/news/crutchlow-im-the-next-best-honda-after-marquez-686334/

    • Old MOron

      When the camera cut to Lucio Cecchinello one of the commentators said he looked like the guy who won the lottery but lost the ticket. Poor guy, it’s hard enough just being a privateer.

    • methamphetasaur

      If you actually watch the interview, you’d see he was specifically asked if there was something on the track, because Smith told Neil Hodgson there must be something on the track because he kept having problems there. I know you hate him and would still be upset even if he said he crashed on purpose just to make you happy- but just putting it out there.

      As to his excuses, be they real or imagined, I do feel as if he’d be better off keeping them to himself until his crashes are the exception instead of the norm.

      • Bruce Allen

        “Hate” is the wrong word. It’s just that he’s never won a race, and it’s never been his fault. Bad equipment, other riders, something on the track. That he’s never been offered a factory ride is not an oversight, in my opinion. He’s also made something of a practice of crashing out of the top three positions. Give him a factory RC213V, and I suspect he’ll just be crashing out at higher speeds. Scoreboard.

        • methamphetasaur

          I’m not disagreeing with you per se, it just seems like you’re picking on the retarded kid in high school. Even if it was funny after a while you just look like an dick. I think he has this ‘I won championships over there, so if I can’t win championships over here it must be the bike’ mentality. Just ignore him like the rest of us. He only has a few years left in him at best before he fades into obscurity with the rest of the also-rans.

  • Ozzy Mick

    Couldn’t agree more with you about the Great Aussie Hope, Jack Miller when you said, “Dude needs to think about a step back to Moto2.” I don’t really know why I’m posting this – I’ve lost interest in MotoGP. But keep up the good work, Mr Allen

    • Old MOron

      I was wondering why you hadn’t chimed in. Has something else taken Moto GP’s place in your attention span? Is the pending winter time Down Under putting a damper on things? Or maybe you just can’t stay interested in watching Miller fall off his bike. They guy is fearless. You have to give him that.

      • Ozzy Mick

        Our winters are actually a good time to ride up here Down Under where the summer sun can cook your head in your helmet.
        Perhaps your incisive questions can best be answered by the fact that I gave away my ole 1200GSF Bandit and bought a Maxsym 400i (a scooter, if you didn’t know)! Somewhat akin to what Miller did, but in reverse!
        And you’re right about Miller crashing – maybe he’s trying too hard to make up for inferior machinery, as Casey did before he jumped on the Duke – oh wait, Mr Allen cites this as a common excuse of Crutchlow’s!
        Is Miller being groomed to replace Pedrobot?

        • Bruce Allen

          Before you sign off for good to, like, run errands on your scooter, aren’t you the least bit interested in where Lorenzo, Vinales, Rins et al wind up? I have a theory that once riders sign new deals, their intensity levels drop, wanting to keep their limbs intact for their new masters. Thus Rossi hasn’t come close to a win, and Smith looks lost out there. In American sports, they talk about players working their asses off in “contract years,” only to perform poorly once the big deal is signed. You’re not the least bit curious to see if this affects the Aliens? This grieves me. Plus, it knocks my readership down by about 30%.

          • Ozzy Mick

            Maybe my motivation in following a sport or team or individual is tainted by parochialism. There’s a flicker of interest with the new boys like Vinales and Ironman but maybe I now think about it as more of a European championship (i.e. Spanish, Italian, throw in a couple of Brits) with a token Aussie, nil Americans, any Japanese?
            Same in reverse re the manufacturers, but happy to see some fight from Ducati.
            To sum up, sure, we had Ago (a little before I became interested in Motorcycle racing) but I enjoyed the racing much more in the days of Roberts, Spencer, Lawson, Schwantz, Sheen, Gardner, Rainey, Doohan and Stoner, of course.
            Small consolation, but I feel even worse about F1 which is a championship of technology, not driving skills.
            But worry thyself not, ye ole bard, I shall continue following your ramblings even if my posts diminish as I run errands on my scooter.

        • Old MOron

          Interesting consideration, Miller replacing Pedrobot. I find myself more caught up then usual in Silly Season this year.

          All of the riders are out of contract this year, so theoretically anyone could wind up anywhere. Vale has renewed with Yamaha, but there is lots of speculation over Lorenzo and Vinales. And there’s a fresh crop of Moto 2 hotshots with the likes of Zarco, Rins, and Folger.

          Miller’s skipping Moto 2 was a good gambit to leapfrog these riders. But his plan was frustrated by Honda when they sat him on a nail of a motorcycle. Still, if Honda’s thinking is similar to Yamaha’s, then Miller might still wind up in Pedrobot’s seat.

          Lin Jarvis has said that he would not want to promote Alex Rins staright to Yamaha’s factory team. Moto 2 riders should graduate to a satellite team. That means that Miller is still first in line for Dani’s seat, but Dani would have to vacate that seat in 2017.

          So what are the odds of Dani moving to another team next year? Might he wind up on a factory Yamaha? Yamaha have been grooming Pol Esparagaro for their factory team. I don’t know how quickly they would abandon him in favor of Dani. Pedrobot could also sign for Ducati or KTM. I have kind of a tough time seeing him in Ducati colours, but with his slight stature and with Ducati’s acceleration, he would be a force. KTM have already signed Brad Smith. He’s said to give good development feedback. I wonder if they’ll want another development-type rider for their first year, or if they’ll try to groom a youngster, like Suzuki did with Vinales.

          I guess Dani could wind up on a Suzuki, too. Suzuki will be keen to have an alien if Maverick leaves.

          Shucks, I think I’m just talking in circles. There’s one more thing I forgot to mention. I read somewhere that Rins holds something of a grudge against Honda. They favored Marc Marquez over him when they were on the same team. This increases Miller’s chance of landing in the Repsol garage if Dani leaves.

          But it’s all just silliness.

          • Bruce Allen

            Despite what Livio Suppo says publicly, I think Dani has worn out his welcome at Honda. Zero championships in 10 years on a factory Honda–bet there’s no one else out there who can say that. They GOTTA be looking at one of the young bucks.

          • Old MOron

            If HRC get rid of Pedrobot, they would have to either give Miller his chance, or promote some Moto 2 hopeful directly to their factory team. I think Miller’s chances are good, especially if Rins’ rumored rancor is real. (alliteration, Baby!)

            But what if Marky Marc doesn’t want a young gunner for a teammate? All of the Moto 2 guys, Miller, Vinales, Pol Espargaro, they’re all young gunners who would love a shot at Marquez. Would Repsol Welcome Dovi back? Would Dovi go back? Who else has a calmer, older head?

          • Bruce Allen

            Yamaha has demonstrated for years that they’re going to hire whomever they want to ride for them, whether the two get along or not. Honda, as impassive and inscrutable as they come, must covet Rins, despite the rivalry with the Marquez/Rabat camp. Two years ago I thought they would hire younger brother Alex, but he’s not as good as people thought back then. Last year I thought it might be Iannone, but his stock has gone way down. By the end of this year there may not be enough of Jack Miller left to assemble a complete rider–he’s becoming The Black Knight from Monty Python. Dovi says he wants to stay with Ducati. Rins might leap at the chance to show up teammate MM. If Rins wins Moto2 this year I think Honda will grab him, unless he balks and they have to give Sito Pons a full factory spec RC. Whatever happens, Dani looks to be hitting the end of the road.

            Your alliterative tour de force again suggests it’s you who should be writing this column, with me on the sidelines keeping you honest.

          • Old MOron

            Yes, the Black Knight! Except it’s not funny. Reminds me of John “Hopper” Hopkins. He came into Moto GP, and tore himself to pieces trying to override the Suzuki. I really liked Hopper.

          • Ozzy Mick

            Wow! You’re really showing me up with your knowledge and analysis – keep it up! Interesting stuff – always fun to speculate. Even with my limited up-to-date knowledge, I think I agree with Bruce that Petrobot is on the outer. He’s been given more than a fair go by Honda. Hope Miller’s on the radar.

  • schizuki

    The wife and I pick a Crashlow lap before every race. I chose 10, she picked 8. She nailed it.