The motorcycle world championship is taking place this weekend for the tenth time at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin. The debut took place in 2013. Since then, the Grand Prix in the US state of Texas has been held every year, with the exception of the corona year 2020.
In the premier class of MotoGP, Marc Márquez has won seven of the nine previous Austin races. Enea Bastianini triumphed last year. Neither the Spaniard nor the Italian are at the start this weekend.
Márquez and Bastianini were both injured in the season opener in Portimao at the end of March and remain out of action. The only MotoGP race winner in Austin competing this weekend is Álex Rins. He won the 2019 American Grand Prix on Suzuki.
This year, Rins is on the LCR team on a Honda RC213V. It was on the previous versions of this bike that Marquez clinched his seven Austin victories. Does that make Rins one of the favorites for Sunday? “I don’t think so,” he says and explains: “Yes, Marc won with it, but not the other Honda drivers. I can only try to do my best. I like the track, but this year it’s incredibly tight to.”
The majority of the top 5 in the current MotoGP standings do not necessarily believe that it will be much easier to win the race on Sunday without Márquez and Bastianini. World Championship leader Marco Bezzecchi answers the question directly: “No. There are simply too many drivers in the field who can win. It will be difficult enough without Marc and Enea.”
Would Marquez be the favorite even with an injury?
Defending champion Francesco Bagnaia, currently second in the World Cup, sees it very similarly. “This time there are two opponents fewer, but the level of the other drivers is still very high,” he says, adding: “Marc and Enea would certainly have been two to beat. But this year it would also be for It wasn’t easy for Marc. We all know the Honda aren’t as competitive as they have been in previous years, but he certainly would have been up there again.”
Johann Zarco, currently third in the World Championships, says: “We don’t have any less pressure now. But because Marc isn’t driving, it’s almost certain that there will be more space on the podium or in the top 5.” In his opinion, Márquez “would have fought for the podium even with an injury”. And “Pecco” Bagnaia adds: “The way (Márquez) can read this track is just amazing.”
Marc Márquez is not at the start this weekend. However, his younger brother Álex Márquez, who is currently fourth in the overall standings, will compete. With the Gresini-Ducati that Bastianini rode last year, does he think he has any chance of maintaining the Marquez family honor in Austin?
“Is a chance for everyone else”
“When Marc competes in Austin, you know beforehand that your own chance of winning is maybe 50 percent. Now that Marc isn’t there, the chance is maybe 85 percent,” says Álex Márquez. When it comes to his own prospects, however, the newcomer to the Gresini team doesn’t want to lean too far out of the window.
“It’s a new track for me on this bike. Let’s just take it. What I can say is that we have a clear idea of what we need to improve on. My goal is another solid weekend,” said Álex Márquez, who finished on the podium almost two weeks ago in Termas de Rio Hondo. In Austin he currently sees himself “realistically in the range of P4 to P8”.
Aprilia factory driver Maverick Vinales, who is currently fifth overall, sees the whole thing a little differently than a previous speaker. “I think it would be better if Marc and Enea rode here. Marc in particular is just the benchmark on this track. If we could have kept up with him, that would have meant we were very fast. Now that we’re both If you don’t ride, it’s a chance for everyone else.”