After Three Straight Wins, Is Marquez Unbeatable at Austin?

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Honda’s Marc Marquez likes racing in the United States, apparently, having won all three Austin, Texas MotoGP events beginning in his rookie year of 2013. He has also ridden well at Indianapolis and Laguna Seca (chocking up a total of four MotoGP wins at those venues). If his performance in practice on the opening day of this year’s event is any indication, Marquez might just extend his winning streak on Sunday.

Marquez was quickest in both FP1 and FP2 … ending with a sizeable gap over the second quickest rider in FP2, Ducati’s Andrea Iannone.

Here is a press release from Honda previewing this weekend’s MotoGP event:

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) arrive in Texas this week still buzzing from a superb double-podium finish in last Sunday’s thrilling Argentine Grand Prix.

Marquez took his first victory of 2016 by an amazing seven seconds, thanks to his genius riding and brilliant engineering input from HRC and his Repsol Honda team. The win also moved the Spaniard into the championship lead and brings him back to the country where he has a remarkable record of success. Marquez is unbeaten in the MotoGP and Moto2 classes in the USA: that’s an amazing record of nine victories over five seasons at three different racetracks: Austin’s COTA, Indianapolis and Laguna Seca.

The 2013/2014 MotoGP king has won all three MotoGP races at COTA – including his maiden premier-class win at the track on April 21st 2013 – in addition to the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Indianapolis GPs and the 2013 US GP at Laguna Seca. He also won the 2011 and 2012 Moto2 races at Indianapolis, riding a Honda CBR600RR-powered Kalex.

Marquez will be looking to extend that record this weekend, but he knows it won’t be easy, despite his unbeaten race and pole-position record at COTA. The 23-year-old knows as well as anyone that MotoGP’s new technical regulations are making the racing more difficult to predict than ever, so despite his earlier pace at COTA he will need to start all over again this week, working to get the best out of the category’s brand-new control software and Michelin tires.

Pedrosa has also shown impressive speed at COTA. The former 125 and 250 World Champion chased his team-mate home in the 2013 and 2014 Americas races and would have been similarly competitive last year. Sadly, he missed the 2015 race because he was recuperating from surgery to fix an arm-pump problem.

The Argentine GP was both lucky and unlucky for Pedrosa. Barged off the track at the first corner, he completed the first lap way down in 15th place. From there he set about making up ground, his finishing position boosted by several top riders crashing out in the closing stages of the race.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) is hoping for his first finish of 2016 after sliding out of the Qatar and Argentine GPs. In Qatar the Briton fell due to a glitch with the control electronics and last weekend he was one of six victims of the low-grip conditions at the Termas del Rio Hondo circuit. Despite those disappointments, Crutchlow knows he is fast on his 2016 RC213V, so he has a very realistic hope of running up front this weekend.

Team-mates Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) and Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) will continue their learning process at COTA. Miller is riding his first season aboard a factory-spec MotoGP machine, after spending his rookie campaign on a lower-spec Open bike. The young Australian showed spectacular speed last weekend, smoking his rear tire around the Termas track, but while he learned plenty over the three days, he also fell several times, including a race tumble, when he was holding an impressive sixth place

Rabat made his MotoGP debut in Qatar last month and scored his first points. Last weekend the 2014 Moto2 champ took his first top-ten result in the premier class, keeping his head in the tricky conditions to finish ninth. The Spaniard knows he is still learning to master a MotoGP machine but he certainly knows the fast way around COTA, having scored two second-place finishes in the 2013 and 2014 Honda-powered Moto2 races.

Honda MotoGP rider quotes

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
“We’ll see how we manage here in Austin this year. It’s a track that I like, where I feel strong, and where I’ve always had good races and good fun. That said, the track rewards strong acceleration, which hasn’t been one of our strongest points so far this year, so we’ll have to wait and see how we can manage the situation. We’ll keep working hard, as we did in Argentina, and we’ll try to find the best pace for the Sunday race.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
“I’m looking forward to this round. There’s something special about the atmosphere of the American races, and besides, this is a track that I like very much. I didn’t make it here last year, but I made the podium the previous two seasons so the memories of the track are good. Our pace in the first two rounds hasn’t been as good as we would’ve liked, and we absolutely need to keep working to find some more speed; all in all, we’re third in the championship, and we need to make a step forward if we want to fight for the podium at every race.”

Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda
“To say I was disappointed with the result in Argentina is an understatement. I had the pace to finish on the podium but I didn’t. Two Grands Prix have gone and I have two non-finishes. But they were two Grands Prix in which I felt I could have had two top-five finishes. That’s obviously easier said than done but my pace around the same as the lap times Valentino [Rossi] was doing. We can take some positives that we were fast enough even though I had a bad feeling with the front tire. I’m looking forward to getting to Austin. I need to get away with the front group and Honda has a really good record there. My team and Honda are happy with how I rode in the past two races, which gives me good confidence going forward.”

Jack Miller, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
“I really enjoy the Circuit of the Americas. I won the Moto3 race in 2014 and I have a lot of fun riding there. It should offer better grip than we had in Argentina, so hopefully we can adapt the bike quickly. The result wasn’t what we wanted in Argentina but we found some good improvements with the bike and I was able to make some steps with my riding style better that suited the package more. The positives far outweighed the negatives last weekend. Now I’ve just got to make sure I don’t push as hard!”

Tito Rabat, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
“I think I have been very clever in Qatar and Argentina because I have understood my limit and I made sure I’ve finished in both to gain some crucial experience. The first day in Austin will be the same as the first two races and I’ll be adapting myself to the track on a MotoGP bike. I will be happy again if I continue to make progress in every session and the target will be to fight with the middle group. In Qatar I was so far away but in Argentina I was closer. I want to make another step and fight with a bigger group to help me learn more.”

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Source: www.motorcycledaily.com