A pulsating Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas was the stage for Ayumu Sasaki and Husqvarna Motorcycles to again star in the Moto3 category but the Japanese did not reach the flag in Texas.
MotoGP moved through the Americas to the confines of the long, 20-curve Circuit of the Americas near Austin for round three of twenty-one and the tenth Grand Prix at the spectacular venue. The LIQUI MOLY Husqvarna Intact GP team were back to full strength in both the Moto3 and Moto2 classes with Lukas Tulovic returning to the saddle alongside Darryn Binder in the intermediate category after recovering from his wrist injury.
‘COTA’ was bumpy, technical and complex and the difficulty was heightened with cloudy and sometimes damp track conditions during Friday and Saturday practice and qualification. Ayumu Sasaki took his FR 250 GP motorcycle to the top of the time sheets through the sessions and emerged from Q2 with the 2nd best lap-time. It meant the fast Japanese was able to sit on the front row. Rookie teammate Collin Veijer had to stitch the sectors of COTA together and clocked 21st place by Saturday afternoon.
The elongated Texan lap – the second longest trajectory on the MotoGP calendar – meant 14 circulations for the Moto3 field on Sunday morning as the American skies were blue and clear but also chilly and windy. Sasaki moved his way into the group of six riders for victory from the opening minutes of the race. The #71 was constantly setting the pace until three laps from the finish. Sasaki highsided through Turn 13 and his race – and the chance of 25 points – was over. Veijer was mired in the dispute for the top ten and rode well to score 13th and three world championship points.
At the chequered flag Sasaki is now 16th in the world championship standings and Veijer is 19th.
Ayumu Sasaki: “It was a very disappointing race and I have to say sorry to all of my team because we had the speed and I cannot complain about anything. We were leading almost the whole time. It was my mistake again. We have to learn from this…but twice in a row is hard and disappointing. I will try to come back stronger in Jerez.”
Collin Veijer: “A good race and I felt confident on the start but I was held up by another rider and lost contact with the second group. The wind was pretty strong so it was difficult to get a rhythm. I’m happy with the points but we need to improve a few things because I want more. Onto Jerez…”
Husqvarna Motorcycles were luckless in their Moto2 journey in the third Grand Prix of the year. Lukas Tulovic had recovered enough from his injured right wrist to come through his first full practice and qualification programme alongside Darryn Binder but the German slipped out of the running on the first lap of the race. The South African was setting good speed but a fall in FP3 caused a broken hand ended his participation for the weekend.
Darryn Binder: “It's an unfortunate way to end this GP. I just asked for a bit much coming out of Turn 1. I had a highside and broke the metacarpal bone in my ring finger and there is a small fracture next to it as well. Right now, the plan is to fly back to Barcelona and get it sorted out there. I need a couple of days for the swelling to go down before they can operate. Hopefully, they can do it by Tuesday. Once that's done I will know more about when I will be back on the bike and how the recovery will go.”
Lukas Tulovic: “Unfortunately my race was only one sector long. It was quite chaotic at the back of the field. I tried to make up some positions but my start was not so good. In the first chicane, I started to overtake and the rider in front didn't notice me, which led to a contact and to my crash. it was a classic racing accident and unfortunately, it went badly for me. We have to put it behind us now and go back to Europe, to Jerez, to hopefully start from the front to avoid such situations.”
MotoGP takes the hefty trip back to Europe now for more signature events on the 2023 calendar. The first appointment is the Gran Premio MotoGP Guru by Gryfyn de España at the Circuit de Jerez – Angel Nieto at the end of April.
Results Moto3 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas
1. Ivan Ortola (ESP) KTM 32:01.062, 2. Jaume Masia (ESP) Honda +0.457, 3. Xavier Artigas (ESP), CFMOTO +0.558, 13. Collin Veijer (NED) Husqvarna +15.967. DNF. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna
World championship standings Moto3
1. Daniel Holgado (ESP) KTM, 49 points. 2. Diogo Moreira (BRA) KTM, 49. 3. Xavier Artigas (ESP) CFMOTO, 27. 16. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna, 10. 19. Collin Veijer (NED) Husqvarna, 7.
Results Moto2 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas
1. Pedro Acosta (ESP) 34:42.879, 2. Tony Arbolino (ITA) +0.146. 3. Bo Bendsneyder (NED) +5.851, DNF. Lukas Tulovic (GER) Husqvarna, DNS. Darryn Binder (RSA) Husqvarna
World championship standings Moto2
1. Tony Arbolino (ITA), 61 points. 2. Pedro Acosta (ESP), 54. 3. Aron Canet (ESP), 41
16. Darryn Binder (RSA) Husqvarna, 10.