Friday, April 8, 2016

2016 Grand Prix of the Americas Preview

MotoGP returns for its only round in the United States for the fourth Grand Prix of the America from Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. This is the third round of the 2016 MotoGP season after the series raced under the lights in Qatar in March and last week in Argentina. This is the final round before the start of the 11-round European portion of the schedule.

Marc Márquez took the championship lead after his victory in the Argentine Grand Prix last week. He is the only rider to have stood on the podium in each race this season after he finished third in Qatar. Márquez has won all seven of his MotoGP starts in the United States and is undefeated at Circuit of the Americas. Including his 125cc and Moto2 statistics, Márquez has won his last nine starts in the United States and has eight pole positions in the United States.

Valentino Rossi is second in the championship, eight points behind the Honda rider. He has finished fourth and second this season. Rossi has not won in the United States since the 2008 United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. He finished third in last year's Grand Prix of the Americas, his best finish at Austin. Dani Pedrosa sits on 27 points after a fifth and third in the first two races. Pedrosa missed last year's Austin race due to an arm injury. He finished second in his other two Austin starts. After falling in Argentina, Jorge Lorenzo's victory at Qatar has him fourth in the championship. Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso was set to be second in the championship, a point behind Márquez as he entered the penultimate corner and was then hit by his teammate Andrea Iannone. Instead of having 40 points, Dovizioso is fifth with 23 points. Dovizioso finished second last year at Austin and finished third in 2014.

Tech3 Yamaha's Pol Espargaró sits sixth in the championship on 19 points, one ahead of Avinita Racing Ducati of Héctor Barberá. Aspar Ducati's Eugene Laverty is eighth in the championship with 17 points after he scored a career-best fourth in Argentina. Prior to that, Laverty's best MotoGP finish was 12th, which occurred at the prior round in Qatar and at Barcelona last year. Tech3's Bradley Smith has two eighth-place finishes and is on 16 points. The Suzuki riders Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró are tied for tenth, each with ten points.

The Aprilla riders Stefan Bradl and Álvaro Bautista both have nine points from the first two rounds. Rookie Tito Rabat has scored points in his first two MotoGP starts and the Marc VDS Honda rider has eight points. Pramac Ducati riders Scott Redding and Michele Pirro are 15th and 16th in the championship with six and four points respectively. The last rider classified is Marc VDS' Jack Miller on two points.

Loris Baz, Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Iannone and Yonny Hernández are the four riders who did not score any points from the first two rounds.

In Moto2, Thomas Lüthi leads the championship after a win in Qatar and seventh in Argentina with 34 points. Defending Moto2 champion and winner of the most recent round in Argentina, Johann Zarco trails Lüthi by five points. Last year's Austin Moto2 winner Sam Lowes is two points behind Zarco with Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin on 23 points. Dominique Aegerter rounds out the top five with 22 points.

Brad Binder finished second and third in the first two Moto3 rounds and he leads the championship with 36 points, five ahead of Qatar winner Niccolò Antonelli. Jorge Navarro is third on 29 points with Argentina winner Khairul Idham Pawi on 25 points. Francesco Bagnaia is fifth on 16 points.

The 2016 Grand Prix of the Americas will take place at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday April 10th.