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Next Event Starts in:
3hrs 24min - MotoGP Qualifying
Apr 25, 2024
Stewart Lyons

As the championship rolled into Austin the talk was about 2 things. Firstly the acquisition of MotoGP by Liberty Media (the owners of the rights for Formula One), and secondly the crash between Marquez and Bagnaia at The Portuguese GP.

Liberty Media have undoubtedly grown Formula One over the last few years with more races in more countries being added to the calendar. It remains to be seen whether this is a new dawn for MotoGP.

Bagnaia as the pre-season favourite after an amazing two seasons and two World Championships has struggled to get to grips with the new Ducati. A coming together with Marquez for which Bagnaia was most likely at fault is not the start he needed. Writing him off so early in the season would be foolish with some many points still up for grabs but Bagnaia came into COTA knowing a good result would position him nicely for the rest of the season.


Practice and qualifying provided a few surprises. The lack of pace for the factory KTMs alongside the competitiveness of the GasGas KTM ridden by Acosta topped the surprises. Acosta qualified second on the grid with Binder failing to reach Q2 and Jack Miller needing a good lap in Q1 to make it through to Q2.

A shock pole position went to Maverick Vinales, a clear three tenths quicker than any other rider. Marc Marquez carried on his impressive start on the Ducati completing the front row alongside Vinales and Acosta. Pre-season Championship favourites Bagnaia and Martin were on the second row.

The Sprint

The sprint race was dominated by Vinales. Maverick stormed to his second sprint race victory of the season, pushing himself up the championship standings. He started well, pulled a gap and then controlled the race from then on.

Behind Vinales it was Marquez, Acosta and Martin who battled for the remaining podium places. Having sat behind Marquez and feeling like he had more pace Acosta made a move on Marquez just before half race distance. Marquez was wise to the move and overtook back before the next corner, forcing Acosta off line. The time Acosta lost in the move gave Marquez a gap that Martin and Acosta could never regain. Martin passed Acosta shortly afterwards and the podium was settled.

Elsewhere, Bagnaia’s terrible start dropped him down the order and he was never able to fully recover, finishing in eighth. Raul Fernandez picked up his first point of the season in ninth.

The Race

Race day saw a very different race than the sprint. Vinales made a steady start off the line only to fall down to eleventh due to contact into the uphill turn one. It was Pedro Acosta who took the lead initially only to be then swallowed up by Martin, Marquez and Bagnaia.

As the race progressed Vinales was making steady progress, consistently lapping as fast or faster than the bikes in front, slowly recovering from his bad start.

Marc Marquez made numerous attempts for the lead and out braked himself a couple of times, though he eventually did overtake Acosta for the lead as Martin’s tyres started to fade. Marquez then looked to make a break. Unfortunately this ended in disaster as Marquez lost the front end into turn 11, a crash he was unable to recover from.

The rookie Pedro Acosta was now leading, his main problem was Vinales was surging from behind. Vinales had recovered from his terrible opening lap and was now the closest contender. Vinales closed in, made the pass and settled to a pace that kept him in front with a comfortable buffer.

A strong finish from Bastianini gave him the final podium place ahead of Martin and Bagnaia. Further down the two VR46 bikes had a solid race finishing sixth and eighth. A gutsy ride from Binder with a broken finger saw him rise up through the order to ninth. The biggest disappointment would be Jack Miller, who showed early pace with the leaders and then fell down the order finishing thirteenth of the sixteen finishers

Vinales went on to win the race, the first rider to win with three different manufacturers in MotoGP history . Will he be able to prove he can be consistent and perform well, we will find out in the next race at Jerez in two weeks.

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