Honda’s four MotoGP riders turn their attention to North America this weekend, following MotoGP’s South American adventure in Argentina earlier this month.
The Grand Prix of the Americas takes place at the Circuit of the Americas, outside the bustling city of Austin in Texas. The event has proved a happy hunting ground for Honda since its addition to the MotoGP World Championship in 2013.
That 2013 Americas GP was an historic event, because Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) broke two hugely significant records: on Saturday 20th April he became the youngest rider to start a premier-class Grand Prix from pole position and the following day he became the youngest rider to win a premier-class GP. Both records still stand.
Since then Marquez has won a further six GPs at COTA, in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2021. And the six-times MotoGP World Champion may have won last year’s race too, but for a technical glitch that put him last at the first corner. He recovered remarkably to finish in sixth place.
Sadly the 30-year-old Spaniard won’t be at COTA this weekend, because he is recovering from a hand injury sustained when he crashed out of last month’s season-opening Portuguese GP. Surgeons fixed the broken first metacarpal on his right hand with screws, hoping that he would be fit to ride at COTA. However, the bone is still in the healing process, so his comeback has been delayed.
His two RC213V machines will therefore be ridden by Honda’s MotoGP test rider Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), who arrives in Texas after a two-day test at Jerez, Spain earlier this week.
Marquez’s new team-mate Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) is also recovering from injury but is ready to tackle COTA. The 25-year-old Spaniard sustained neck and ankle injuries when he crashed out of the Argentine GP sprint race, a new Saturday feature of MotoGP weekends.
Mir, who won the 2017 Moto3 World Championship and the 2020 MotoGP crown, is still adapting himself to the RC213V, making steady forward progress with his machine.
His former team-mate Alex Rins (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) is in the same situation. The 27-year-old Spaniard, who won the 2019 MotoGP race at COTA, also moved to Honda for 2023. He is learning plenty about his new motorcycle every time he goes out and he learned lots in Argentina which should help him push closer to the front this weekend.
Rins’ team-mate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) is riding his fifth MotoGP season with Honda and is working harder than ever as he focuses on his ambition of scoring a first podium finish in the premier class. The 31-year-old from Chiba scored points in both the season-opening Portuguese GP race and the Argentine GP, so he has plenty to build on as he tackles COTA.
The Circuit of the Americas was constructed in 2012 and staged its first MotoGP event the following year. Since 2016 it has been the only American venue in the MotoGP World Championship.
Along with its stunning facilities, COTA’s 5.5 km/3.43 miles layout is as varied as it is challenging. The 20 corners offer everything from fast, flowing sections, to heavy braking corners and short, sharp acceleration bursts. The impressive undulations on the run up to Turn One and down to Turn Two help make this is one of the most technical tracks on the calendar.
After Sunday’s racing the paddock heads to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix on 30th April. The European season then continue with races in France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.