Bastianini wins COTA MotoGP race, Miller third

Enea Bastianini. Picture: MotoGP.com

Enea Bastianini has won MotoGP’s Grand Prix of the Americas on his year-old Ducati as factory counterpart and long-time race leader Jack Miller came home in third.

Gresini Racing’s Bastianini prevailed by just over two seconds in the end, with Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins passing Miller, twice, on the 20th and final lap at the Circuit of The Americas.

Joan Mir finished fourth, ahead of Francesco Bagnaia and Marc Marquez, the latter of whom stormed his way back from the very rear of the field after a poor getaway.

The net result is that Round 1 winner Bastianini is back in the lead of the championship, with a five-point margin over Rins and another six points on he who was the victor a week earlier in Argentina, namely Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing).

When the lights went out at COTA, Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) got a slightly better launch from the middle of the front row than pole-sitter Jorge Martin (Pramac Ducati) and, with the inside line for the first corner, took the early lead.

Martin passed Miller at Turn 19 but the Queenslander went straight back down the inside of the Spaniard at Turn 20 and would head the field back to the start/finish line at the end of the standing lap.

At that point, Bastianini was third, from Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo), Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha), Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati), Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar), Rins, Aleix Espargaro, and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda).

Marquez (Repsol Honda) sat 17th, having dropped all the way to the back of the 24-bike field at the start.

Zarco quickly restored the all-Ducati top five from qualifying by overtaking Quartararo, before Rins passed team-mate Mir for seventh on Lap 2 and Quartararo for sixth on Lap 3.

Zarco was up to fourth when he made a move on Bagnaia stick on Lap 5 at Turn 1, at which time the top five was still covered by 1.3s, and Rins finally prevailed in his battle with Quartararo at the end of the back straight on that same lap, promoting #42 to sixth.

Mir soon also got by Quartararo, as Rins passed Bagnaia for fifth on their way down the hill on Lap 6, at which time he was about half a second behind Zarco.

Rins passed Zarco on Lap 7 at Turn 11, although the Frenchman used Ducati power to blaze back ahead of the Suzuki down the back straight.

At the end of said straight, Marquez got back into the top 10 when he went down the inside of team-mate Pol Espargaro, as Martin and Bastianini continued to tail Miller at the very front of the field.

Rins executed a block pass on Zarco at his preferred location of Turn 11 on Lap 9 and finally shook off #5 when the Frenchman could not stick the re-pass at Turn 12.

As far as the top three was concerned, Miller was starting to put a few more tenths between himself and Martin, while Bastianini was hardly unsettled when Rins made an unsuccessful attempt to pass the #23 Ducati on Lap 10.

At the halfway mark, Miller led from Martin, Bastianini, Rins, Zarco, Bagnaia, Mir, Quartararo, Marquez, and Espargaro in 10th.

When Bastianini went up the inside of Martin on Lap 12 at Turn 1, he was still within a second of Miller, and set about catching up to the factory Ducati rider.

Miller tried to respond, but had been caught by the Gresini rider on Lap 15, and ceded the lead as they ran down the back straight on Lap 16.

Bastianini was half a second clear of #43 at the end of Lap 17, and a full second up the road with two laps to go, before converting that advantage into his second victory of both this season and his MotoGP career.

The battle for the minor placings, however, turned out to be a thriller.

Rins picked off a fading Martin to put himself into third on Lap 12, and started to become a threat to Miller in the final few laps.

On the last lap, he went down the inside of the #43 Ducati at the Turn 11 hairpin, had not the horsepower to stay ahead as they tore down the back straight, but managed to pass Miller again at Turn 19.

Rins finished 2.058s behind Bastianini and 0.254s ahead of Miller, with Mir fourth on the second of the Suzukis.

The latter, as well as Bagnaia, had passed Martin on Lap 14 and that was where they would stay for the rest of the race.

Marquez, meanwhile, had not long got into ninth position when he and fellow champion Quartararo engaged in battle on Lap 14.

They both cleared Martin on Lap 17 and continued with some increasingly ragged exchanges until Marquez took the chequered flag barely a tenth of a second ahead of Quartararo on Lap 20.

Martin got home in eighth and team-mate Zarco had a similar story.

He lost fifth spot to Bagnaia on Lap 12 and continued his slide until crossing the finish line in ninth, with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) rounding out the top 10.

Aleix Espargaro finished 11th, ahead of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM), Pol Espargaro, and Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu LCR Honda), the latter of whom ran as high as seventh, on the opening lap.

Monster Energy Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli scored the final world championship point by taking 15th position, with Andrea Dovizioso (WithU RNF Yamaha) 16th and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Ducati) 17th.

The other finishers, from 18th onwards, were Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM), Raul Fernandez (Tech3 KTM), Remy Gardner (Tech3 KTM), Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati), and Darryn Binder (WithU RNF Yamaha).

Alex Marquez (Castrol LCR Honda) crashed out on Lap 5, after Marco Bezzecchi had already apparently relented due to smoke coming from his Mooney VR46 Ducati.

Round 5 is the Portuguese Grand Prix, at Portimao, on April 22-24.

Race results: Americas MotoGP

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time/Gap
1 23 Enea BASTIANINI ITA Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 41:23.111
2 42 Alex RINS ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki +2.058
3 43 Jack MILLER AUS Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati +2.312
4 36 Joan MIR ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki +3.975
5 63 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati +6.045
6 93 Marc MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda +6.617
7 20 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +6.760
8 89 Jorge MARTIN ESP Pramac Racing Ducati +8.441
9 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Pramac Racing Ducati +12.375
10 12 Maverick VIÑALES ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia +12.642
11 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia +12.947
12 33 Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +13.376
13 44 Pol ESPARGARO ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda +17.961
14 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda +18.770
15 04 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha +29.319
16 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +29.129
17 10 Luca MARINI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati +29.630
18 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +32.002
19 25 Raul FERNANDEZ ESP Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM +37.062
20 87 Remy GARDNER AUS Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM +42.442
21 49 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO ITA Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati +42.887
22 40 Darryn BINDER RSA WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha +1:42.171
DNF 73 Alex MARQUEZ ESP LCR Honda CASTROL Honda +15 laps
DNF 72 Marco BEZZECCHI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati +18 laps

Race winner: 20 laps

Riders’ championship

Pos Rider Nat Pts
1 Enea Bastianini ITA 61
2 Alex Rins ESP 56
3 Aleix Espargaro ESP 50
4 Joan Mir ESP 46
5 Fabio Quartararo FRA 44
6 Brad Binder RSA 42
7 Jack Miller AUS 31
8 Johann Zarco FRA 31
9 Miguel Oliveira POR 28
10 Jorge Martin ESP 28
11 Pol Espargaro ESP 23
12 Francesco Bagnaia ITA 23
13 Marc Marquez ESP 21
14 Maverick Viñales ESP 19
15 Franco Morbidelli ITA 15
16 Takaaki Nakagami JPN 12
17 Luca Marini ITA 10
18 Marco Bezzecchi ITA 7
19 Darryn Binder RSA 6
20 Alex Marquez ESP 4
21 Andrea Dovizioso ITA 2
22 Remy Gardner AUS 1
23 Raul Fernandez ESP 0
24 Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA 0
25 Stefan Bradl GER 0

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