MotoGP 2016 - Marquez dominant on new MICHELIN rubber at COTA
Michelin’s MotoGPTM debut at the Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, America has been totally dominated by Marc Marquez on a Honda as he secured his fourth successive victory at the Texan track.
Michelin brought new rear tires to the American circuit following a decision after last weekend’s race to begin production on a brand new version in readiness for today’s race. The tires began their build process on Monday in Clermont Ferrand, France and were then shipped to Houston in Texas, before finally arriving in separate batches at the track on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. The new tires had a stiffer construction with a softer compound, designed specifically for the Texan circuit, and built with a significant respect for safety to counter any incidents like the one encountered in Argentina last weekend, although the result of the analysis of Scott Redding’s tire is not yet available.
Free Practice and qualifying went well with the new MICHELIN Power Slicks with all teams and riders adapting to the new rubber and dialling in the settings as practice continued, before Marquez secured his fourth pole position in-a-row at COTA on the Saturday afternoon. Today’s race was held in warm, but cloudy, conditions and as the lights changed to signal the start of the race in front of over 56,000 enthusiastic fans, Marquez led off the line, but was passed by reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. The 2015 champion was unable to make the move permanent and his Yamaha was relegated to second as Marquez again took the lead – a position that he would not relinquish again as he stormed to back-to-back victories on MICHELIN tires, the first rider to do so since Valentino Rossi in 2006.
Behind the dominant Marquez, Lorenzo rode a lonely race and was never really pressured as he took a comfortable second place, with Andrea Iannone in third on a Ducati to complete a podium of three different manufacturers. The variation in machines continued into fourth place after a race-long battle between Suzuki riders Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro, saw the former just edge out his team-mate. Sixth position and the honour of First Independent Team Rider went to Ducati’s Scott Redding, While Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro finished in seventh. Eighth and ninth positions went to Ducati, one ridden by Michele Pirro and the other by Hector Barbera respectively, whilst a solid ride from Stefan Bradl secured tenth for Aprilia and the fifth different brand in the top-10. Marquez’s victory takes him to the top of the championship classification after three-rounds, in front of Lorenzo and Yamaha’s Rossi – who unfortunately crashed on lap-three due to a clutch issue he suffered at the start of the race.
Michelin and the whole MotoGPTM paddock now heads back across the Atlantic ocean on its way to Europe as it moves to Jerez in Spain for round-four of the championship, which will be held on Sunday 24th April in the heart of Andalucía.
During this weekend we have all done a really good job together. I want to say this victory is not only for me and my team, but for my Michelin Technician, because he convinced me that the soft front tire option was good for me and it would be the right option for my riding style and that really convinced me. With this choice I was able to do a great race and I am very happy with the result. Now we go to Europe, these are tracks that are very different to where we have already been and also Michelin has more experience on them – because the tracks are older – so we will try to work hard again when we get there.
What we really wanted to do here was to show that we could react in the correct way after the issue that Scott had in Argentina. We did exactly what we said we would do and brought some new tires that were based on the extra tire that we should have run in Argentina, but with compounds more suited to the track here. It was tight in the factory to get it done, but it worked and the tires did a pretty good job, so we are pleased about that. Considering this is the first time that we have had these constructions on the race-track we are quite satisfied with the results.
This has been quite a demanding week, because after Argentina we had to react quickly, so we had to build the tire, ship it, get it through customs and then get it delivered to the track, so the logistics of that were not easy – but luckily everything went well. We got all the tires in time so that the teams and the riders had time to test it properly and make the correct settings and then make the right tire choice for the race. I really want to give a special mention to the Michelin Technicians and Fitters here at the track for their hard work this week, and especially the staff back in the factory who pushed so hard to make sure the tires were made and sent here for us to use.