Marc Marquez wins at COTA, dominating to lead all 20 laps in MotoGP’s return to Austin

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Eight-time world champion Marc Marquez scored his second victory of the season as MotoGP returned to the COTA circuit Austin, Texas, for the first time since 2019.

The Spaniard, who has six titles in the premier division and two in the support series, led all 20 laps of the main event after starting third at Circuit of the Americas. He finished more than 4 seconds ahead of runner-up Fabio Quartararo.

It was the 58th career victory in MotoGP and seventh in eight starts at COTA for Marquez, who missed all but one race last year and the start of the 2021 season after injuring his arm during a crash in the season opener.

Marquez celebrated winning the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas by carrying a flag on the cooldown lap saluting late American champion Nicky Hayden.

“The plan exactly was like I did the race,” Marquez said. “Start well, be first in the first corner. And then when the tires started to drop a little bit, start to push. That’s exactly what I did, and then I saw I increased the gap and was riding comfortable.”

Francesco Bagnaia, who started on the pole position in pursuit of his third consecutive victory, rounded out the podium after a penalty to Jorge Martin, who had crossed the line in third but was scored in fifth behind Alex Rins.

Enea Bastianini finished sixth, followed by Joan Mir, Jack Miller, Brand Binder and Pol Espargaro to round out the top 10. Mir and Miller exchanged words after contact on the last lap.

Quartararo increased his championship points lead to 52 (254-202) over Bagnaia, putting the Frenchman in position to clinch the title in the next race.

In the Moto2 race, American rookie Cameron Beaubier finished a career-best fifth before his home crowd.

Beaubier races for American Racing Team, which recently announced his return for the 2022 season along with fellow American rider Sean Dylan Kelly as a new teammate. Beaubier won five Superbike championships in six seasons before making the move to Moto2.

The Red Bull Circuit of the Americas marked the first MotoGP race weekend at Circuit of the Americas since April 2019. Last year’s race was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this season’s Oct. 3 race was added in June after the cancellation of the Japan round.