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MotoGP, Austin: Marquez and Honda, watch out for this pair

Texas is Marc's kingdom, while Crutchlow proves that the bike has grown. Ducati is still to solve its problems, Yamaha too

MotoGP: Austin: Marquez and Honda, watch out for this pair

We understand that it was easy to become distracted in Argentina, with Marquez's conduct and the mistakes made by Race Direction, what happened on the track pretty much took a backseat. The Termas de Rio Hondo GP should be remembered for other reasons too though, starting with Crutchlow's win. A victory that sees a British rider top the standings for the first time in almost 40 years, while the last time a satellite team's rider was in a similar position was in 2004, namely Sete Gibernau.

Well done Cal and the LCR team, and well done Honda too, proving that it has a strong side even on a day in which its two star players, for different reasons, failed to play ball. It was already clear in Qatar that the RC213V has taken huge steps forward, with 3 Hondas in the top seven at a track that is not the Japanese bike's favourite. In Argentina, it could have gone even better, with Marquez demonstrating a stronger pace than anyone else as he fought to catch up. His fastest lap of the race was almost half a second quicker than Cal's best.

It's understandable that Marc arrives in Austin in high spirits, despite the zero scored at Termas. The Texan track is one of the Spaniard's kingdoms, a track at which he's won all five editions of the GP of the Americas held so far. 25 points as good as in the bag for Marquez. In Texas Marc flies, but the Honda is also very comfortable, securing three of the top four spots last season.

In other words, a real challenge for everyone else, not least Ducati and Dovizioso. Andrea gained in Argentina, thanks to Marquez's mistakes, returning home with a 6th place finish and 10 points that, although not enough to retain the championship lead, are nevertheless sufficient to extend his advantage over Marquez.

The Italian is not best pleased though as, not only was he not at the level of the frontrunners in Argentina, but the GP17 actually did better than the GP18. If we look at the stats, Dovi finished 18 seconds behind Miller, and only preceded Rabat (on the GP16) by half a second. If Termas was a difficult exam, the Desmosedici failed to pass. This is confirmed by Petrucci's 10th place finish, and Lorenzo's 15th place.

The Ducati is still a great bike but, as Andrea feared, it hasn't smoothed out its sharpest corners and the issues it has at certain tracks live on. A significant problem when you have to deal with Marquez on a Honda that continues to raise the bar.

While Bologna cries, Iwata isn't exactly laughing, because once again the 'wrong' Yamaha reached the podium. Zarco is proving to be something of a nightmare for Vinales and Rossi who, after making a good start in Qatar, found themselves stuck at Termas.

Yamaha dominated in Argentina last year, scoring the double, while ten days ago, Maverick was almost 14 seconds slower than Johann, Valentino, before the incident, right behind him. There's another figure on which to reflect too: an ‘accidental rookie’ like Syahrin finished just 9 seconds behind Vinales, and did so on the 2016 bike.

Summing up: the 2018 M1 is still struggling and risks becoming the third or even fourth force in the championship. Suzuki is showing signs that it may overtake it, finding both the podium and competitiveness with Rins.

On paper at least, Marquez is on the top step of the rostrum in Austin but there's sure to be a real battle for the other spots.

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