LOS ANGELES: Spain’s Marc Marquez, who has ruled the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, since 2013, will try to extend that dominance on Sunday (Monday in Manila) and stretch his lead atop the MotoGP standings.
The Honda rider has won three straight in Austin – all from pole position. The run started in 2013, when his first victory at the age of 20 made him the youngest MotoGP race winner ever.
“It’s a track that I like, where I feel strong, and where I’ve always had good races and good fun,” Marquez said of the fast track nestled in hills outside the Texas capital, which is hosting the only MotoGP race this season in America after the loss of Indianapolis from the calendar.
Marquez, world champion in 2013 and 2014, arrives Stateside off a win in Argentina and an eight-point lead atop the standings over Italian rival Valentino Rossi.
Nevertheless, Marquez wasn’t feeling complacent.
“The track rewards strong acceleration, which hasn’t been one of our strongest points so far this year, so we’ll have to wait and see how we can manage the situation,” he said. “We’ll keep working hard, as we did in Argentina, and we’ll try to find the best pace for the Sunday race.”
Austin unkind to Rossi
Austin has been less than hospitable to Rossi, who could be in for another tough week after battling to second place in Argentina.
That race saw riders change their bikes at half distance because of rear tire issues, and Rossi’s second M1 encountered an issue with the rear that left him unable to challenge for the win.
Yamaha riders have struggled in Austin, and Rossi’s third place finish last year is his only podium place at Circuit of the Americas.
“We have to work hard in Austin because it’s crucial to understand quickly how bike, tires, electronics and this track work together,” nine-time world champion Rossi said. “Furthermore, in the last laps of the race I’m not very strong so we need to improve with the bike on these tires.”
“Historically it is a difficult circuit for us and for Yamaha, but last year I was able to land on the podium so I will try also this year,” he added.
Rossi’s teammate and rival Jorge Lorenzo will try to bounce back from a forgettable outing in Argentina, where he failed to finish.
But the reigning world champion from Spain, who opened the season with a victory in Qatar, acknowledged that it will be a challenge.
“The COTA circuit is not one of my favorite tracks nor for Yamaha, so we need to try to understand as soon as possible the circuit with the new electronics and tires,” he said “I’m eager to do a good race and try to recover some points before facing the first race in Europe.”
Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso, deprived of a second place finish in Argentina after a collision with his team-mate, is also keen to rebound at a circuit where he finished second last year.
“We are looking forward to the race at Austin with confidence,” Italy’s Dovizioso said. “I know that we are competitive and I feel ready to fight things out on this fantastic track, which has completely different characteristics to the previous two.”