Rins wins for Honda in Texas
By Kyle White
Monday 17th April, 2023 - 7:32am
Alex Rins produced a sensational ride to win the Grand Prix of the Americas in Texas on the satellite LCR Honda after Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia dramatically crashed out of the lead on Sunday.
It was a phenomenal result for Rins in his maiden season on the Honda as the Spaniard became the first rider for the Japanese manufacturer, other than Marc Marquez, to win a MotoGP race since Briton Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda in Argentina in 2018.
Rins’ sixth career premier class victory came after he qualified in second place and finished as the runner-up in the Sprint race behind Bagnaia on Saturday.
He wrapped up the win by 3.5s from Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati), who was celebrating his maiden podium in MotoGP.
It was also Rins’ second MotoGP success in Texas after he won the race for Suzuki in 2019 when Marquez fell from the lead.
Fabio Quartararo secured his first rostrum finish of 2023 in third, crossing the line 1.5s further on the Monster Energy Yamaha.
Bagnaia led Rins for the first seven laps until his race came to an abrupt halt, with the factory Ducati rider sliding from his machine early on entry into Turn 2.
The Italian was coming under pressure from Rins when he went down.
It was Bagnaia’s second crash in as many races after he threw away what appeared to be a certain 20 points in the Sunday race at Round 2 in Argentina.
In a race of attrition at Round 3 of the championship at the Circuit of the Americas, there were only 13 finishers, with a host of riders finding themselves in the gravel.
Australia’s Jack Miller was among the fallers after he crashed out of third on lap seven.
Miller, ninth in the Sprint, made a superb start from the fourth row on the Red Bull KTM and was keeping Bagnaia and Rins in his sights when he slid off.
Gresini Ducati rider Alex Marquez’s race was over before it started when he was wiped out by Jorge Martin on the first lap.
Martin, who claimed a heroic third in the Sprint race from 12th on the grid, lost the front of his machine and his Pramac Ducati collected the luckless Marquez.
It was the culmination of a nightmare weekend for Marquez, who also failed to finish the Sprint race when he crashed moments after he was sick inside his helmet.
Bagnaia’s shock exit left Rins with a lead of 2.4s from Quartararo and Marini.
On lap 13, Marini used the power of his Ducati to effortlessly pass Quartararo’s Yamaha on the main straight and quickly slashed the deficit to Rins, closing the gap to 1.6s.
However, the race leader responded and extended his advantage on the LCR Honda once more to 2.5s with five laps to go.
Marini was comfortable in second as he opened a gap of 1.2s over Quartararo by the end of lap 17, while Rins continued to manage the race from the front, maintaining a cushion of around two seconds.
Rins was in control by 2.8s going into the 20th and final lap and he held it together to seal a memorable triumph for Lucio Cecchinello’s satellite Honda team.
Marini closed out the runner-up spot ahead of Quartararo, with Aprilia Racing’s Maverick Viñales enjoying a strong end to the race in fourth.
Miguel Oliveira, competing in his first race weekend since the season-opener in Portugal – where he was taken out by Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez – took the chequered flag in a solid fifth on the RNF Aprilia.
Seven-time COTA winner Marquez remains sidelined as a result of a right hand injury he sustained in the incident, but is targeting a return in Round 4 at Jerez in Spain at the end of April.
Marco Bezzecchi completed the top six on the second of the VR46 Ducati machines and still leads the championship by 11 points after Bagnaia’s costly blunder.
Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati), Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha), Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati) and Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Tech3 KTM) were the top ten.
Ducati test rider Michele Pirro, standing in for the injured Enea Bastianini – last year’s winner in America – on the Lenovo Ducati – was 11th ahead of KTM test rider Jonas Folger (GASGAS Tech3 KTM), who is deputising for the injured Pol Espargaro.
Brad Binder, who crashed on lap 11, was the 13th and final finisher, earning championship points for the Red Bull KTM team after he re-joined the race.
Also among the fallers were Repsol Honda’s Joan Mir, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) and Stefan Bradl, who was standing in for Marquez on the Repsol Honda.
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