Brits head to Texas on a MotoGP™ charge
Cal Crutchlow and John McPhee jet into Texas this weekend chasing at least a repeat of their podium finishes at the last round, in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin on Sunday. Isle of Man-based Midlander Crutchlow finished third on the LCR Honda in the MotoGP™ race in Argentina and faces the third round of the Championship with renewed confidence after finishing behind the Movistar Yamaha pair of Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi two weeks ago. His best result in Austin is fourth in 2013.
22-year old Oban-based Scotsman McPhee has hit the ground running on his debut season in the new British Talent Honda team. He’s finished second in the opening two rounds behind 19-year-old Spaniard Joan Mir and is ready to push on to his second grand prix victory in the 18 lap Moto3™ race on Sunday round the 3.426 miles Circuit of the Americas.
Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding has made an equally impressive and consistent start to his MotoGP season. Riding the Octo Pramac GP16 Ducati the former 125cc and Moto2™ grand prix winner is fourth in the Championship after finishing seventh and eighth in the opening two rounds in Qatar and Argentina. Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith scored his first point of the season in Argentina and together with team-mate Pol Espargaro the KTM factory team’s first ever MotoGP points. Again they race into the unknown with the Austrian team at a circuit they have never competed at in a MotoGP race or test.
Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes is one of two British winners at Austin. He won the 2015 Moto2 race and needs some points on Sunday after a difficult start to his MotoGP career on the Gresini Aprilia. He was a lot happier in Argentina despite finally being side-lined with a gearbox problem. The other British winner was Danny Kent in the Moto3 race two years ago. It’s been tough start to the Moto2 season for the Wiltshire rider who crashed out a couple of weeks ago in Argentina.
The big question is can the three riders who have won the opening two grands prix of the season make it a hat trick of victories when the 2017 MotoGP™ World Championship flies into Texas on Sunday? Maverick Vinales, Franco Mordbidelli and Joan Mir won their respective races in Qatar and Argentina but face a very different challenge in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin.
Maverick Vinales, who has brilliantly won the opening two MotoGP rounds on his Movistar Yamaha debut, faces a head to head challenge with World Champion Marc Marquez. The Repsol Honda rider, who has yet to secure a 2017 podium finish, has never been beaten in Austin winning all four MotoGP races at the demanding 3.426 miles Circuit of the Americas. Valentino Rossi, Vinales’ Yamaha team-mate, has finished third and second in the opening couple of rounds and would love to go one better at the circuit where he crashed last year. While Rossi trails his team-mate by 14 points in the championship Marquez knows that nothing short of a victory will suffice to close the massive 37 point gap between himself and his fellow Spaniard.
There are a number of top riders looking to get back to points scoring ways after disasters in Argentina. The factory Ducati duo of Andrea Dovizioso, who has a couple of Austin podiums and Jorge Lorenzo, who was second last year, both crashed out. Andrea Iannone, who was replaced by Lorenzo at Ducati and who finished second last year, has crashed on both his Ecstar Suzuki appearances. Dani Pedrosa was another faller in Argentina leaving the way open to the consistent points scores to climb the championship table. Scott Redding on the Octo Pramac Ducati is fourth, Jonas Folger an impressive sixth on his Monster Tech3 Yamaha MotoGP debut season and last year’s Assen winner, Australian Jack Millar seventh.
Then you have to throw into the mix in the 21 lap race the riders who crashed out in Qatar but fought back strongly in Argentina. Heading the list is Cal Crutchlow who was third riding the LCR Honda followed by Alvaro Bautista who was fourth on the Pull and Bear Aspar GP16 Ducati. Moto2™ World Champion Johann Zarco led on his MotoGP debut in Qatar before crashing, but fought hard for fifth in Argentina, is one place ahead of the impressive Aleix Espargaro on the Gresini Aprilia.
Italian Franco Morbidelli won his first Moto2™ grand prix and took his first pole position in Qatar and has not looked back. The EG 0.0 Marc VDS rider made it two in a row in Argentina despite the challenge of his team-mate Alex Marquez who crashed out. Portuguese star Miguel Oliveira gave the new KTM team a superb second place with Mr Consistency Tom Luthi in third. Takaaki Nakagami will chase a repeat of his Qatar podium after an Argentine crash, with Italian Lorenzo Baldassarri chasing a podium after his fourth last time out. Moto3™ World Champion Brad Binder misses out after a plate came loose in his previously broken left arm.
19-year old Spaniard Joan Mir has been in brilliant form to win the opening two Moto3™ races riding the Leopard Racing Honda. In Argentina he started from 16th on the grid to win from John McPhee who has also started his season in superb style. Riding the British Talent Honda, he’s finished second in both races with Spaniard Jorge Martin third both times on the Del Conca Gresini Honda. There are a bevy of riders ready to challenge the leading trio headed by former Austin winner Romano Fenati.
BT SPORT 2
Friday 21 April: 15.00 – 22.00
Saturday 22 April: 15.00 – 22.15
Sunday 23 April: 15.00 – 22.00
Highlights Monday April 24 19.00
talkSport2 will also have live commentary of the race on Sunday.