For the first time in almost 39 years we have a British rider leading the premier class of grand prix motorcycle racing. After taking his third career MotoGP win at the last round in Argentina, Cal Crutchlow leads as he heads to the Grand Prix of the Americas this weekend.
The last British rider to lead in the premier class was unsurprisingly Barry Sheene, and up until Crutchlow came along Sheene was also the last British winner of a premier class grand prix. After taking victory at the opening round of 1979 at the Venezuelan Grand Prix, Sheene led the world championship for what would be the last time in his career.
Two years previously in 1977 Sheene had retained his World title and in the process of course became the last British winner of the premier class in motorcycle racing. Whether Crutchlow can go on to emulate that remains to be seen. Undoubtedly there will be a lot of twists and turns in the remaining 16 grand prix between now and the final round of the season at Valencia in November.
There were twists and turns aplenty in Argentina where come race day the changing conditions caused havoc and left Dorna somewhat embarrassed. When everyone on the grid bar pole setter Jack Miller decided to change tyres, chaos ensued. Eventually it was decided that everyone should start several rows back from Miller. To further compound the chaos Marc Marquez stalled his Honda on the grid, bumped started and then turned around to assume his position on the grid; this was later punished by a ride through penalty.
But Marquez wasn’t done there, he set about chasing the pack and then he came upon Valentino Rossi. Diving up the inside Marquez ran into Rossi, the Italian running off the track and lowsiding. Marquez continued his charge to take fifth place on the final lap, but was given a 30 second penalty which relegated him to 18th, one place ahead of Rossi who had remounted after their coming together.
After the race Rossi was damning in his assessment of Marquez. For Marquez Austin probably can’t come soon enough; the Spaniard has won every MotoGP race held at the circuit; that’s a five race winning streak at the circuit. He has also started from pole position in every race, and set the fastest lap in all but one. Austin’s inaugural year in 2013 was also Marquez’s inaugural win in the class and sent him on his way to his first MotoGP title. It would seem Marquez not only like Austin, his winning streak in America stretches back eleven races, nine in MotoGP and two in Moto2.
It is difficult to see past Marquez for the victory this weekend, even with the fallout from Argentina with the Spaniard receiving criticism from all quarters. Normally this has been water off a ducks back. What before Argentina was another routine early season round of the MotoGP championship, Austin has now been elevated to must watch with plot lines aplenty.
1 Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 38 points
2 Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 35
3 Johann Zarco (Yamaha) 28
4 Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) 21
5 Marc Marquez (Honda) 20
6 Jack Miller (Ducati) 19
Two rounds into the Moto2 season and as with MotoGP we have had two different winners and six different podium finishers. The only thing that is crystal clear is than once again it is the Kalex chassis that is dominating proceedings, with five of the top six places taken by the German manufacturer of high performance motorcycle parts.
Mattia Pasini currently leads the way after his win in Argentina and is two points ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri. Francesco Bagnaia who won the first race of the season in Qatar is one point behind Baldassarri in third after his ninth place finish in Argentina. The win in Argentina was Pasini’s fourth career Moto2 win.
Whatever the result we will have three new names in the podium places this year at Austin with all of last years podium finishers having graduated to MotoGP
1 Mattia Pasini (Kalex) 38 points
2 Lorenzo Baldassarri (Kalex) 33
3 Francesco Bagnaia (Kalex) 32
4 Xavi Vierge (Kalex) 28
5 Miguel Oliveira (KTM) 27
6 Alex Marquez (Kalex) 27
In Moto3 Honda are dominating once again, so far only the KTM of Marco Bezzecchi has threatened Hondas hold on the top six places. The Italian won last time out in Argentina. KTM have now matched their win tally for 2017. Last year Honda claimed the top seven places in the championship. Aron Canet who currently leads the championship was one of those six, finishing the season in third. Canet is the only rider to have finished both races on the podium so far this season. The Spaniard showed good pace at Austin last year but crashed out under pressure from Romano Fenati and will be one of the favourites heading to the race.
1 Aron Canet (Honda) 40 points
2 Jorge Martin (Honda) 30
3 Marco Bezzecchi (KTM) 27
4 Fabio Di Giannantoninio (Honda) 26
5 Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Honda) 25
6 Niccolò Antonelli (Honda) 21