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Marc Márquez Takes First Win at COTA


Repsol Honda Team's Marc Márquez becomes the youngest ever MotoGP winner in Austin

The checkered flag was waved at the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas in Austin as Repsol Honda Racing's Marc Márquez takes the win and earns a new title: the youngest ever MotoGP winner. The 20-year-old rising star has put on an incredible performance this weekend in what was only his second MotoGP race of his career. This stellar jump to the top of the pack has made him a fan favorite and puts him in the fight for the championship title this year.

Following behind Márquez, Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo secured second and third in the race, respectively. The race started as it finished for the top three riders, although a poor start by Márquez left him fighting Pedrosa until lap 13 when he made a move into Turn 7. The two Hondas, battling it out in front, showed off their dominating performance this weekend as the gap with Lorenzo in third position grew with each of the twenty-one total laps.

Following the race, Márquez shared his enthusiasm for his new record as youngest MotoGP winner, an impressive crown previously held by American Freddie Spencer in 1983. When asked about his thoughts on today's race, Márquez said:

After taking my first podium in Qatar I was very happy, but I am even more so today after my first win! It went better than I expected and I am very grateful to the team for their efforts over the preseason; we have worked very hard and, without this, the victory would not have been possible. The race was very intense and physical, as I followed Dani for many laps and then decided to launch an attack and try to open a gap with ten laps to go. I could not pull the gap I wanted as some problems emerged that we’d experienced throughout the weekend. Despite all this, we were able to take the victory. The 25 points are important, but what is more important is to have achieved a win in my second race in MotoGP. We realise that more difficult circuits lie ahead for us, but we will try to give 100% at all of them. Our battle is not the one for the championship, but rather taking it race-by-race and enjoying every moment.

Today's race was not only a great event overall but will likely help propel Márquez into the spotlight for the remainder of the year. Earning a podium finish in his first event at Qatar and then a win here in Austin, Márquez has solidified his position as a serious fighter who is willing to take risks and challenge the many more experienced riders on the track. With 16 races left in the season there remain many challenges for the young rider, but this notch in his belt is one that will is remembered forever.

First Look: Inaugural MotoGP Trophies

Red Bull, the title sponsor of today's inaugural MotoGP race at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, shared these photos of the winners' trophies for the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas. 

Valentino Rossi's Take on Qualifying

Valentino Rossi, #46 with Yamaha Factory Racing

Valentino Rossi is one of only two riders that has competed at all thirteen previous MotoGP races held in the USA (along with Texan Colin Edwards). This weekend’s Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas will be the 35th different circuit that Rossi has raced at since he started his MotoGP career in 2002. The 34 year old Italian, affectionately called “The Doctor,” is a worldwide fan favorite who is known for his animated expressions, playful antics and fun-loving attitude. Rossi will line up eighth on the grid for tomorrow’s race after qualifying with a best lap time of 2’05.380. Following the session, we listened in on the following interview.

VR: We expect to go better but we have to be able to fix the problem in braking and especially the first part; I lose too much. But anyway, we have tomorrow...we know that this weekend, this track can be more difficult. We have to make a good race, to try to achieve some position and take some point.

Media: Which would be the best combination of tyres for tomorrow?

VR: Eh, I don’t know but I think hard or soft. I think, more or less, everybody. So I have some question mark but I think (hard).

Media: So it seems as if the Hondas are in a different league. Can you catch them or is it a case of catching the rest?

VR: Yeah, the Honda is very fast, yeah. And…bigger. They have a big advantage, I think. I think would be difficult.

Media: Best of the rest? 

VR: Eh, ha ha, difficult. But easy if we are able to prove the setting we can; the target is try to stay with Crutchlow, try to stay with Bradl, and after, we’ll see.

Needless to say, Valentino seems honest about the performance of the Yamaha leading into tomorrow's race. Knowing that they do not have the pace of the Hondas and are struggling with grip on track, Rossi will push hard to continue to develop the bike.

Despite a challenging weekend so far, "The Doctor" has consistently had swarms of fans waiting outside of the Yamaha Factory Team pit boxes and throughout the paddock to snap a photo, snag an autograph or simply wish him "Buona fortuna!" His fans are unscathed; their enthusiasm is only rivaled by his charisma and it's easy to see why he is one of the most beloved riders and ambassadors in the MotoGP paddock.

You can follow Valentino Rossi on his Facebook page, his Twitter feed, on Instagram or check out his dedicated website.

Pedrosa Fastest in Practice Three

Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa during Friday's practice session at Circuit of The Americas (Image by Keith Rizzo, COTA)

// Free Practice Three

The MotoGP grid returned to the track for a third practice session this morning with Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa shaving over a second from his previous practice time (2'05.585) and setting the pace for the session (2'04.408). Following behind were Marquez (2'04.795), Lorenzo (2'05.295) and Crutchlow. (2'05.630) The riders will continue their preparations for the qualifying session later this afternoon.

Pedrosa’s teammate Marc Marquez took second position in the practice session following a crash on the entrance to Turn 19 early in the session. The MotoGP rookie for the Repsol Honda team lost the rear end of his bike while beginning the lead into to the penultimate corner, causing him to tumble over the top of his bike, land on his side and slide across the run-off into the gravel. Marquez recovered quickly and returned to the track, holding the top time for the session until the final few minutes when he was eclipsed by his teammate.

Marquez’s spill echoes what many Formula 1 drivers experienced in November: the off-camber geometry of Turn 19 creates difficulty in setting up for the turn-in. Like the first practice sessions of F1 at COTA, many riders in MotoGP are struggling to maintain balance after exiting the wide sweeping right turns of 16-18 and properly setup Turn 19, causing many to overshoot and be forced to sacrifice grip or their line into Turn 20. A deceptively simple turn, this will cause problems for many riders, so keep an eye on how they continue to develop their skills in the last sector of the track; it could make the difference in tomorrow’s race.

// Official Standings

Here’s the full line-up following FP3 this morning (Lukas Pesek and Mike Barnes fell outside of 107%): 

  1. Dani Pedrosa
  2. Marc Marquez
  3. Jorge Lorenzo
  4. Cal Crutchlow
  5. Stefan Bradl
  6. Andrea Dovizioso
  7. Valentino Rossi
  8. Alvaro Bautista
  9. Nicky Hayden
  10. Ben Spies
  11. Aleix Espargaro
  12. Bradley Smith
  13. Andrea Iannone
  14. Randy de Puniet
  15. Yonny Hernandez
  16. Karel Abraham
  17. Danilo Petrucci
  18. Hector Barbera
  19. Claudio Corti
  20. Hiroshi Aoyama
  21. Colin Edwards
  22. Michael Laverty
  23. Bryan Staring
  24. Blake Young



Interview with Ducati's Nicky Hayden

American Nicky Hayden, #69 with Ducati TeamThere are three Americans currently competing in the MotoGP World Championship and one of them is Kentucky native Nicky Hayden, aka the "Kentucky Kid." Hayden started riding at age 3, racing at age 5, and, at age 18, won the AMA Supersport crown. In 2002 he became the youngest ever AMA Superbike Champion and was rewarded with a promotion to MotoGP with the Repsol Honda factory team.

In 2005, just three years into his MotoGP career with the Repsol Honda team, Nicky won his first race on American soil at Laguna Seca in California. The following year, Hayden fulfilled a lifelong dream and earned the 2006 MotoGP World Championship after a season-long battle with Valentino Rossi. At 31 years of age, Hayden has now started in 168 MotoGP races, won three, and been crowned World Champion; a well earned career for this young American motorsports star.

Racing for the Ducati Team in Friday's practice sessions at Circuit of The Americas, Hayden's top speed was 207.16 mph with a peak lap time of 2:07.699. We caught up with Nicky Friday afternoon to get his insight into the new American circuit. 

AGP: What parts of the track do you find most interesting?

NH: Well obviously Turn 1, as you can tell, it’s pretty interesting. But I would say I kinda like the stadium section. Even though it is really slow, and I’m sure some people probably don’t like it because it’s, ya know, it’s first gear, but ah, it’s quite fun and quite technical. But the best is, the, uh, I don’t know the number off the top of my head, but the downhill left-hander. The blind one there is pretty good.

(Hayden is most likely referring to Turn 10.)

AGP: What do you think about from a fan’s perspective, where do you think they’ll see a lot of action?

NH: Well I’m not, uh…I’m not an expert on that, I haven’t been out watching, so, I can’t really say, but I think they’re gonna get their money’s worth, obviously. That stadium section has gotta be good cause you can see a lot. I can see a lot of people there because you can sit in one spot, watch part of the track on the big screen and then see four or five corners. But the best is probably up in that Tower. But I’m not sure how easy it’s gonna be to get up there for the general fan but if you can get up there I’d say take your lawn chair and go post up there!

AGP: What do you think about Austin as a city so far, as a destination?

NH: I mean, I like it…for me it’s awesome to come cause it’s so close to home, so easy and pretty convenient. So far downtown is uh, well, you know, I haven’t really seen a lot of it because I’ve been at the track mostly. But for me, it’s like more or less being at home compared to a lot of places I go so I like it.

Stay tuned to see what the Kentucky Kid has in store for us this weekend. You can follow along via Hayden's Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram feed or go to his autograph session at the Grand Plaza inside Turn 19 on Saturday at 4:30PM.