Well, he did it. Marc Marquez remains King of CotA with his 5th win in as many races at the Texas track. He must be excited but I felt robbed of the potential duel between Marquez and Maverick Vinales – the latter crashed out in the second lap!
As we did with Saturday’s post, let’s start from the top. Nathan and I wanted to get in early but it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, we rolled in at 9am, about 40 minutes before the MotoGP warm up commenced.
I was walking around the paddock to get prepared for the day when I stumbled upon this scene. Apparently MotoGP knows what sells. So if you saw on this on TV, know that I was there with you in spirit. I’m really sorry that this is vertical, it’s the stupid way I have to film for Instagram stories.
For race day, I decided to join Nathan trackside for some shots. Baby Jack might have come with me as well, and the track’s Medical Staff seemed to dig him almost as much as VyVy does:
At the end of the warm up session, a few racers gave the fans a treat by lofting the front wheel. I couldn’t help wondering how bad it would be if someone went down while trying a wheelie and then had to miss the race. Apparently Loris Baz doesn’t think that way, because he did this on this last lap:
Soon after, MotoGP had Kevin Schwantz and Kenny Roberts Jr. do a “lap of honor.” As they’re both Suzuki legends (Schwantz won a championship in 1993 on a Suzuki, while Roberts did the same in 2000), they did the lap on two examples of Suzuki’s new GSX-R 1000. The #2 on this bike should tell you that this was Kenny going by me:
Then the MotoGP racers got a parade lap around the track in varying BMW convertibles. Here the Movistar Yamaha teammates get whisked around the track:
Before the main event, Moto3 and Moto2 had their races. I normally don’t follow either of these classes with much interest, but I was at a fun spot at the last corner for the start of Moto3 so I figured I had to check out some of the action. Moto3 sounds like a swarm of bees, and there’s so many racers in the pack that there’s always going to be something interesting for those of you that want to see passing.
There was one save in Moto3 that absolutely deserves special recognition:
Some other snaps from Moto3:
Nakarin Atiraphuvapat (Honda Team Asia, finished 249th) leads the back of the pack with CotA’s tower looming over them.
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Honda) gets jostled on the rumble strip, but he doesn’t let that stop him from finishing 2nd.
Jorge celebrates his podium finish with a wheelie:
Gabriel Martinez-Abrego may have placed last (28th) but he finished, and that’s worth celebrating! He’s the only rider in MotoGP/Moto2/Moto3 from Mexico, and he brought the flag to prove it:
Marco Bezzecchi (placed 17th on a CIP Mahindra) celebrates the end of his race with a track worker.
Here’s some shots from Moto2:
Ricard Cardus (eventually placed 14th) mid-corner on his Red Bull KTM.
Ricard’s teammate Miguel Oliveira celebrates a 6th place finish by showing the KTM section of the crowd at Turn 15 some love.
Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing Suter) made eye contact with Nathan, then showed off after his 5th place finish. How romantic.
…while the Aprilia riders get some some stylish 946 (RED) models that look like they’re on display.
To be frank, last year I spent all my time in the press box so that I could cover the race. This year I decided to go trackside with Nathan. Before the race started, a track worker let me be stupid and bust out one of the flags for a photo. My weapon of choice was the yellow/red stripes – without looking it up, do you know what it means? ⠀
While being next to the track meant I was able to get up close for some photos, it also meant that outside of the corner I was camped out at, I had very little idea what was going on. For example, I didn’t even find out that Vinales went down until a lap after it happened. With Vinales out, a Marquez victory seemed likely and the story line I was most interested in became Rossi and how he’d finish (2nd). There were two highlights – a penalty he “earned” when he got bumped off line by Zarco and his late pass on Pedrosa.
On Turn 3, Zarco was coming in much hotter than Rossi and tried to slide in for a pass where there wasn’t enough room:
Rossi got penalized for 0.3 seconds because that’s how much time Race Direction believed he saved by cutting the track when he had to go off line. Rossi’s lead over the eventual 3rd place finisher (Pedrosa) was 2.043 seconds, so the penalty ended up being irrelevant and it seems like both riders have moved on.
Pedrosa had actually taken an early lead to the race and was enjoying a clear line of sight in front for the first eight laps before Marquez took over. Rossi had to work for 10 laps but on Turn 19 of Lap 19 (with 2 laps to go) he was able to sneak past Pedrosa, much to the crowd’s delight.
Here are a few more of my favorite shots from Nathan and I during the MotoGP race:
Honda teammates duke it out.
The eventual podium finishers before Rossi sneaked around Pedrosa.
Bradley Smith is cheered on by KTM fans.
Sam Lowes crashed out on Turn 14, and we were just a few seconds from getting there in time. We got out of a photographer shuttle van just to see his bike sliding on the ground and throwing off a shower of sparks. Thankfully, he was OK, but he was done for the day.
Dovi (placed 6th) leads a pack of riders through a wave of curved pavement:
Bradley Smith ended up in the penultimate position but he took a moment after the race to acknowledge the supportive KTM section of the crowd. His teammate Pol Espargaro was unable to join him as his clutch started leaking oil early in the race and he had to retire.
When it was all said and done, the riders finished in the following order (with manufacturer and total time)
1. Marc Marquez / Honda / 43’58.770
2. Valentin Rossi / Yamaha/ 44’01.839
3. Dani Pedrosa / Honda / 44’03.882
4. Cal Crutchlow / Honda / 44’06.408
5. Johann Zarco / Yamaha / 44’06.727
6. Andrea Dovizioso / Ducati / 44’12.828
7. Andrea Iannone / Suzuki / 44’14.261
8. Danilo Petrucci / Ducati / 44’15.542
9. Jorge Lorenzo / Ducati / 44’16.749
10. Jack Miller / Honda / 44’17.264
11. Jonas Folger / Yamaha / 44’17.673
12. Scott Redding / Ducati / 44’27.505
13. Tito Rabat / Honda / 44’28.811
14. Hector Barbera / Ducati / 44’30.134
15. Alvaro Bautista / Ducati / 45’05.317
16. Bradley Smith / KTM / 45’20.860
17. Aleix Espargaro / Aprilia / 45’43.993
Did Not Finish:
1. Sam Lowes / Aprilia
2. Pol Espargaro / KTM
3. Loris Baz / Ducati
4. Maverick Vinales / Yamaha
5. Karel Abraham / Ducati
Nathan and I hopped on a photographer shuttle to get to Turn 15 before the race ended. Our thinking was that riders would wheelie by on the cool down lap. We were wrong – no one wheelied, but we were rewarded by being up close when Rossi pulled aside to celebrate with 2nd place finish with a couple of his Movistar Yamaha team members.
I then tried to get over to victory lane as soon as I could, but by the time I got there the awards had already been presented. I got a quick glance of the podium finishers post-champagne shower and a shot of Rossi looking out at his adoring fanbase:
I don’t know how any times I can say this, but the fan support for Rossi over any other rider is absolutely staggering.
Once all the racing was over, I tried to visit a few portions of the track that I didn’t get to during the weekend, including Ducati Island. Ducati does a tremendous job of marketing at events like this (and at making their owners feel special). One of my favorite parts was a section dedicated to the Scramber, including the new Desert Sled and Cafe Racer versions. A cute mural of the original bike:
In the afternoon, fans get to walk on a portion of the track. This kid was given a tearoff by one of the track workers:
One of the things you don’t think about is what happens after you leave. The teams are highly efficient and are able to get everything packed up in just a few hours so they can ship off to the next track and do it all over again!
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m glad it’s over. I am exhausted. Hope you enjoyed tagging along and this made you consider coming out next year. For MotoGP weekend, Austin turns into motorcycle heaven. You have people from all over the world coming out for the racing, and the community responds – AF1 throws a party, Revival Cycles hosts the Handbuilt Show, and you’ll be surrounded by motorcycle fans wherever you go. It’s surreal to be at a BBQ joint or a bar and have 10-20% of the customers wearing MotoGP or other motorcycle gear. It’s just about impossible not to be happy when you’re in Austin for this weekend. I have to insist that you make it out here at least once.
That’s it for me from now, but I need to take a moment to apologize to many of you that I was hoping to see in person this weekend. I just couldn’t get free at the right times, and I apologize for that. I’ll be in Texas and then New York for a while, and then it’s off to the Quail – hopefully I’ll see some of you there (and I’ll actually have time to do so!).
Adios for now.