Valentino Rossi secured third place at the Grand Prix of the Americas, despite a front tyre issue to continue his lead in the MOTOGP Standings
Starting from fourth on the grid, Rossi quickly moved up to third and got involved in a fight for the lead with rivals Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso. Putting pressure on him on lap seven, the Italians swapped places several times in a hard battle for second place before the nine-time World Champion shook off his compatriot one lap later. His efforts would turn out to be in vain though as he eventually lost out to Dovizioso, fading in the latter stages due to a tyre issue but maintaining his lead in the Championship standings with a 3rd placed finish: “I’m happy about the weekend, because getting onto the podium is a good objective when coming here. On paper this track is the worst for our bike. I am satisfied about the weekend as a whole because we were always in the top 4-5 and we also weren‘t so bad on the wet. For it to be perfect I would have had to beat Dovizioso, but unfortunately he was a bit faster. I didn‘t have a chance to try, also because after six or seven laps of pushing a lot, I had to ride very smooth. For some reason our bike destroyed the front tyre.”
Rossi went on to discuss that near-miss with Dovizioso: “Dovi said to me that we risked a lot overtaking in turn 12. From the bike I didn‘t feel it and I thought we had some margin. We passed each other very closely, but there was enough space.”
Marc Marquez took the lead on lap 5, and didn’t look back as he went on to leave the rest of the field behind to maintain his 100% record at CoTA, before relaxing towards the end of the race.Rossi dropped back one place but kept pushing to the maximum. However, a worn out front tyre prevented him from taking his position back. He crossed the finish line in third place, +3.120s from the front, retaining his lead in the championship.
Dovizioso made it two second-placed finishes in a row after seeing off the challenge of Rossi and finished the race 2.3s behind Marquez: “It was really special to get the podium as it confirmed our pace at a completely different track. It was a really strange race, as you have to manage the tyres, the speed and the energy, and it was very difficult but I managed it in a perfect way, Marc was just on a different level.”
His verdict on the incident with Rossi: “I thought that we would both crash, as he cut the line too much and I couldn’t reduce speed quick enough, it was very close, but thats racing.”
Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo left it late, overtaking the Ducati GP15 of Andrea Iannone with only three laps to go to snatch 4th place from the Italian: “We finished the race in the best way possible given the circumstances.”
He also mentioned how he suffered against the Ducati’s straight line speed: “I wasn‘t fit and the bike also needed some extra performance on some areas of the track, especially on the straight I lost a lot.”
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith was the leading Satellite rider as he ended up in 6th after looking like he might be in with a chance of a podium earlier in the race: “I began with a strong start and to jump from 10th up to 4th was pretty awesome. The risk I took to go around the outside of the pack at turn one paid off. I have been studying previous races and saw how other riders got pinched on the inside, so I decided to gamble and go around the outside. After that, I was running comfortably with the leaders for the first five laps, but when Marc went past Andrea I was just missing that extra bit of pace.”
CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow recovered from a poor start that saw him down in 10th on the opening lap to finish in 7th, six-seconds behind his compatriot Smith: “In the race itself we had some problems, I got caught up in the crash on the first lap and lost nearly five seconds in one lap and from that point it was very difficult to catch up. The whole CWM LCR Honda team need to regroup now and come back to the next race stronger as we were too far behind the winner today.”
Aleix Espargaro was a further 2 seconds back in 8th, as he finished 19 seconds ahead of his rookie teammate Maverick Viñales on the second Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR in 9th, as both riders put in impressive performances for the returning Factory team, despite still being down on power.
Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci completed the top ten, ahead of the Repsol Honda of Hiroshi Aoyama and the leading Open class bike of Hector Barbera on the Avintia Ducati.
Nicky Hayden won the battle of the Open Honda’s in front of his home crowd, claiming 13th place in his 200th MotoGP™ race after an exciting fight with the CWM LCR RC213V-RS of Jack Miller (14th), and Alvaro Bautista (15th) on the Factory Aprilia Racing Team Gresini who claimed the first points for the newly returned manufacturer.
Scott Redding crashed on the very first lap after outbreaking himself at turn 11 taking out Pol Espargaro in the process, much to the chagrin of the Spanish rider, with Abraham, Melandri, Hernandez, Di Meglio and Bradl also failing to finish the race.