until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Vinales dominates COTA sprint ahead of Marquez

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Aprilia MotoGP rider Maverick Vinales took a dominant victory in the 10-lap sprint race at the Circuit of the Americas, leading from lights to flag.

COTA specialist Marc Marquez and championship leader Jorge Martin completed the podium, but Vinales never looked under serious threat from either after making an audacious early breakaway.

Having kept the lead off the line, Vinales pulled Marquez and rookie Pedro Acosta along and away from the chasing pack in the early going, before breaking away dramatically from Marquez on lap three.

It sealed his win, with Marquez busy fending off Acosta and a charging Martin - who had joined their battle after clearing the works Ducati of Enea Bastianini - and dropping two seconds back from the leader.

Acosta eventually attempted a lunge on Marquez, but the six-time champion cut back ahead of him and it left the rookie vulnerable to being picked off by Martin with an aggressive move under braking onto the back straight.

But Marquez - who looked to be struggling through the first-sector esses and nearly crashed there on the fifth lap - stabilised his relative pace from there, never allowing Martin to get close enough to attack.

He even briefly looked like he may give Vinales something to think about, especially when the Aprilia man made a mess of braking at Turn 12, but Vinales quickly gathered himself and continued to dominate, finishing 2.3s clear.

Acosta had to settle for fourth and came very close to being overhauled by Vinales' team-mate Aleix Espargaro on the final lap, the pair separated by a tenth at the flag.

Bastianini looked to be struggling for pace in the early stages, but found his rhythm in the second half after dropping back behind KTM's Jack Miller.

He lunged at Miller at the final corner on the penultimate lap, but while Miller successfully countered that, he was powerless to stop Bastianini going through at Turn 12 on the final tour.

Bastianini's team-mate Pecco Bagnaia had a rough showing.

The reigning champion's Ducati bounced its front tyre off the line and Bagnaia was down from fourth to 10th after the start. Like Bastianini, he looked to be off the pace in the early stages, though found something extra to work his way past first Pramac Ducati's Franco Morbidelli and then Trackhouse Aprilia's Raul Fernandez on the final lap for eighth place.

Fernandez did manage to hang on to ninth, giving Trackhouse a point on its debut on home soil.

It was an incident-filled race more towards the back, with three of the four participating Hondas crashing out - first Takaaki Nakagami, then Joan Mir, then Johann Zarco.

None were in the mix for points anyway, and the sole Honda left standing - Luca Marini's - was nearly five seconds behind penultimate place at the flag.

Also crashing out was Augusto Fernandez (Tech3 Gas Gas), while Fabio Di Giannantonio had an apparent engine failure on his 2023 Ducati while on the back straight on the opening lap, as a massive plume of smoke billowed out under braking.

Bastianini is now Martin's nearest rival in the standings, but the Pramac man is a healthy 24 points clear.

Sprint results

1Maverick Viñales
2Marc Marquez
3Jorge Martin
4Pedro Acosta
5Aleix Espargaró
6Enea Bastianini
7Jack Miller
8Francesco Bagnaia
9Raul Fernandez
10Franco Morbidelli
11Miguel Oliveira
12Brad Binder
13Marco Bezzecchi
14Alex Marquez
15Fabio Quartararo
16Alex Rins
17Luca Marini
Johann Zarco
Joan Mir
Augusto Fernandez
Takaaki Nakagami
Fabio Di Giannantonio
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