When the fans arrived at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas last year, little did they know that they were about to play host to what would become a hatrick of victories in the USA for Marc Marquez in his rookie MotoGP season with the superfast Spaniard securing his first victory on American soil from his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa. Fast forward to 2014 and reigning MotoGP Champion comes to Austin on the back of a thrilling victory against Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi.
While Marquez will be reliving his winning strategy from last year, Rossi will aim to improve on his sixth place finish and back up his stunning pace under the floodlights in Qatar three weeks ago. Pedrosa also comes into the race off a third place finish in the first round and the Spaniard was unlucky not to have won the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas last year after leading the race for 12 laps last year.
Photo by: Yamaha MotoGP
Jorge Lorenzo will be focused on getting points on the board after crashing out of the first round while in the lead for the Movistar Yamaha team. Lorenzo has an improved YZR-M1 this year but the two-time MotoGP Champion is still struggling to get to grips with the 2014 Bridgestone rubber but despite this a third place finish here last year will give him something positive to focus on.
Last year’s fourth place finisher, Cal Crutchlow was impressive for the Monster Yamaha squad but this year he comes into the race on totally different machinery with the Ducati rider looking to make the most of the ‘Open’ team class advantages of more fuel and softer rubber. LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl will need to re-focus this weekend with the German crashing out in the first round while leading the race.
The Open Class is sure to throw up some surprises this year and the name on everybody’s tongue is Aleix Espargaro and his blistering pace on the NGM Forward Racing Yamaha. The Spaniard followed up his dominant pre season testing with a solid fourth place finish in Qatar while his brother Pol is in his rookie MotoGP season for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team who will be sure to make amends for a mechanical fault forcing Espargaro out of his debut race in the premier class.
Bradley Smith also comes into this weekend with zero points after the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider crashed out of the first round and a 12th place finish in Austin last year won’t give the British rider many positives but his pace has improved this year and just needs to focus on finishing. The home fans will have a lot to cheer about this weekend with both Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar) and Colin Edwards (NGM Forward Racing Yamaha) relishing the opportunity to race on home soil while this weekend’s rookie to watch will definitely be Scott Redding on the GO&Fun Honda Gresini with the British rider coming off a terrific seventh place finish on his MotoGP debut.