It was just another day at the COTA office for Marc Marquez as he claimed his seventh pole position ahead of the race on Sunday. MotoGP veteran Valentino Rossi and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow closed off the top three positions.
The territory was marked in 2013 when reigning MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez won his first race at the Red Bull Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas. Fast forward to 2018 and Marquez secures his sixth win in a row. And this year, the Spaniard will once again have his eye on the prize as he chases seven in seven.
The Austin, Texas circuit is 5.5km long, has the longest straight on the calendar (1200m) and has a total of 20 corners – 11 left and nine right. Any MotoGP rider knows that COTA is not the easiest track, in fact, it is one of the most difficult tracks on the calendar, with a mix of slow, long and fast corners, hard braking points and a 41m elevation change. Riders need to be in tip-top shape as this track is particularly hard on their bodies.
To the left, to the left
The “Sheriff” of COTA, Marquez holds the record for best lap, circuit record, most poles, and most wins, of course. On Saturday he claimed his seventh successive pole position in tricky conditions. The track runs anti-clockwise, the world champion dominates at any racetrack that runs in the left-hand direction. There are five counter-clockwise circuits on the MotoGP calendar, COTA, Sachsenring, Aragon, Phillip Island and Valencia. Out of the five races Marquez took three victories in the 2018 season. In Australia, Johann Zarco clipped his bike, forcing him out of the race and in Valencia he crashed due to treacherous weather conditions.
He’s still got it
Seven-time MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi may be 40 years old but he’s still got it. The Yamaha rider gave Marquez a run for his money in the qualifying sessions, but settled for second place as the reigning world champ was simply too good. This will be Rossi’s first front row start since Sepang last year. Two weeks ago at the Argentine GP at the Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit, Rossi finished on the podium in second place ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and behind race winner Marquez. Historically, COTA hasn’t favoured Yamaha as Honda have dominated since the first Grand Prix at this track. But if the qualifying and free practice results of the Monster Yamaha team are anything to go on you would never say this. Rossi’s teammate Maverick Vinales finished second in FP1, first in FP2 and qualified sixth overall.
Andrea Dovizioso will start from 13th position on the grid after failing to go through to the Q2 session. His teammate Danilo Petrucci and Honda’s Jorge Lorenzo, who left it late – qualified ahead of Dovi. He has now suffered his worst qualifying since the 2017 Spanish GP.
Marquez looks to maintain his perfect record at the Circuit of the Americas, but the rest of the grid will be looking to dethrone the King of COTA. Who will be looking to throw a spanner in the works and break the world champs winning streak? We’ll have to wait just a while longer to find out.