Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) was untouchable today as he raced to a dominant start-to-finish victory at the Circuit of the Americas for his second win of 2021.
Yesterday Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion secured his first front-row start since his comeback from a nine-month layoff through injury and he took full advantage of that to grab the lead in the rush to the first corner.
From there the 28-year-old Spaniard controlled the pace from the front, waiting until lap five before really pushing hard aboard his RC213V. He attacked with devastating effect, posting the fastest laps of the race on lap six and again on lap seven. During this stage of the race he stretched his lead to 1.5 seconds, a gap he expanded to 4.6 seconds at the chequered flag.
And Marquez had a unique celebration for his 58th win in the premier class of Grand Prix! On the podium he ate an American donut, after a bet he made with Honda Supercross rider and current 250cc MX Champion Jett Lawrence ahead of the event.
This majestic performance was entirely in keeping with Marquez’s amazing record on American asphalt – it was his seventh victory from eight outings at COTA, and his 13th from his past 14 trips across the Atlantic Ocean to the USA.
Nonetheless, the race was always going to be a huge physical test for Marquez, who still isn’t operating at full strength following the broken right arm he sustained last year. Not only is the COTA one of MotoGP’s most physically demanding circuits, the track surface is very bumpy, requiring riders to wrestle their machines over the bumps.
Yet Marquez never faded in the closing laps, which will give him huge confidence ahead of the final three races of the year. The result also sees Marquez climb two places in the World Championship standings, from ninth to seventh.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) ensured both Repsol RC213V machines finished inside the top ten by scoring important points for tenth place. The 30-year-old Spaniard could not find an ideal front-end set-up this weekend, so he wasn’t able to ride at his maximum. The former Moto2 World Champion had a rather lonely ride for much of the race, but the information and data he gathered during the 20 laps will help him take further steps forward for the closing stages of his first MotoGP season with Honda.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu Honda RC213V) had a disappointing race after a weekend of great promise. The 29-year-old from Chiba showed strong rhythm throughout free practice, qualified on the second row and topped this morning’s warm-up session, only for ill luck to arrive for the race
The two-time Grand Prix winner lost one position on the first lap and was attempting to fight back from there when he crashed at Turn 12 on the second lap, after hitting one of COTA’s many bumps. Nakagami valiantly remounted in 21st and posted a strong pace in the remainder of the race, claiming 17th place while also gaining valuable track time using some recently revised settings, which should help him in the final races of the year.
Team-mate Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol Honda RC213V) picked up solid points for 12th place after a challenging time during his first visit to COTA aboard a MotoGP bike. The 25-year-old Spaniard struggled with a lack of rear grip throughout the race, although he felt he could have finished in the top ten, but for a minor error on the seventh lap, which had him run off track at Turn 12.
MotoGP riders and teams now get two weekends to recover before the 2021 season commences its final phase with three races in four weeks, at Misano in Italy, the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal, and the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia.