The ‘Beast’ wins #GP500, Rins makes some Suzuki history and Miller takes his first rostrum of the season… as Marquez steals some headlines with 24th to sixth.
Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) is now a two-time MotoGP™ race winner! The Beast delivered a Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas masterclass to retake the World Championship lead heading to Europe, taking Ducati’s first win at the venue and staking his claim on a serious charge for the crown. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) scrapped it out on the last lap for second, with the Suzuki rider coming out on top with a late lunge – and thus securing Suzuki’s 500th podium. Miller, nevertheless, took his first rostrum of the season.
Behind the fight for the win, there was also an almighty comeback ride from Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team)…
As the lights went out, Miller got the best start of the leading Ducati trio on the front row and grabbed the holeshot ahead of Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), but thus began the drama for the number 93. The eight-time World Champion suffered an issue off the line, plummeting through the order to the very back of the field. He got going, and then the race was on.
Up ahead, Bastianini got the better Bagnaia for P3 on Lap 1 as Martin lunged for the lead at the penultimate corner. Miller instantly retaliated though and it was the Australian who held the race lead baton on Lap 2. It was a Ducati 1-2-3-4-5, with Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) scrapping away with Pecco for P4, followed by Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Rins and Joan Mir in P6, P7 and P8 behind the Desmosedici quintet.
By Lap 5 meanwhile, Marc Marquez had climbed his way up to 13th. Lap 7 saw him pass teammate Pol Espargaro at Turn 12 and in doing so, the number 93 was inside the top 10 – 0.6s off Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) in eighth and just five seconds off the lead.
Further up the road, Rins had pounced on Pecco and the Ducati stranglehold had been breached on Lap 6. Rins was an absolute demon on brakes into Turn 11 and the Spaniard picked off Zarco on Lap 9, crucially holding the Frenchman at bay coming out of Turn 12 too. Rins then latched himself onto the coattails of third place Bastianini, diving up the inside of the ‘Beast’ at Turn 11 on the next lap but Bastianini able to power back past.
Meanwhile, Marc Marquez had picked off Aleix Espargaro and had Quartararo next on his list as the number 93 set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 11 of 20.
Lap 12 saw Bastianini slice past Martin into second at Turn 1, and Rins followed Bestia through and into third. Up ahead, Miller had opened up a 0.7s lead as the Australian pushed on doing the leg work of leading, with Bagnaia, Mir and Zarco battling it out as the top nine riders down to Marc Marquez were split by five seconds – and the latter, once again, set the fastest lap of the race.
It was all happening. Lap 14 saw Quartararo push his way past countryman Zarco as the number 5 dropped backwards, and Marc Marquez then passed Quartararo on the back straight as, up ahead, both Mir and Pecco made their way through on Martin. Bastianini, in second, then set the best lap of the race as Miller’s lead was cut to 0.3s, the race for the win very much on. The top two also had 1.4s in hand to Rins, who in turn had 1.3s to teammate Mir. Could the Suzukis bridge the gap?
With five laps to go, it looked like it was only a matter of time before Bastianini took the lead off Miller. Sure enough, ducking into the slipstream of the Australian, Bastianini then sliced up the inside of the number 43, hitting the front at Turn 12.
How would Miller respond? Bastianini eked out about three tenths and with three laps to go, the gap was half a second. From there, it only grew – and Rins was closing in fast, too. The Suzuki was now 0.7s behind Miller, Mir was a further second down the road, Bagnaia 0.8s off Mir, and Marquez and Quartararo were getting their gloves off as they shoved Martin down to P8.
Starting the final lap, Bastianini had 1.6s in his pocket and it seemed his to lose. Miller was now on defence duty against a charging Rins, with Mir not too far off the podium fight either. Bagnaia was in a lonelier fifth, and Marquez vs Quartararo was a sensation in the battle for sixth.
For second, the fight started at Turn 11 as the Suzuki got by, but Miller got his Ducati hooked up on the straight and the Aussie was back into P2. Rins then got a great run out of Turn 18, and at Turn 19, the number 42 went for it and dived up the inside. Stopped and turned to perfection, there was no way back for Miller and that was that: Bastianini a MotoGP™ race winner once more, Rins taking second and making that history for Suzuki, and Miller forced to settle for third but still taking a first podium of the season.
Mir’s podium attack didn’t quite come to fruition in the end but it’s a second consecutive P4 for the 2020 World Champion, with Bagnaia also taking a second successive result, his of fifth. And then came Marquez…
From 24th to sixth was a truly stunning comeback, enough even without threatening the podium for it to be a serious warning shot for the rest. Quartararo gave it some elbows to try and deny the number 93 though, taking P7 in the end but the top Iwata machine by some margin.
Martin slipped to P8 as the Pramac duo struggled in the second half of the race, with Zarco just behind in P9. Maverick Viñales got the better of Aprilia Racing teammate Aleix Espargaro as the Aprilias pick up P10 and P11 from P13 and P14 on the grid, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) coming home in P12 on a difficult weekend for KTM.
A fatigued and under the weather Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) saw the chequered flag in P13, just ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) crossed the line in P15 but was demoted one place, handing Andrea Dovizioso (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) the final point.
Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) crashed out, the former headed to the medical centre for a check-up and was declared fit.
What a way to celebrate 500 GPs of racing together, with Bastianini putting on a show to remember at the Circuit of the Americas. The Beast is back on top and in winning race #GP500, joins Cal Crutchlow (400th), Casey Stoner (300th), Valentino Rossi (200th), Kenny Roberts Jr (100th) and Mick Doohan, the first winner of the era back in 1992, with a nice little milestone.
Now the stunning Autodromo Internacional do Algarve awaits, with a very different looking Championship table to the one on MotoGP™’s last visit. What will the rollercoaster bring? Find out in two weeks!
1 Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) – Ducati – 41’23.111
2 Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – Suzuki – +2.058
3 Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +2.312
Enea Bastianini: “Fantastic day! It has been really hard this race. The first part of the race Miller put a very fast pace, but then during the middle of the race when I saw Rins very close to me trying to overtake me many times I decided it was time to push for the front because also the temperature of the front tyre was too high. In the end I pushed like a bastard. It’s incredible to win here in America it’s a fantastic track, fantastic people and now it’s time to eat some hamburgers.!”
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