King Of COTA = Marc Marquez Wins His First Race In 2021!
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King Of COTA = Marc Marquez Wins His First Race In 2021!

By FORMULAMotoGPMag - 04 October 2021

Author: Myanna Wedes

The 2021 Circuit Of The Americas MotoGP race is complete with Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez winning for the first time in 2021 and also since returning to the sport after a terrible shoulder and arm injury that almost cost him his career. It was a picture-perfect start for the Spanish rider putting his bike into the first turn in a position that made his fellow rivals reconsider their options as they entered and exited the first turn. It was at about lap six or seven when MM93 decided to go for it and push his body to the limit on a circuit that is incredibly bumpy and once again was the topic of discussion for majority of the grid. Certain riders declaring the track unfit for riding, whilst others pushed the limit and defied the odds, in particular, this was Pramac Ducati MotoGP rider Jorge Martin. With the dominance of Marquez, Martin was certainly rider of the day as a rookie on board a machine that has been hard to turn though defended his lines from the attack of Jack Miller, Pecco Bagnaia for multiple laps and unfortunately suffered from some bad luck to lose out on his podium. Whilst battling with Bagnaia, Martin ran wide as he almost crashed and went off circuit, re-entered the circuit and was declared to not have lost enough time resulting in a long lap penalty. It is a harsh one to stomach considering he was working lap after lap just to keep the bike upright and not crash, so we look forward to his redemption ride potentially at Misano where the Ducati machines have been the ones to beat as this becomes the next race on the calendar.

Credit - CormacGP & Repsol Honda MotoGP Team (Marc Marquez)

With the burnouts, donuts eaten on the podium and smiles of Marquez, we are sure to see more from him across the remaining races, now that the sweet taste of Prosecco has been enjoyed, the challenges overcome from a mental perspective: would he win ever again and to aim high for the next upcoming season as Fabio Quartararo looks set to become World Champion at Misano. To anyone who missed watching the race, you should watch it back to analyse how Marquez strategically pushed at the right time, even having limited tyres traction towards the last few laps, and witnessing his team celebrate after such a hard 12 months. The lap times he put in were spot on time and time again, one of the only riders of the weekend to be so consistent. Credit is due as the Sheriff is now back in town! For those who are wondering why a donut was eaten on the podium, Marquez had a bet with Australian Jett Lawrence that if he won at Austin, he would eat a donut on the podium. Lawrence is a talent himself, becoming the American Motorcycle Association Pro Motocross 250MX Champion in 2021.

Credit - CormacGP & Repsol Honda MotoGP Team (Marc Marquez)

Marc Marquez:

“The plan was to do exactly what we did today: start well and fight into the first corner, take the first few laps a bit easy and then when the tyres start to drop a little bit – that’s when I would start to push. It’s exactly what I did and I saw the gap increasing with my lap times in in 2’04 highs, very consistent and comfortable. In the last few laps I was very tired and it wasn’t easy to keep my concentration but Fabio was far behind and my instincts said he would not risk anything as he’s fighting for the championship. Today is a great day, I want to say thanks to the whole of HRC and the Repsol Honda Team who have worked so well all weekend. It’s been a hard season to understand everything, I was really looking for this victory because we know we had a good chance here. It was nice to win here for Nicky Hayden and also for the Viñales family, I have known them since I was eight years old and it’s a hard year for them and for the world of racing.”

Credit - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team (Fabio Quartararo, Jorge Martin, Alex Rins, Jack Miller and Pecco Bagnaia)

The weekend was looking to be one for the Ducati team to dominate although this was not to be the case for two reasons: a poor start from Bagnaia and tyre woes once again for Jack Miller who was not able to push after gaining so many positions in the first half of the race. It was pure frustration for the Australian rider plus also being hit by Joan Mir on the last lap costing him a position and reigniting the bad blood between the two riders. Mir was over ambitious and Miller still shaking his head at how to overcome the lack of performance.

Credit - Ducati Corse Press (Jack Miller and Pecco Bagnaia)

In comparison, Bagnaia had a terrible start and ended up making more work for himself losing out on points though recovering points considering he was potentially going to finish seventh or eighth. He was lucky to bag a podium position after such a dominant and brave ride by Martin, whose confidence is building race by race with the Pramac Ducati machinery underneath him. Overall, it has been a very important season for Ducati after they parted ways with Andrea Dovizioso and are setting up the future for further success. The bonus to the consistent Ducati points finishes is the constructors World Championship which is key because MotoGP is a team sport as well. At present, Ducati are leading! We must remember that Quartararo is practically winning the individual Championship on his own as the only Yamaha rider up there with the ability to win.

Credit - Ducati Corse Press (Pecco Bagnaia)

Francesco Bagnaia:

"Today, we couldn't do more than this. We gave our best until the end and took another important podium, so we can only be satisfied. Right from the start, it was a complicated weekend for us, given the track conditions, but we still managed to get a great result. I also have to thank Jack because he let me through when he was in trouble, and I had to make one overtake less. For sure, we lost some points today to Quartararo, and now the Championship fight is getting tough, but I'm not too worried about it. We're working well and improving race by race. Now we're already thinking about the next Grand Prix where, of course, we'll try again."

Credit - Ducati Corse Press (Jack Miller)

Jack Miller:

"After a good start, I was able to get back into the fight for the podium, but unfortunately, towards the second part of the race, when I was up to fourth, I started to struggle from the drop in tyre performance. I tried to adopt a different style and not wear out the front too much, but obviously, that affected my pace. I saw that Pecco was behind me, and since I was struggling, I let him through. I finished sixth, but on the last lap, Mir hit me, and I lost another two positions. In the end, I finished seventh. It's a shame because we could have had a really good race. Congratulations to Pecco for the podium. I'm also happy for Ducati and the team, who are now both first in the championship".

Credit - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team (Fabio Quartararo)

A 52-point advantage in any World Championship is a nice buffer to have especially with only a handful of races left to go. With that said, a dip in confidence or mindset could be costly. As a result, Quartararo has to be at 100% focus and push to succeed no matter what because by being cautious or reserved, he risks the hunger, passion, and desire of his rivals to upset him. The consistency the French rider has demonstrated with his Yamaha is sensational and definitely reminds us of the dominance Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi had back in the day riding for the Yamaha squad. The young rider is doing exactly what Marquez also did for the Honda team and is cementing his future as the number one rider for the Japanese manufacturer and will continue to ride for success, wins, podiums and look towards the next season to also secure a team Constructors World Championship because both are just as important as the other.

Credit - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team (Fabio Quartararo)

Fabio Quartararo:

“You can imagine how happy I am! I think that we managed to do a really great job. This morning I tried the soft rear, and honestly that was not really a race option for us all weekend, but I felt good. The first 12 laps of the race were the toughest, when I tried to make a gap between me and Jorge. And we did it. This is the best second place that I’ve ever gotten in my life. It’s even better than a victory, to be honest, because I’m getting closer to my dream. It was so emotional because there are only three races left, and I have an over 50-point advantage. At least we made this long flight to leave here with a great result. I will now go back home and relax with my family for a few days. I will enjoy those moments with them a lot. I think that we are starting to think in a different way now, because the championship’s end is getting closer. This is my first time really talking about it, but things are looking good.”

During the weekend, we thoroughly enjoyed watching Alex Rins and Joan Mir get to work over the weekend where things were looking positive. Both Team Suzuki Ecstar riders unfortunately suffered issues throughout the race that limited their ability to charge forward. In terms of Rins, he felt the workload physically with soaring temperatures, a demanding circuit on the body, acceleration challenges and for Mir, it was mainly about acceleration, traction and having to push so hard that mistakes were made. It has not been smooth sailing and as a result of the positions achieved today, Mir is officially out of the title race and will not be defending his honour as a result of some poor results and not being competitive enough to win more in 2021. The work over the winter break is going to be vital for the Suzuki team as well as finishing the last few races with confidence. How you finish a season can sometimes be how you start the season, so both Mir and Rins need to be proud of their overall performances. One rider who will not be happy is Johann Zarco, once again crashing out with a rider mistake and losing out once again on points, track time, battering his confidence and allowing his teammate to shine. Martin as a rookie, has recovered since his major leg accident to be a dark horse and one we are enjoying watching as he pushes even when there is fear. At one stage during the weekend, Martin’s heart rate was at 198BPM and the lean angle 59 degrees which is incredible to witness if you think about your own fitness levels. Besides feeling upset by the punishment of a long lap penalty, the smile was still there after the race as the Martinator knew he was achieving a result other riders thought was impossible.

Credit - Team Suzuki Ecstar (Alex Rins)

Alex Rins:

“Today was a very difficult race for me, I struggled a lot, it was so hot and physically tough for everyone. Coming out of the slow corners I was losing time – I’m not sure if it was rear grip, or something in the set-up, but I struggled to accelerate out of the corners. But on the more flowing and faster corners I felt good and I was able to hold the speed and fight better. We chose the soft rear, like everybody else, because it seemed to be the best option to enter the fight with the same weapons. In the end it’s hard to tell whether another choice may have worked better, but I’m glad I was able to get fourth - it’s not so bad and I could bring home some nice points.”

Credit - Team Suzuki Ecstar (Joan Mir)

Joan Mir:

“All race long I was trying to gain positions and make overtakes, but due to some issues with acceleration and traction I wasn’t really able to do it easily and I had to push really hard. I’m sorry for the touch with Jack (Miller) at the end of the race, I understand why he was angry, but it’s a shame I had a penalty because it was not a deliberate hit, of course. I hope in the future we can be more competitive, because I don’t want to be in these types of fights with another rider, I want everything to be clean and to be able to make passes more easily and battle with the lead group. Anyway, today I’m eighth and that’s just how it is. I’m ready to focus on Misano.”

Credit - Pramac Ducati MotoGP Team (Jorge Martin)

Jorge Martin:

“I really didn’t expect to do a race like that, I am very happy. It’s a shame because I could have been on the podium.”

Johann Zarco:

“I am very disappointed, a good opportunity wasted because of a mistake. Now I will use these two weeks to train and get back to 100%.”

Overall, it was a positive weekend for Andrea Dovizioso although his start certainly was not ideal. He literally almost turned off his bike and could have been out of the race before he knew it. Luckily, this was resolved though he lost a lot of ground. Dovizioso is already faster than teammate Rossi and improving week by week. In terms of talent, Dovi is a superb development rider so we have no doubt that he will work to ensure his bike and team are competitive for the remaining races and also working around the clock for the new season in 2022. In terms of “The Doctor” he just was not fast enough, felt the demand of the circuit even with his exceptional fitness levels and also qualifying positions do not help in allowing him to propel forward quickly enough, therefore making his weekend extremely tiring. Regardless of the negative results, Rossi is going to finish the season pushing as best he can, with Dovizioso leading the team as the Italian rider departs for retirement. It will be a nice partnership for Rossi to end with as he battled over many years with Dovi.

Andrea Dovizioso:

“I’m very disappointed with the start because I almost switched off the engine - I don’t know if I made a mistake but I lost a lot of positions, so we’re looking into that. This made it not very easy, especially as it’s very difficult for us to overtake, but in the end my pace was quite good and quite consistent. I’m disappointed because I didn’t achieve the maximum - with a good start I believe I could have been in the top ten, but the improvement since Misano is huge and we’re continuing to work hard and to adapt to the bike. We are in a strange situation that I can be happy even when we don’t get a good result because I’m learning, so it’s ok and we will continue to work in this way.”

Valentino Rossi:

“Considering my pace during the weekend my speed today in the race was decent. I was able to take one point, but it was really, really hard. A very long race. This track is always very demanding because we have some wild braking, a lot of change in direction and a lot of bumps, and with this temperature it was very long today. For the level of MotoGP machines now you have to be very, very fit. I used the medium rear and I felt good and was able to recover some positions, but unfortunately I was not fast enough. We expected to be stronger, but we suffered through the weekend. Finally though at the end I’m happy because it was so tough but still I took one point.”

Next race is Misano #2 and this will take place on 24th October 2021, so be sure to tune in and enjoy watching Rossi say goodbye to his home track for the last time whilst also potentially witnessing the crowing of a new World Champion!

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