The stars of MotoGP are back at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) for the Grand Prix of America after being forced to miss last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and are chomping at the bit to put on a great show.
The last time MotoGP was in America, it was early 2019 and the names at the top of the order were well known with Alex Rins, Valentino Rossi, and Jack Miller standing on the podium.
Two of this week’s top contenders, Fabio Quartararo and Francesco Bagnaia were outside the top five with a seventh- and ninth-place result respectively. The tide has turned and they stand at the top of the points’ standings this week.
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Finishing Position for Fabio Quartararo
Keys: Quartararo is having a career year with five wins to his credit, but he also has finished off the podium on five occasions. His most recent win came in England and he was second in the latest race in San Marino. Three weeks earlier, he topped the field in Dutch GP and three weeks before then, he was victorious in Italy.
Edge: First. So far this season, Quartararo has not gone three races without winning and if the pattern holds, he is due this week.
How Many Honda Riders in the Top 10
Keys: Marc Marquez is a fairly safe bet to finish in the top 10 with an average of .500 inside that mark. Takaaki Nakagami has the same percentage, but has been a little more miss than hit when he’s been outside that mark.
Edge: Two. Even if Nakagami misses, it’s a fair bet that one of the other three Honda riders will take his place. It’s unlikely that two of them will.
Most Podiums by Manufacturer
Matchup: Yamaha, Ducati, Honda, KTM, Aprilia
Keys: None of the manufacturers have more than three riders inside the top 10 in the points while the top three each race for a different manufacturer. It would not be a complete surprise to see three plates standing tall.
Edge: Ducati. That said, Ducati has three of the top five spots with Bagnaia, Johan Zarco, and Miller. The law of averages puts them up top.
Time Lapse (between 1st and 3rd)
Keys: This might be the most difficult pick of the lineup as the last five GPs have been a mixed bag. The biggest lapse from first to third in that span was Brad Binder’s win over Bagnaia and Jorge Martin
Edge: 3-4 seconds. The most typical recent margin first to third has been about four seconds with a few just above and just below. We’re expecting an exciting race, however, so we’ll lean ‘low’.
Best Finish Among Ducati Riders
Matchup: Francesco Bagnaia, Jack Miller, Johan Zarco, Jorge Martin, Luca Marini, Enea Bastianini
Keys: Miller was consistently fast in free practice and could be the upset rider of the weekend. At the very least, he could be one of the podium finishers for Ducati and if you’re looking to differentiate your picks from the competition, he’s a good choice.
Edge: Bagnaia. With back-to-back wins at Aragon and San Marino plus a podium in Austria, he has the momentum to win the MotoGP Grand Prix of America.
Best Finish Among Rookies
Matchup: Jorge Martin, Luca Marini, Enea Bastianini
Keys: There is a tight battle brewing between Martin and Bastianini with 10 points separating them. Marini is a fairly distant third and can be dropped from consideration.
Edge: Martin. Both Martin and Bastianini have looked good in practice at COTA, but the Pramac Racing rider has a shot at the top 10 in points so Martin gets the nod. Sheer willpower will prove the difference.
If you want to bet on a longshot, Miller has been solid so far at COTA. Bagnaia has those back-to-back wins that can’t be ignored, but Quartararo is hungry after being denied the winner’s share of the pie in his last two starts.