Austin, Texas: Time For The MotoGP Bucking Bulls To Get Underway!
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Austin, Texas: Time For The MotoGP Bucking Bulls To Get Underway!

By FORMULAMotoGPMag - 02 October 2021

Author: Myanna Wedes

The MotoGP riders have crossed the oceans and arrived in the United States of America for the COTA MotoGP race of 2021. Texas Hold’em as they say with Marc Marquez the number one rider when you look towards the history books at this circuit. Could the first win for 2021 arrive for Marquez at a circuit he loves to race on? There is a chance that it could be a wet race and this curve ball is sure to upset the rhythm of riders like Fabio Quartararo and Pecco Bagnaia who are yet to master the mixed and wet conditions with almighty confidence. We anticipate if the weather remains mixed, it will be a battle between Marquez and Jack Miller as both riders demonstrate confidence at this circuit and by utilising the weather to the best of their ability. With the sad news of the loss of Maverick Vinales cousin Dean Berta Viñales in a racing accident, MV25 will not be racing this weekend as the family deals with the tragic loss. We are sending the best wishes to Maverick and his entire family, race team, fellow riders, team personnel and fans that were a part of the terrible weekend that took such a young life. Motor racing can be so cruel at times, though this the risk a rider understands when they go out on track time and time again. As a result, Aprilia Team Gresini will be relying solely on the performance of Aleix Espargaro this weekend. As the weeks go by, the Italian manufacturer is certainly showcasing why they decided to employ Espargaro in the beginning as their lead rider for development and their progression overall has been superb.

The Circuit Of The Americas has been resurfaced although by the sounds of things, the riders are still not satisfied. One rider of the past who was always vocal about the bumps was Andrea Dovizioso and especially during his time with the Ducati Corse MotoGP Team. We have heard that riders after the first sessions felt the circuit was unsafe, dangerous, and overall a joke. Complaints are common amongst riders although some will just keep their lips closed, get on with the job and go out there to win. The psychological games of constantly bringing up issues with the track can also throw other riders off, making them question their confidence to ride on the limit. Right now, we have some bikes performing, some riders performing, whilst others look to find solutions. It appears in 2022, the Honda machines will be far more enjoyable to ride and with the testing schedule at Misano, it looks as though the horizon is brighter for those riding with the Honda machines. With many races still to take place, we are excited to see how this weekend unfolds!

Credit - (Marc Marquez)

Marc Marquez:

“I am looking forward to Austin and we’re arriving there after two good races, in Aragon and then in Misano. It’s a layout that I like and in the past we have had a lot of success but this year is a little bit different with our situation arriving there. Like always, it’s going to be important to build over the weekend and see where we line up on Sunday morning. No matter what it will be great to return because it’s a round I always enjoy a lot.”

Jack Miller:

"I'm thrilled to be back racing in the United States. I like the track here in Austin, and I was on the podium the last time we raced here in 2019, so I hope to repeat that this year. In the last race at Misano and in the two days of testing that we had last week at the same track, I had really good feelings on the bike, so I'm confident heading into this GP, and I am aiming of fighting for a good result here in America".

Aleix Espargaro:

"We started with a setting that was very close to the one we used in Misano, but it is clear that we’ll have to radically change the RS-GP. The asphalt is in poor condition, much worse than I remembered, and the times show it. After speaking with the techs, we decided to try and find stability on the bumps, without considering any of the disadvantages that might be generated by this setting. Considering the danger and how easy it is to make mistakes, it’s the only way to go."

Momentum is everything in this sport and Pecco Bagnaia has been on fire. The question is whether he can keep this going? The feeling with his Ducati has improved significantly race by race, though this circuit is not an easy track with the first sector guaranteed to push the limits although with a new surface, this could combat the bumps that the Ducati riders have experienced in the past as quite frustrating to deal with. We are waiting to see how each team reacts to the circuit after rubber is laid down. Starting the weekend right and being at the front is a key element to ensure a top qualifying position and not being caught in traffic. If you are caught, it becomes a frustrating race of playing catch up. This weekend, we are hoping to see Miller at the front and fighting for victory because he has dealt with some poor tyre performance of late and he is due some rewards for the efforts put in with the red machine.

Credit - (Pecco Bagnaia)

Pecco Bagnaia:

"These days of rest before the race in the United States and after the Misano test were useful for me to recharge and let the two victories sink in, especially the last one taken at my home track! Both in Aragón and Misano, I felt comfortable on the bike right from Friday's free practices, and in general, my feeling on the Desmosedici has been very positive in the last two races. I hope to have the same feeling here in Austin and be as competitive this weekend. The gap in the Championship is still big, and there are only four races left, so it will be crucial to be consistent and bring home as many points as possible".

On the other hand, this weekend is vital for Monster Energy Yamaha rider Quartararo. No matter how significant the lead is in the title, anything can happen, so starting and finishing in the top five is a must for the French rider. The back straight is going to be difficult for Quartararo and the other Yamaha riders, although the first and last sectors are where he will probably pick up some good time. Quartararo will go for it if he feels the timing is right and position on track not comprising to his title lead. So, the questions remain: will Fabulous Fabio qualify on pole again and have to battle some seriously fast Ducati riders in amongst the Marquez dominance that is a part of the history books at COTA.

Teammate, Franco Morbidelli, will have his work cut out for him as he works to battle the bike at a demanding circuit and a fitness level that is yet to be determined. They are moving forward in the right direction, though the chances of him fighting at the front are slim considering his lack of time on board this model machine and of course determining how far he can push his knee that has only just recovered. With a direct comparison in regard to fitness, Johann Zarco has successfully had arm pump surgery and is feeling up to the task to fight this weekend. It is great news for the French rider as his season was turned upside down for the title race due to the feeling a lack of control and pain as a result of the injury. We except to see him in fine form this weekend, pushing the riders to the ultimate edges of the track and going all out because he has nothing to lose.

Credit - (Fabio Quartararo)

Fabio Quartararo:

“We start the race weekend in Austin with a 48-point advantage, and after this there are three more races, so my mentality stays the same as it was in Misano. Originally my goal was not to think about the championship until the San Marino GP, but I have decided to keep it going. I think that’s the right thing for me: to be in the moment and fight for the victory if I can. In Misano that nearly gave my mum a heart attack and my dad for sure enjoyed it a lot. I’ve had this idea already at the beginning of the year that ‘no matter if I’m fighting for the championship or not, I want to win’. That was the case in Misano, and I want it to stay like this.”

Franco Morbidelli:

“I enjoy riding in Austin. It’s a track that’s tough and difficult, but I really like it. In 2019, the last time we rode there with MotoGP, I had a good result. I hope to be there, improve the feeling with the bike, and improve my overall performance. We made a really good step during the Misano Test. I definitely had more feeling already in the final lap on Day 2 than I did in the first few laps on Day 1. This is already positive. We are moving forward and are trying to improve as fast as we can.”

Finishing with a good result is vital this weekend for Team Suzuki Ecstar not only for the rider title with Joan Mir in third, but it is also about developing their machine and becoming competitive at almost every circuit. Right now, it has been a troublesome season for Suzuki with lack of team personnel to manage certain aspects to ease the workload, constant crashing by Alex Rins, lack of performance in comparison to other manufacturers developing at faster rates and overall sheer frustration with Mir wanting to win and not being able to do so as a result of his machinery. Qualifying is key and an area both riders need to address for the 2022 season because it has been their downfall. If anything, Mir qualifying so far down each race has created double the workload for himself and must find a way to improve. It will be nice to see Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso work together for the remainder of the season with PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team and watch the development take place especially since a new team will be born in the 2022 season. It is the last time American fans will get to witness the Rossi greatness and we are sure they will enjoy watching him race regardless of track position.

Alex Rins:

“I really like this circuit but I found it a lot more demanding than in the past, it’s super bumpy and we’re all fighting with our bikes to stay on the right line and not get too out of shape. But overall it’s been a good day, trying both wet and dry conditions. It’s hard to know what the weather will be like tomorrow, but it looks like it will be wet in the morning so I should go directly to Q2. That’s good news, obviously, but we still need to work on a few things.”

Joan Mir:

“It’s a shame that I missed out on the Top 10 today, because tomorrow morning could be wet, but today was more difficult than I expected. My first priority is to get the bike how we want it. I’m searching for more stability, especially in the first sectors of the lap; the track is really tricky. It doesn’t really make a difference to me if tomorrow is wet or dry, the main thing is to improve my feeling because it’s very difficult with these bad bumps on the track, it unsettles the bike.”

Valentino Rossi:

“I really like Austin and the last time we raced there, it was a great weekend for me. I was very strong in both Qualifying and the race, and I finished on the podium. We will see what happens when we get there but it is really nice that we are able to have this overseas event this season and I am really looking forward to being back there, after being unable to be there last year. We will need to get there to understand what our potential can be, but I’m feeling positive and hopefully we can improve some of the things that we need to, so that we can have a good race.”

Andrea Dovizioso:

“There are still a lot of areas that I need to work on, but it was good to have the Misano Test to help increase my time on the bike. I’m not sure what to expect from this weekend, as I will need to see what situation the track is in and I will need to find where the grip is. It is a very demanding track and last time I was there the track had a lot of bumps, however I think they have made some changes since then. The weather will of course have an impact, but it will be the same for everyone. It’s very difficult to predict what will happen but I hope to continue making progress this weekend.”

Be sure to tune in and enjoy the weekend action. A reminder to Australian fans that the race will take place on Monday morning at 6:00 AM (AEST). The bucking bulls are coming, the weather is mixed and that makes for a superb racing weekend.

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