He lost in slow motion. It was more of a spinout than a slip. Then, when he jumped up like a cat to get back on the bike, his Honda didn't want any part of it.
So that's how the 9th lap of the Grand Prix of the Americas ended for Marc Marquez.
Marc did it all by himself. As if sure that nobody would be able to beat him in Austin, he had to somehow justify his inevitable victory with a superlative performance. Like in Argentina at Rio Hondo.
However, when you reach the summit of a mountain, the air becomes thin and, after seven consecutive victories, there's no doubt that the air in the COTA was rarefied.
It's the law of averages: he knew he could be beaten, but he actually didn't believe it. Unless he was so relaxed that he made a mistake.
His leaving the scene, just after Cal Crutchlow, animated the race.
In fact, with him out of the picture, the Grand Prix will be dueled out between Valentino Rossi and Alex Rins.
Rossi tried, but Rins hung in there for the first victory.
The whiz kid showed all the class and experience his 40 years had to offer. God knows how much he wanted that victory, which keeps slipping through his hands since Assen 2017. But, on the road to a success that would have been epic, he found a young man probably more eager than him.
Rins committed no errors on his Suzuki and, four laps from the finish, he passed the nine-time world champion and took the lead.
From then on, he skillfully protected his position, without ever losing his composure, not even when - with the last drops of energy he had and the last grip of his tires - Valentino got closer, making us fear or hope for one of his legendary last laps.
He didn't make it. Alex didn't let him get close and ended the game with an advantage of less than half second.
A nice race. A sign that Michelin brought tires to Austin that were able to keep up the pace until the end.
Ducati on the podium with Jack Miller. Dovizioso leaves with a wooden spoon.
There was also a Ducati on the podium alongside Suzuki and Yamaha. It was Jack Miller’s. He who managed to keep his impetus at bay by getting a podium that he has missed out on since his 2016 Assen victory and after his two fourth places in Argentina and France in 2018.
Andrea Dovizioso was left with a wooden spoon in a comeback race but takes home 54 points, which take him to the top of the world championship. A 10 point advantage over Marquez, who was overtaken by Rossi (51) and Rins (49).
Dovi, however, has little to be happy about. You don't win the world championship hoping for the misfortunes of others. But it's also true that the only way to beat Marquez is hoping for him to make mistakes.
Franco Morbidelli also deserves a mention. A good 5th, ahead of Petrucci, even if the difference in seconds - eighteen - is a lot.
Fabio Quartararo also had a good race. He's a rookie who continues to amaze us. Pol Espargarò's eighth place with the KTM was excellent, even if a gap of 30" is like Mt. Everest, and climbing to the top won't be easy for the team from Mattighofen.
From these gaps onward, we're talking about the Bronx of rankings, even if relegating the other rookie, Francesco Bagnaia, to this isn't great.
Instead, we should just go ahead and forget Maverick Vinales' race all together. He paid the price for his jump start. An error he shared with Mir and not looked over by the inflexible jury headed by Freddie Spencer.
Like Pol and the KTM, the same applies to Andrea Iannone. The only Aprilia at the finish line after Aleix Espargaro's fall. The road is long, but it's important for both teams not to give up.
Something we urge two riders, who are really going through a rough time, not to do: Cal Crutchlow - out of the race because of a fall on the sixth lap while riding with Valentino Rossi in third position - and also Jorge Lorenzo who left the race at the 11th lap in tenth position.
Now back to Europe. In Jerez on May 5th.
Marc, we're sorry for you, but your slip up gives us hope for a comeback that we already know will be exciting.
You don't like winning easy, do you?