Photos/Words – Jennifer Stamps
Often called the Formula 1 series of motorcycle racing, the MotoGP series buzzed its way through Austin last week at Circuit of the Americas with the Redd Bull Grand Prix of the Americas. With newly (re)painted stars adorning the track, the fantastic new track welcomed MotoGP and its fans with open arms. To my surprise, the house was packed, with an estimated 131,000 people in attendance over the weekend. Race day alone drew a crowd of more than 61,000 eager and excited fans from all over the world, beating COTA’s own attendance estimates.
The attendance figures weren’t the most surprising part of the Red Bull of the Americas. That honor belonged to a rookie MotoGP rider named Marc Márquez. Turning 20 earlier this year, Márquez is the youngest rider in the MotoGP series. Making his debut at the first MotoGP race of the season in Qatar two weeks ago, Márquez finished a very impressive third place behind the MotoGP superstars, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
Fast forward to COTA for the second race of the season. While out on track, during practice, Márquez crashed his bike. Sure, these guys are taught how to crash and slide, and it usually happens to at least one driver during a weekend – but a crash is still a crash. After what seemed to be 20-30 seconds of unresponsiveness from Márquez, the rookie stood up and limped off the track. Márquez was unable to make it back out on track before the practice session came to a close – but he didn’t need to. After setting the fastest lap later that day during the qualifying session, he started Sunday’s race on pole position, seemingly forgetting that the crash ever happened.
After a very exciting battle on race day between Márquez and his Repsol Honda teammate, Dani Pedrosa, Márquez walked away with his first ever MotoGP win – after only his second start. If I were you, I’d take note and remember his name. Youngest rider, fastest lap setter, and in 2 for 2 on the podium.
The next race on the schedule is the MotoGP Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez on May 5.