Some day Marc Marquez might actually lose a race in Austin. For now, all of MotoGP remains in his rear-view mirror at this horsepower rodeo.
The King of COTA, his royal highness, delivered another reminder Sunday that everyone else is merely pretending at Circuit of the Americas.
Marquez, the 25-year-old from Cervera, Spain, made it 6-for-6 in Austin, rolling to a 3.56-second victory over Maverick Vinales. Andrea Iannone took third.
“I feel really sweet with the bike,” said Marquez, the two-time defending series champion making his 93rd start on the No. 93 Repsol Honda.
Marquez was a man on a mission in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas. Penalized three times in Argentina the last race for reckless driving and once more at COTA for slowing down Vinales in Saturday qualifying, Marquez wanted to dish out a little hell.
“I felt an extra pressure, more motivation this week,” he said. “When it’s like that, I feel more comfortable. That gives me an extra push, a change of direction you need.
“I like to speak on the track. I tried to open up a big gap today and make the others chase.”
Marquez, a four-time series champ with 10 straight Grand Prix wins in the United States, heard a few boos for the first time in Austin during an animated post-race celebration.
“I was in Brazil helping UNICEF with the kids, talking to them about the importance of school, and I promised them that if I win, I would do the (crazy face gestures) and other things,” he said. “It’s quite noisy, but it’s funny.
“As for the boos? Another motivation.”
This race seemed like it would be more difficult after Marquez, who also has won every pole in Austin, was slapped with a three-spot penalty for holding up Vinales in qualifying. That allowed the No. 25 Movistar Yamaha rider to begin out front. He didn’t stay there long.
Starting fourth, Marquez made quick work of the field, launching into the lead late in the first lap. There were 19 laps to go, but essentially it was over. Nobody was going to catch him on his track.
“It’s a combination of him and the bike,” said Vinales, a 23-year-old Spaniard who notched his first 2018 podium and his first ever in Austin. “In the corners, he pulls away.
“I enjoyed this race so much. All the crowd, Austin, the layout. We are starting to understand how to make the Yamaha bike go fast.”
Iannone, grabbing his first Suzuki podium, made it interesting after the start, snatching the lead from Vinales into turn 1, falling behind Marquez later in the opening lap but briefly passing him on lap 2. Another run at Marquez was thwarted when Iannone nearly lost control.
“For a moment I think I can overtake Marc then told myself, ‘You are stupid,’” the 28-year-old Italian said. “He overtakes me because he’s faster. Simple. On this track, he’s really strong.”
Marquez’ mindset this weekend: Go, go, go.
“My strategy was quite clear: Push from the beginning,” he said. “I was able to get the race in the first lap already and manage the lead. I did not have any (shaky) moments, had everything more or less under control.”
Popular Valentino Rossi finished fourth, 9½ seconds behind Marquez, and then there was a wide gap to Andrea Dovizioso, who nonetheless took the series lead over Marquez by one point.
Dani Pedrosa, Marquez’s teammate, scratched and clawed to seventh place barely a week after having surgery to repair a broken right wrist.
Cal Crutchlow, the surprise series leader entering the day, crashed on lap 8 and finished 19th.
Off the track, business was brisk. Circuit of the Americas no longer publicly discloses attendance figures, but Chairman Bobby Epstein called it a “spectacular day.”
“The numbers aren’t all in yet, but it looks like the biggest MotoGP race day in COTA history,” he said. “We were opening parking lots that had previously only been needed for Formula One. The motorcycle lot was nearly double anything we’ve seen before.”