Author: Bike Social Sports Reporter Posted: 09 Apr 2014
The Grand Prix paddock rides into Austin, Texas this weekend for the second round of the 2014 championships at the Circuit of the Americas and there are high hopes for a repeat of Qatar’s last-lap-thriller.
Marc Marquez took his first ever MotoGP victory at the circuit last year in a Repsol Honda domination, with nobody getting close to the then twenty-year-old rookie or his team mate, Dani Pedrosa. Taking victory in Qatar just weeks after breaking his leg, Marquez is by far the favourite for victory in Austin, but that’s not to say that others won’t try.
Yamaha will hope to be more competitive at the Texan track this year, especially following Valentino Rossi’s surge of form at the season opener in Doha. The Doctor struggled in Austin in 2013 but seems to be in a stronger position this time round. Jorge Lorenzo will also be hoping that Yamaha can pull through after a dismal weekend in Qatar. One thing the Japanese factory’s riders have on their side is that Bridgestone will provide the 2013-spec tyre for the round after production issues with the 2014 specification rubber. All four prototype Yamaha riders have complained about a lack of edge grip on the rear 2014-spec tyre so far this season.
After crashing out of potential podium positions in Qatar, Stefan Bradl, Alvaro Bautista and Bradley Smith will be looking to make amends this time out. All three riders showed impressive pace across the weekend at Losail and will be looking to carry this momentum through to Austin. However they should face a tougher challenge from the factory bikes, which had a disadvantage in Qatar having not tested at the circuit.
Also looking to make his mark will be Aleix Espargaro on the open-specification Forward Yamaha. The Spaniard was pretty much a dead cert for pole position on the Saturday in Qatar until he binned it twice in Q3. The rapid open-spec M1 clearly has the speed but Espargaro seemed to buckle under the obvious pressure, something he’ll need to overcome to achieve the results he’s more than capable of.
Leading the home charge will be Kentucky-kid, Nicky Hayden who lost out to Scott Redding for seventh place in Qatar. The pair of production Honda riders know full a repeat of their top ten finishes will be hard in Austin on the underpowered RCV1000R.
In Moto2, MarcVDS will be looking to continue their domination after taking a 1-2 in Qatar following Takaaki Nakagami’s disqualification for using an illegal air filter. The Japanese rider, who is still to take his debut victory, will be keen to make up the points lost in Qatar but with Esteve Rabat riding like he is, it’ll be a tough ask.
Jack Miller will carry winning momentum through to Austin after an impressive victory in Qatar, although Honda’s pairing of Marquez and Rins will be keen to make up for the ground lost in just the last lap of the race at Losail.