LCR Honda Castrol's Alex Rins delivered a cool-headed performance in Austin, Texas, USA, to claim the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Round 3 of the 2023 MotoGPTM World Championship. When early pace-setter Francisco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) crashed out, the Spaniard went unchallenged to take the flag comfortably clear of Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). It was another record-beating performance by the MICHELIN Power Slick range in the searing Texas heat.
Bagnaia started MotoGP's North American clash as clear favorite after qualifying on pole and winning Saturday's Sprint Race, and the defending champion effectively powered into the lead at lights-out on Sunday.
As he pulled away from his chasers, he seemed to be heading for a repeat of his success of the previous day, but Rins responded well and, by Lap 6, was putting the Ducati rider under considerable pressure.
Indeed, two laps later, with Rins sitting on his tail, Bagnaia fell while leading for the second grand prix in a row, causing heartache in his team's garage and leaving the Spaniard with a clear track ahead...
At this stage, despite a strong, yet brief challenge from Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who had sliced his way from 10th on the grid to third before retiring on Lap 7, the Spaniard's closest chasers were Quartararo and Marini. However, the intensity of the Franco/Italian pair's scrap for second spot took some of the heat off the satellite Honda rider who managed to stabilize the gap at around two seconds.
Seven laps from the end of the 20-lap contest, Marini succeeded in easing into second place, but any prospect of him catching the leader soon faded, leaving Rins to take the flag by a margin of more than three seconds and notch up his team's first grand prix victory since Cal Crutchlow's success in Argentina five years ago.
In the wake of Quartararo, who was relieved to have scored his first podium since last year's trip to Malaysia, there was a gap of more than four seconds to Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) who had successfully fought off Miguel Oliveira (5th, CryptoDATA RNF MotoGPTM Team).
Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) rounded out the day's top six.
The pace of the grand prix was such that Rins bettered the previous shortest race-duration record by more than eight seconds on his Michelin-equipped Honda, in spite of the hot conditions and strong wind which made life even harder for the riders.
All five versions of the MICHELIN Power Slick (three fronts, two rears) were used over the weekend and took the high track temperatures (up to 45°C) in their stride. The range even racked up more new records as Bagnaia lowered the track's MotoGP benchmark to 2m1.892s in qualifying, while Rins undercut the previous fastest race lap (Bastianini, 2022) by some four-tenths of a second (2m3.126s) on Lap 4. For the race, all the riders, opted for the Hard front and Soft rear.
After three rounds, Bezzecchi continues to dominate the 2023 Riders' standings on 64 points, with Bagnaia (53) in second place and Rins now third (47).
Next round: Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España (Jerez, Spain), April 30.