The dark clouds looming over the Circuits of The Americas today may look like a small ray of hope for the bulk of the MotoGP field, at least compared to the prospect of Marc Marquez riding off into the sunset.
Marquez has been in imperious form this weekend at the circuit he scored his first-ever MotoGP victory one year ago. Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa may still hold realistic hopes of overcoming Marquez, but the rest of the top men have lowered their sights with a podium result considered about the best they can hope for… unless something unusual happens.
And that bit of ‘unusual’ might just be delivered in the form of precipitation. The Sunday warm-ups have just gotten underway in dry but overcast conditions, while the forecast currently predicts a 30-40% chance of rain in the early afternoon.
Over the past few years, the MotoGP circuits have been firmly divided between the ‘Honda tracks’ and the ‘Yamaha tracks’ (although the entire calendar has shifted in Honda’s favor to some degree).
Last season, Jorge Lorenzo found himself on his back foot almost immediately. He was unable to capitalize on two of those crucial Yamaha tracks — Jerez and Le Mans. Unusually high ambient temperatures in Spain robbed the M1 of its circuit-specific advantages on race day and then rain foiled Lorenzo’s plans in France. Even before his collarbone injuries, Lorenzo was facing an uphill struggle to hold back the Honda freight train with a number of Honda tracks approaching.
Lorenzo gave away one of his better circuits already this season, crashing from the lead at Qatar, a track he had won at five times previously during his Grand Prix career.
While certainly less than an ideal situation for Lorenzo, it’s not impossible for the reverse to happen today, particularly if it rains, setting the stage for an outside chance at an effective title fight reset.
Lorenzo is an experienced rider who has won races in the wet, and he may very well be tempted to gamble a bit in hopes of erasing his early deficit.
Of course, Lorenzo isn’t the only savvy racer in the field who has established their credentials in the wet. The chances for a Valentino Rossi victory increase exponentially in inclement conditions.
Or what about a shock Ducati triumph? Rainy conditions help to nullify the Ducati’s weaknesses and both Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow can splash around with the best of them.
And that’s just a small sampling of the riders who might look to seize such a rare opportunity.
The rain is sometimes called the great equalizer — a leveler that puts all riders on equal ground. That may or may not be the case, but it certainly does makes things different, and different is exactly what everyone not named Marc Marquez may need today.Austin, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, MotoGP, Valentino Rossi