The predicted bad weather didn’t have much of an effect on the support class races, with just a few spots of rain to hamper the riders in Moto3 and Moto2. Brit boys Danny Kent and Sam Lowes both used their racecraft to pull out leads which they converted into convincing wins at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin Texas.
Both riders had looked strong over the weekend in the lead up to the race but had faltered when in control before, missing poles and crashing out while leading races, but no such mistakes were made this time.
Miguel Oliveira had been the early race leader, often finding himself at the sharp end of the lead group before crashing out of contention. It was to be Leopard Racing rider Kent who had the mind to sit back and let the pack test conditions before hitting the front when confident with what the track had to offer and pull away for a commanding win with a lead of 8.5 seconds.
Behind him newcomer to Austin, rookie Fabio Quartararo was to see off some experienced opposition, including late faller Alexis Masbou and Kent’s team-mate Efren Vazquez to take second – a first podium finish in just his second grand prix.
Vazquez held on for third completing an all Honda podium, with the consistent Enea Bastianini missing out in fourth after another strong race at the front for Gresini.
The first bike over the line not to be a Honda was the Ajo KTM of Brad Binder in fifth, while John McPhee had a strong finish after a tough weekend in sixth for Saxoprint RTG.
Italy’s Andrea Locatelli, who was lucky to finish at all after avoiding the riderless bike of Oliveira after his crash, got past Romano Fenati in the closing stages for seventh with Isaac Vinales and Karel Hanika in the same battle to complete the top ten in ninth and tenth respectively.
The remaining points went to Jakub Kornfeil in 11th, Andrea Migno in 12th, Philipp Oettl in 13th, Niklas Ajo in 14th and Matteo Ferrari in 15th.
It took a lot longer for Sam Lowes to break free of his battle with main rival Johann Zarco but the Speed Up man’s well timed lunge for the win paid off, pulling out a gap of around two seconds to be in control at the chequered flag.
The pair has traded personal best laps at the front for a tense and fast Moto2 race until Lowes pushed hard with six laps to go to take his first ever victory in Grand Prix racing.
Zarco took second for Ajo Motorsport, with the leading group reduced from four to three after the Frenchman and pole sitter Xavier Simeon found themselves in competition for the same piece of track. The Gresini man lost out and headed into the gravel.
Rookie Alex Rins (pAginas Amarillas HP 40) leads the Moto2 standings with his first podium in the class, in touch with the lead trio throughout and able to capitalise with a rostrum finish after Simeon’s fall.
Tito Rabat had lead at the first corner in an up and down race for the reigning champion, fading before fighting back for fourth for EG 0,0 Marc VDS.
Italtrans rider Franco Morbidelli again equalled his career best performance in fifth, Hafizh Syahrin put in his best performance since his wil-card podium at home in Malaysia in sixth, with the experienced Ant West (QMMF) and Mika Kallio (Italtrans) fighting up to seventh and eighth.
The second QMMF bike with Julian Simon took ninth with Taka Nakagami looking to have found some of his old fire for a spot inside the top ten.
Also in the points were Simone Corsi in 11th, Tom Luthi in 12th, Marcel Schroetter in 13th Sandro Cortese in 14th and Rookie Alex Marquez in 15th.
Qatar race winner Jonas Folger was next across the line in 16th for AGR Team.
The race action continues just next weekend as the paddock heads to Argentina for round three of the championship.
What have we learned?
That British racing should have a very bright future if our young stars in the support classes have their talent supported and can build on their success in Austin. Both Lowes and Kent took their chances and were tactically excellent putting in very mature performances.
Another key factor to note was that being new to something is no obstacle to doing well, Fabio Quartararo already has his first podium under his belt in his rookie Moto3 season at a track he has never been to before, with a whole host of Spanish tracks he is already accustomed to still to come.
Similarly Alex Rins leads Moto2 after a solid 4th in his first race in the class in Qatar, going one better in COTA with third in just his second outing.
The future of MotoGP with such talent on the horizon looks very exciting indeed.
Full Moto3 race results here.
Full Moto2 race results here.