In the Repsol Honda camp. Dani Pedrosa returns to the line-up after a successful operation to his right wrist. Although not 100 percent, Pedrosa is game for the third race of the year, alongside Reigning Champion and team mate Marc Marquez. Both Marquez and Pedrosa have strong records at the technical, 5.513 km Texas circuit, with Marquez capturing his first MotoGP pole and victory at the venue in 2013 and has continued to post flawless qualifying performances and victories there ever since. Pedrosa has climbed the Circuit of the Americas podium three times out of the four occasions on which he has raced there. The team, in turn, have a streak of 14 GP wins in a row on American soil, starting with Pedrosa’s Indianapolis victory in 2010.
Rivals Yamaha MotoGP riders need to put back some good performances at the COTA. Both Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi are keen to get straight back in the hot seat of their YZR-M1s to score some solid points. Viñales arrives in the USA holding fourth place in the championship standings and beaming with his usual fiery determination. The Spanish rider counts the Circuit of The Americas as one of his favourite tracks and is eager to put the learnings from his Argentina experience to good use here. His record at COTA comprise 2nd in Moto3, a win in Moto2 in 2014, and his best MotoGP finish at the American track was a fourth place in 2016. He was unable to finish his first race on a Yamaha on American soil last year, but the solid pace he showed throughout the weekend suggests that he will be a strong contender also this time round.
Rossi currently sits in eighth place in the standings after scoring no points at the last Grand Prix. However, the nine-time World Champion is not a rider that should ever be ruled out. He and his team will pull together and give their 100% to make a strong comeback and turn their fortunes around. The 9-time champion acknowledged in the past that the COTA track has an interesting lay-out that’s not easy to master, but that makes riding there all the more fun for the Doctor. Through recent years he improved his performance at COTA, with a hard fought third place in 2015 and a second place in last year’s race as his best results so far.
Hot on the heels of the Hondas and Yamahas is the Ducati team. Riders Andrea Dovizoso and Jorge Lorenzo are determined to rapidly put behind them the Termas de Río Hondo weekend, and in Texas they will encounter a track where Ducati has scored some quite good results but never a win in the last few years. In the five editions of the GP of the Americas held so far, Dovizioso’s best result is a second place in 2015, while last year the Italian had to settle for sixth. For his part Lorenzo finished second in 2016, while in 2017 he took the chequered flag in ninth place.
The Austin weekend gets underway on Friday with the first free practice session, while the 20-lap race is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.