Rins wins – Americas GP Weekend Recap
Alex Rins won the 10th annual Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas, securing the trophy for LCR Honda CASTROL and his first podium of 2023. Honda has now won 8 of 10 races at Circuit of The Americas, returning to dominance since Enea Bastianini took the win in 2022 for Gresini Racing. Alex also added 25 points to his Riders’ Championship standing, rocketing him from ninth place to third. Here’s what happened leading up to the race:
The daredevils started off with a strong round of practices on Friday, though not without early wrecks. Luca Marini of Mooney VR46 Racing Team and Jorge Martin of Prima Pramac Racing took the top spots of Practice 1 and 2, respectively, while Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia of Ducati Lenovo Team sat biding his time.
The qualifying rounds on Saturday afternoon proved to be equally interesting, with an unexpected grid lineup headed into the Grand Prix. Pecco and Rins sat first and second while underdog Luca Marini of Mooney VR46 Racing Team made a surprising showing in third. Alex Marquez of Gresini Racing MotoGP made his brother proud by sitting fourth – making everyone wonder if success at COTA runs in the Marquez blood.
The biggest excitement of Saturday morning came when Pecco set the new lap record for MotoGP, the first rider to go sub-2:01.
The inaugural Tissot Sprint at COTA took place that afternoon, where Pecco made clear his intentions for the weekend: win and win clearly. With a healthy two and a half second lead over Rins at the finish line, Pecco earned 12 points toward the Championship title. Jorge Martin finished out the Sprint podium while Alex Marquez shockingly tumbled out of the race into Turn 12 and was later revealed to be feeling physically unwell after a dominate performance Friday.
Moto3 riders saw their fair share of crashes with eight bikes down during the race. Ivan Ortola of Angeluss MTA Team earned first place after a late crash took out longtime race leader Ayumu Sasaki of Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP. Following Ortola on the podium were Jaume Masia in second and Xavier Artigas of CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP claiming third.
In Moto2, Pedro Acosta of Red Bull KTM Ajo relied on his superior racing strategy, clenching the win on the last lap over Tony Arbolino of Elf MarcVDS Racing Team. Third place was also a dog fight, with Bo Bendsneyder of Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team taking third, his first ever podium in a Moto race.
2 p.m. came quickly and the crowd was as ready as the riders for the lights to go out. However, by the time the checkered flag waved, an astounding nine riders had retired from the Grand Prix with fall after fall around The Circuit. Three did not finish their first lap, including Aleix Espargaro of Aprilia Racing, Jorge Martin of Prima Pramac Racing, and Alex Marquez. Lap seven, Jack Miller took a tumble and Raul Fernandez pit with a mechanical issue, causing both to retire.
Alex Rins stayed hot on Pecco’s trail until lap eight when the crowd gasped as Pecco lost traction into Turn 2, leaving Rins to defend the top spot. Brad Binder crashed halfway through the race but was able to recover to finish 13th, the last of the riders left competing. Adding to the chaos on the track, Joan Mir wiped out late into lap nine and Takaaki Nakagami slid around Big Red’s curb into lap ten, both out for the remaining laps.
With Pecco shockingly retired, and Rins taking first, the real underdog story of the day was Luca Marini. Starting in third on the grid, Marini raced to a second-place finish, celebrating his first podium in three years of competing in MotoGP. Marini also set the fastest time in Practice 1 on Friday and managed to advance directly to Qualifying 2 Saturday. Finishing seventh in the Sprint, Marini will be one to watch in 2023. Fabio Quartararo completed the podium after a steady and consistent race.
Now that the Americas GP has come to an end, teams are packing up and heading to Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto for the Spanish GP in two weeks. The riders will celebrate their performances or plan their returns tonight, with some relishing an extra weekend to prepare. MotoGP will return to Austin in 2024 where the crowd may name a new “King of COTA.”