Valentino Rossi took a spectacular win after a four-way battle, demonstrating that the nine-times world champion still has the same hunger for success as when he made his world championship debut 20 years ago, although his best finish at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas is a sixth place back in 2013.
His team-mate Jorge Lorenzo had to make do with fourth in Qatar, after he experienced an issue with his helmet that ruined his chances for the win. The Spaniard had led the race at times until the problem, but believes he can be battling it out for the race win in Austin where he has a best place finish of third.
Ducati confirmed that they are “back” in Qatar, with riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone taking second and third respectively. After Dovizioso took pole, the new Ducati GP15 showed that it was not just a one-lap wonder and Dovizioso will fancy his chances after he claimed his first podium for Ducati in Austin last season. As Ducati compete in the so-called “Open” class however, they will now have to make do with 22 litres of fuel instead of 24, after achieving three podiums in the past two seasons.
After a setback in the season-opener in Qatar, Honda will be looking to make amends in Austin this Sunday. Double champion Marc Marquez got his title defence off to the worst possible start in Qatar when he ran wide at the first corner, eventually finishing the race fifth. Marquez will be confident he can respond in Austin having won the previous two races held at the circuit.
His team-mate Dani Pedrosa confirmed he will miss the Austin and Argentina GPs due to the arm pump issue that he revealed after the Qatar race, which has been affecting him for the past year.
The experienced Hiroshi Aoyama, who filled in for Pedrosa before at the Dutch TT in Assen in 2011, will replace the Spaniard for the next two races.
Suzuki made its return to MotoGP in Qatar and, as was to be expected, there were some teething problems for the Japanese manufacturer, with both Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales down on power compared to their rivals.
One man who will be looking for a good result in Austin is Aspar MotoGP Team’s Nicky Hayden who will be his starting 200th MotoGP race in front of his home fans, with his previous best finish at the circuit being ninth, two seasons ago. - Star Motoring
MotoGP World Championship Standings
1 - Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha - 25 points
2 - Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Ducati - 20 points
3 - Andrea Iannone (Italy) Ducati - 16 points
4 - Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha - 13 points
5 - Marc Marquez (Spain) Honda - 11 points
Original source: Rossi in rivals' sights at Austin GP