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Thursday, April 16, 2015

MotoGP 2015: COTA – Round Up

Making Worth of His Intense Qualifying Lap

Unbeaten at COTA

An ardent follower of the sport wouldn’t have missed it. The internet was abuzz about what had happened in the MotoGP qualifying on Saturday. I am talking about Marc Marquez’s intense last lap of the Qualifying that put him on the first position on the front row. Here’s what happened – While the second session of the Qualifying had little over 2 minutes left and almost all riders were putting in their final effort for the best possible position on the starting grid, Marc Marquez’s RCV213V flashed a warning light on its console signalling him to stop immediately for anything could have gone wrong. Marquez did stop the motorcycle as he didn’t want to take any chances with it, parked it against a nearby wall then jumped over it, ran to the pit where his team was ready with the backup bike and went out one final time in whatever little time was remaining in the session.

What followed was something that is said to have never been witnessed in any qualifying ever in MotoGP history. Marc Marquez, on his backup RCV213V motorcycle which was fitted with the wrong front tyre and not-so-perfect suspension setup, not only recorded the fastest Qualifying time to take the pole but it is also the new lap record on the circuit. The time of 2.02.135. If he hadn’t done that, he would have been off the front row start.

It wasn’t perfect either. Marquez’s lap was filled with mistakes, outbraking himself number of times and then running wide out of corners and almost crashing himself more than once. But he still finished his lap and did it in a memorable fashion. One hell of a Qualifying lap!

Well… Welcome to the second race at Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.

the Start

While this was the talk of the grid, the weather also kept things interesting. The weather toyed with the riders the whole weekend. Rain was an on and off affair making practice sessions tricky and difficult. There was a forecast of rain for the MotoGP race as well on Sunday. However, when it actually mattered, the rain stayed away for good providing a clean race.

The starting grid looked like this – Marc Marquez in 1st on the front row on his RCV213V joined by Andrea Dovizioso on his Ducati GP15 in 2nd and Jorge Lorenzo on his Movistar Yamaha YZR-M1 in 3rd. Valentino Rossi headed the row two in 4th spot while Cal Crutchlow started from the 5th position and Scott Redding in 6th. Dovizioso’s team mate Andrea Iannone started from third row in 7th spot.

So the riders had lined up on the grid and the weather looked good and reasonably sunny with only light coulds indicating that the dry race is on. It wasn’t without some drama though. Just minutes before the race the safety car reported that some water had leaked on to the track from the overbridge at turn 3. It was enough to delay the race for nealy 30 minutes. The marshals rushed to the spot along with a very big vacuum cleaner to clean and dry out the surface as quickly as possible while the riders waited in their pits.

Eventually, the race started with full 21 laps as originally given. Both Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso had good starts from the front row but it was Dovizioso who lead everyone going into the turn 1. Marquez positioned himself in second while Rossi had a decent start as well and got into the third position as the riders finished the first corner. Lorenzo couldn’t capitalize much on his front row start and was relegated to the fifth spot. Probably the best start of the race was by Bradley Smith on his Tech 3 Yamaha who came from the outside and got in the 4th position behind Rossi after starting from the 10th position on the grid. That’s quite fantastic for a satellite rider.

And Smith did a brilliant job of staying with the front runners for good 6-7 laps before slowly fading out and losing couple of positions. Ahead of him, Dovizioso tried to break away from the duo of Rossi and Marquez and developed a small gap of around half a second. Rossi and Marquez were riding closer to each other and it seemed that they had a battle in their hands. The Movistar Yamaha rider tried to overtake the Repsol Honda man but just couldn’t manage to move ahead. 5 to 6 laps down the race, Marquez suddenly upped his pace and launched an attack on the leading Dovizioso. The current world champion overtook the Ducati rider soon and almost instantly started developing a gap. It was apparent that Marquez was carrying more pace.

From this point on, it was a battle for the second place on the podium between Rossi and Dovizioso while Marquez continued to pull away at the front lap after lap. Both the Italians provided some great spectacle to the crowd as they indulged in a dogfight which continued almost till the end. Around the middle of the race, Rossi got in front of Dovizioso at the turn that lead to the longest back straight. Dovizioso used his Ducati horsepower and awesome topend pull to try and take the position back; however, Rossi was intent to keep his place and braked hard and closed any gap that could allow Dovizioso to move in front. The situation was quite close and Dovizioso just managed to not hit Rossi’s M1 from behind. The two riders continued to battle in the remaining laps while Bradley Smith started to lose positions and was overtaken by both Lorenzo and Iannone eventually.

Battle for the Second

COTA has been known to be an exceptionally difficult track for the Yamahas but the improvements made this year to the motorcycles allowed both Rossi and Lorenzo to put decent performances on the track. Last year, Rossi suffered drastic tyre degradation which disallowed him to finish on the podium. So this year, the Italian chose the hard front tyre for the race. Marquez was on hard front as well while Dovizioso was on medium front.

The hard front tyre choice allowed Rossi to put a challenging fight throughout the race but even that didn’t end up as good as he had hoped for. During the later stages of the race, Rossi started experiencing grip issues on the right side of his front tyre eventually losing the second spot to Dovizioso. In the last lap, Dovizioso maintained his pace and was fast enough to safely finish ahead of Rossi. The nine times world champion indeed got a better result than last year as he finished 3rd in the race. Marc Marquez won quite confomtably without any challenge from the moment he got in front.

Andrea Iannone & Jorge Lorenzo - battle for fourth

Behind the trio, Lorenzo and Iannone indulged in a battle for the fourth position in the last few laps of the race. Eventually, the Spaniard came out on the top finishing behind his team mate Rossi. However, Lorenzo was treated with antibiotics for Bronchitis that he had been suffering during the weekend, so this might have prevented him a little bit to fight for a better finish. Bradley Smith finished in an impressive sixth position.

That was a good fight!

The highlights of this race were that Marc Marquez remains unbeaten in America and specifically in COTA. Yamahas performed better than last time around and Rossi was specially pleased about it. And finally, the Ducati GP15 is indeed a much better motorcycle than its past variants and appears to be a serious challenger this year.

With this result and two races down, Valentino Rossi continues to lead the world championship by 1 point with total of 41 points while Andrea Dovizioso is at 40 points and Marc Marquez is back in the game with 36 points.

King of the Texas!

The top 3 riders quotes:

Marc Marquez - "I am very happy with this victory! After yesterday, things looked positive for us, but the only doubt was about the weather. In the end, it turned out stranger than it had seemed. When I saw that it was going to be a dry race, I started out very focused - because I knew it was important to try to win today. However, right from the first lap I saw that the track was not like it had been before the rain of last night. There was less grip and it was harder to ride comfortably. I decided to keep calm in the early laps to try to understand the situation well, and when I started to find a feeling similar to practice, I decided to push the pace a bit. That was when I was able to open up a gap."

Andrea Dovizioso - “Today was a superb race and I take enormous personal satisfaction from it because here at Austin the races are always special: on this circuit you have to administer your energy, your tyres and your pace, something that does not happen in other circuits. I am particularly pleased with the work of my team because on a completely different track from Losail we confirmed that the GP15 is competitive and we managed to improve during the weekend. This year we have already had two great races, but we must continue to work because we’re still lacking a bit of fine-tuning in braking and traction, small improvements that will make the difference when it comes to fighting for the top positions at every circuit.”

Valentino Rossi - “I‘m happy about the weekend, because getting onto the podium is a good objective when coming here. On paper this track is the worst for our bike. I am satisfied about the weekend as a whole because we were always in the top 4-5 and we also weren‘t so bad on the wet. For it to be perfect I would have had to beat Dovizioso, but unfortunately he was a bit faster. I didn‘t have a chance to try, also because after six or seven laps of pushing a lot, I had to ride very smooth. For some reason our bike destroyed the front tyre. It‘s been like this in 2013 and last year, but this year, fortunately, Bridgestone brought a harder front. That helped me to arrive at the end of the race, but the tyre was still damaged. Dovi said to me that we risked a lot overtaking in turn 12. From the bike I didn‘t feel it and I thought we had some margin. We passed each other very closely, but there was enough space.”

On the Podium

Race Results at COTA:
Pos. No. Rider Bike Time / Diff.
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 43'47.150
2 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 2.354
3 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 3.12
4 99 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha 6.682
5 29 Andrea IANNONE Ducati 7.584
6 38 Bradley SMITH Yamaha 10.557
7 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 16.967
8 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Suzuki 19.025
9 25 Maverick VIÑALES Suzuki 38.57
10 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 41.796
11 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA Honda 47.199
12 8 Hector BARBERA Ducati 47.339
13 69 Nicky HAYDEN Honda 56.484
14 43 Jack MILLER Honda 56.731
15 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Aprilia 57.372
16 50 Eugene LAVERTY Honda 58.898
17 76 Loris BAZ Yamaha Forward +1'08.787
18 15 Alex DE ANGELIS ART +1'22.236

Not Classified  
  17 Karel ABRAHAM Honda 5 Laps
  33 Marco MELANDRI Aprilia 11 Laps
  68 Yonny HERNANDEZ Ducati 15 Laps
  63 Mike DI MEGLIO Ducati 15 Laps
  45 Scott REDDING Honda 16 Laps
  6 Stefan BRADL Yamaha Forward 18 Laps

Not Finished 1st Lap  
  44 Pol ESPARGARO Yamaha 0 Lap



Textual Content: Sachin Sen
Images Courtesy: www.motogp.com
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Item Reviewed: MotoGP 2015: COTA – Round Up Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sachin Sen
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