Triple threat: Can Franco Morbidelli make it three in a row?
0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Alex Marquez disappeared into the distance before some last lap drama saw Marquez highside out on the chase – and now motivation will be even higher for both riders, as one seeks to keep his stranglehold on the standings and the other looks to reload.
Miguel Oliveira was the closest challenger to the two on pace in Argentina, and the Portuguese rider gave the new KTM intermediate class chassis its first podium finish – also his first in Moto2™ – as he hunted the lead duo down. With pace from Qatar confirmed at Termas de Rio Hondo, now the target moves forward again to become a first win for man and machine.
Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) called his rostrum finish in Argentina lucky, but the Swiss rider knows consistency is key and has so far had exactly that. That’s less true of key rival Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) after the Japanese rider suffered a difficult qualifying and then DNF in Argentina, but the season is only just beginning – and there are many kilometers left to run even before the paddock returns to Europe.
There’s also previous good form in Texas from Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) and Speed Up to contend with – as previous winner Sam Lowes graduates, veteran Simone Corsi remains and will fight it out in signature style.
So with all the 2016 podium finishers at the Circuit of the Americas having moved to MotoGP™, the story in 2017 will certainly have a different ending – what remains to be seen is whether Morbidelli can author another masterclass, or someone else can turn over a new page.
Moto2™ head out of pitlane for FP1 at 10:55am (GMT -5) on Friday.
Moto2 World Championship Classification
1 – Franco Morbidelli (ITA – Kalex) 50 points
2 – Thomas Lüthi (SWI – Kalex) 36 points
3 – Miguel Oliveira (POR – KTM) 33 points
4 – Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA – Kalex) 21 points
5 – Xavi Vierge (SPA – Tech3) 18 points