The MotoGP World Championship has left Europe for the United States, where it is to celebrate the GP of the Americas MotoGP this weekend (1-3 October) in its usual track of COTA (Circuit of the Americas) in Austin (Texas).
Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) arrives at the fifteenth round of the calendar, as a consolidated leader. After finishing second in San Marino, he now treasures a 48-point lead with just four races remaining to the end of the championship.
‘El Diablo’, however, was defeated by his greatest title rival ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) last time out in Italy. It remains to be seen if the Frenchman is able to manage his advantage wisely, without taking unnecessary risks, or if, on the contrary, he is losing steam.
Quartararo gives out the feeling of having the situation under control although COTA does not seem like a favourable scenario for him. He could only manage a seventh-place at the latest GP of the Americas MotoGP in Austin in 2019.
Iconic corners, an intimidating 40m climb to Turn 1, a 1,200m straight and a very demanding track surface, @COTA is one the of the biggest challenges of the year for the Michelin Power range of tires.
— Michelin Motorsport (@Michelin_Sport) September 28, 2021
Bagnaia, his main rival, has taken a performance leap in recent races. The #63 has claimed two consecutive victories in Aragon & Misano – and a total of three podiums in the four previous appointments -, and has every intention to continue putting pressure on the pilot from Nice.
Considering there are 100 points at stake in the championship and he is 48 points away from the top, the Italian pilot needs to win again. On his side are his Desmosedici GP-21, the most versatile bike of the year, and, of course, his own talent. So far, man and machine have formed a very solid and fearsome tandem.
Mir, to keep alive his options of defending his crown
The US MotoGP will be a crucial appointment for the third pilot in contention for the title, Joan Mir. Despite being a long way away from the top, he hasn’t given up on his very remote chances of defending his crown.
The Spaniard will do anything in his power in order to reduce the 67 points that separate him from Quartararo. At the very least, the GSX-RR has demonstrated to be very well suited to the Texan layout. His teammate Alex Rins, in fact, climbed to the top of the podium in COTA in 2019.
Next down, but already out of the title race is Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing). The Frenchman will reappear at the MotoGP of the Americas after having undergone surgery for chronic compartment syndrome in his right arm ten days ago. He is unlikely to be fighting fit. He will nonetheless attempt to defend his fourth place in the standings, which he holds with 141 points, one more than Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team).
The Australian pilot is a world away from the performance level and chances of his teammate Bagnaia. The expectations placed on him by the Borgo Panigale team after his signing have been ruined by his inconsistency. In any case, let’s not forget that Miller took bronze at MotoGP’s last visit to GP of the Americas MotoGP in 2019.
COTA, Marc Marquez´s territory
A fair deal of attention will also be directed to Marc Marquez. COTA is one of the Spanish pilot’s lucky tracks. In Austin, Marquez dominated at will between 2013 and 2018, with six consecutive victories. Faced with these statistics, the champion from Cervera can never be ruled out in Texas, not even now, when he is still convalescing and drives an unruly machine with Michelin tires. He will still go out to win.
Images of GP of the Americas MotoGP: MotoGP.com