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.
After an exhausting, confusing and ultimately revelatory weekend in Argentina, MotoGP boogies 4500 miles north to Austin, deep in the heart of Texas, for Round 3 of the 2016 season. Since its inception in 2013, the pretentiously-named Circuit of the Americas has hosted an annual Honda clambake, the other teams invited mostly to fill the grid and add to the festival atmosphere. Repsol Honda pretty boy Marc Marquez has started and won from pole all three years, and looks ready to do the same on Sunday.
The 2016 Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar marked the beginning of a new era in MotoGP, that of Michelin tires and standard electronics across the grid. In the run-up to the race, hopes that some new faces would emerge from the pack and find their way to the podium had been soaring. Under the lights of Losail, however, defending champion Jorge Lorenzo held serve for Yamaha against a strong challenge from Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez; the Usual Suspects had once again asserted their dominance of the sport.
To the surprise of no one, Jorge Lorenzo set the fast time in the first outing of the 2016 MotoGP season at Losail. Rossi was right behind with Iannone rounding out the top three. Maverick Viñales continues to show impressive speed in fifth, while the two factory Repsol Honda riders only managed 7th and 8th for Pedrosa and Marquez, respectively.
Here we are again, nosing around the garage area and the vicinity of the start/finish line, anticipating a full new season of MotoGP. Everyone is optimistic. Everyone is putting their best foot forward. The power brokers, the likes of Yamaha’s Lin Jarvis and Honda’s Livio Suppo, are maintaining low profiles, keeping their powder dry in case – this probably of more concern to Suppo than Jarvis – their 2016 project turns out to be a dumpster fire.
Anticipation is mounting for another spectacular confrontation at the opening round of the 2016 MotoGP season in Qatar. Last year, Valentino Rossi won under the floodlights. Marc Marquez crossed the finish line first in 2014 while Jorge Lorenzo won back-to-back openers in 2013 and 2012. So, the top three riders can all claim recent victories at Losail. In preseason testing, the Ducatis of Iannone and Dovizioso have been fast, while Maverick Viñales, on the GSX-RR, has been topping time sheets. Who do think will be victorious in Qatar when the checkered flag drops in 2016?
The 2015 MotoGP season was one of the wildest ones to date. Both because of the intense on-track action, but maybe more so because of the shenanigans that happened away from it. I won’t bother explaining the drama, as you should already know what I’m talking about if you’re reading this (if you don’t, check out Bruce Allen’s season finale preview and his race recap to get caught up). Plus, the 2015 season is over, so there’s no point dwelling on the past. What we can do, however, is ramble about the future, and that’s the focus of this week’s Top 10. The antics that clouded the last couple races of 2015 will surely carry over into next season, but even without that, 2016 is bound to be an unpredictable MotoGP season. Here’s why.
If you’re already a fan of grand prix motorcycle racing, Hitting the Apex will transport you from the stands inside the garages and beyond, occasionally into the living rooms of the riders themselves. Any sports documentary capable of doing that must be deemed a success.
The record books will show that Jorge Lorenzo’s win today, together with Valentino Rossi’s 4th place finish, gave the 2015 championship to Lorenzo by five points. There will be documentation attesting to the fact that Valentino Rossi passed 20 riders in the first 10 laps, ultimately making it up to 4th place on the grid, at which point he was spent.
The two weeks leading up to the deciding moment of the 2015 MotoGP title have been unsatisfactory. Unsatisfactory in the extreme. For only the third time in 24 years, the premier class title will be decided in Valencia. But title contenders and factory Yamaha teammates Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi have gotten wrapped around the axle in a dispute with Repsol Honda #1 Marc Marquez that has stolen the spotlight from the race and shifted it to, of all places, an obscure courtroom in Switzerland.
The 2015 Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix will be remembered and talked about for years. Not for the fact that Repsol Honda #2 Dani Pedrosa won the race. Not for the fact that Jorge Lorenzo took second place to pull within seven points of the championship lead. Today will be remembered as the day Valentino Rossi allowed his emotions to get the better of him, such that putting Marc Marquez in the weeds and out of the race became a higher priority than winning his tenth world championship.
Movistar Yamaha teammates and rivals Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo have taught us a few things about themselves as this riveting 2015 MotoGP season blazes into The Pacific Rim for Round 17 at Sepang International Circuit. Rossi prefers rain, short, pudgy tracks where he can record lots of qualifying laps, and applying pressure from the rear, as it were, on race day. Lorenzo likes things bone dry, prefers longer tracks to shorter ones, and strongly prefers running from the front, as roughly half of his premier class wins have come in races in which he’s led every lap. Conditions here on race day are a pure lottery; the race could as easily be decided on Saturday as Sunday.
Today’s Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix had something for every taste and budget. Repsol Honda defending double world champion Marc Marquez, in his season of discontent, laid down an historic last lap to seize the victory from Yamaha mullah Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo, trailing teammate Valentino Rossi by 18 points coming in, was blessed today by a statement performance from factory Ducati #1 Andrea Iannone who slipped past Rossi one more time on the final lap and onto the podium, trimming Rossi’s lead over Lorenzo to 11 points heading to Sepang.
Movistar Yamaha idol Jorge Lorenzo, he of the two fairly recent world championships, has a steep hill to climb to set up a climactic finale to the 2015 season in Valencia. Which, in turn, necessitates opening a can of whupass on his legendary Italian teammate and rival, Valentino Rossi this week in Australia and next time out in Malaysia. It’s hard to envision Rossi, at this stage of his career, allowing an 18 point lead to disappear in two weeks. Sure, I know, that’s what Marquez almost did last year; my money’s on the old guy anyway.