Moto GP returns this weekend as the season heads to Austin, Texas, for the second round of the season in the shape of the Grand Prix of Americas on Sunday.
The season got off to a cracking start at the Losail circuit in Qatar two weeks ago with an action-packed race eventually being won by last season's championship winner, Spaniard Marc Marquez.
He beat veteran Italian rider Valentino Rossi into second by just a quarter of a second, and the Repsol Honda rider will be looking to capture another victory at the Circuit of the Americas this weekend.
It was an extraordinary result for 21-year-old Marquez, who has barely recovered from a broken leg he sustained during a dirt bike training accident.
Also for Repsol Honda, Dani Pedrosa claimed third place, meaning the Belgian-based team are looking good in the constructors' championship.
As much excitement is expected in Texas, and here's a full race schedule as well as information on how to catch the race.
|Saturday, April 12||6.35 p.m.||Moto3 QP|
|7.30 p.m.||MotoGP FP4|
|8.10 p.m.||Moto GP Q1|
|8.35 p.m.||MotoGP Q2|
|9.05 p.m.||Moto2 QP|
|Sunday, April 13||2.40 p.m.||Moto3 WUP|
|3.10 p.m.||Moto2 WUP|
|3.40 p.m.||MotoGP WUP|
|5 p.m.||Moto3 RAC|
|6.20 p.m.||Moto2 RAC|
|8 p.m.||MotoGP RAC|
Riders to Watch
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda
After his mightily impressive win in Qatar two weeks ago, all eyes will be on the Spaniard to see if there is any evidence of trouble as he continues to recover from a broken leg.
Speaking ahead of this weekend's race, he said that he had been working on improving the strength in his leg after he had struggled with so many right-hand turns on the Losail track.
As reported on MotoGP.com, he said:
Since round one I’ve been focusing on getting my leg stronger and my body fitter in preparation for the Austin race this weekend.
This track is one of my favourites, I had a good race here last year where I have good memories of taking my first win in the MotoGP class. [...]
Thankfully the majority of hard turns are left handers at this track which is easier on my leg as I’m still not 100 per cent fit.
The defending champion, having won the title at the first time of asking last season, his competitors may be fearing what possibly he might be capable of when he is 100 per cent fit.
He won this race last year, one of six victories, and he must certainly be counted as the favourite this weekend despite his claim that he is not up to full strength.
His battle with Rossi in Qatar and his eventual victory showed some real grit and determination and left nobody in any doubt that Marquez is the one to beat in the championship this year.
On that occasion, the Spaniard set his fastest lap on the 22nd lap to keep Rossi at bay and claim victory by 0.259 seconds, per Crash.net.
And if the opening practice session is anything to go by, Marquez looks in fine form in Texas, per BT Sport:
Jorge Lorenzo, Movistar Yamaha
The Spaniard had a nightmare in Qatar last time out as he fell while leading on the first lap.
Having fired himself into the lead from the second row, the 26-year-old lost the front of his M1, and his race was over.
Second in the championships last season to Marquez, and champion in 2012, Lorenzo will be looking to get this campaign started properly in the U.S.
He had eight victories last year, per MotoGP.com, and needs to get back to winning ways as soon as possible to avoid losing sight of Marquez early on in the season.
However, he struggled in first practice, per MotoMatters' David Emmett:
Jorge Lorenzo is having a miserable start. Last Yamaha and 2 seconds down on Marquez. 12th place. Not good.— David Emmett (@motomatters) April 11, 2014
But he insists that he wants at least a repeat of his third place from this circuit last year.
As reported by MotoGP.com, he said:
After a very disappointing race result in Qatar I look forward to racing at Austin to try to get a good result and forget as soon as possible all the things that happened in Losail.
COTA was not one of the best tracks for us last year. [...]
In the end we got a good result and we finished only three seconds behind the winner.
I guess this year the pace could be even better because our bike has made one step ahead with the new seamless and the chassis is pretty good.
Also, I feel almost perfect, physically at one hundred per cent and that is so important to try to fight for the victory elsewhere.
He will have to fight incredibly hard to improve on his result from last year, but he needs a good race or else he could have a mountain to climb at this very early stage.