MotoGP 2023 – COTA, Round 3

Practice and Qualifying

Before I forget, I want to salute Jack Miller, waxing euphoric about the KTM during one of the incessant time-filling videos, then going out and crashing five times before the Sprint race.

Friday was indicative of the New World Order in MotoGP, in which the last shall be first and the first shall be last. Pecco Bagnaia finishing first in Portimao and 16th in Argentina. Alex Marquez being unable to find his ass with both hands and a flashlight for three full seasons on the Honda suddenly becoming A Force to be Reckoned With in year four on a used Ducati. Marco Bezzecchi winning in the rain at Rio Hondo before having to go through QP1 (which he did) in Texas. At the end of the day the results looked like this:

Here’s a couple of dispatches from our trackside reporter Buzz:

Update #1.

The wife and I decided to walk around a bit and Shazam! Two vans pulled up to our hotel and a bunch of Mooney VR46 team members were checking in to our hotel! I didn’t see Luca or Bez (not that I would have recognized them immediately) and certainly the legend himself isn’t staying here or even in Austin with a pregnant woman at home.

I’ll keep my eyes open. Gonna spend the rest of the evening digesting my mound of meat from Terry Black’s BBQ.

Day 1. I’ll let you read the inter webs for a report on how today’s action unfolded. My behind the scenes look at the action was pretty incredible today.

Update #2

We met a British couple at the hotel bar last night and they are here for the race as well; first time in Austin. I told them I would show them around the track since I’m a vet and they offered a ride in their rental car. In addition, they happened to meet a man on the flight over who handles all the awesome camera technology like the bike cams, shoulder cams, etc. He offered a behind the scenes tour.

After marching them all over the track and walking 8 miles according to our Apple watches, they were contacted by camera guy, and he invited us all back. We were given security credentials and walked through the paddock back to the tech area. He showed us how they use all the camera technology and how most critically, they managed bandwidth. With all the cell technology and other demands for wireless, it is a huge part of the job.

We returned to the stands to finish watching practice and walked back to the paddock once it was over to return our credentials. At that point all the riders started moving from the garage to the paddock offices. It’s a gauntlet of fans with paddock access and was pretty fun watching people run back and forth seeking autographs when a rider would appear. Personally, I got a fist bump with Pecco, a high-five with Jack Miller and helped others get photos with Fabio and Cole Trickle. I also said hello to Brad Binder. Total fun! Wife was overwhelmed.


Bezzecchi and Zarco made it through Q1. Jorge Martin, he of the new all-time track record at COTA, crashed twice in Q2, leading to the first four rows of the grid, as follows:

The Sprint was pretty much of a snooze. Bagnaia got his mojo back, took the lead on the first lap and was never challenged. Alex Rins, making the LCR Honda look, well, competitive, chased the Italian for 10 laps but was never a threat; his nine points were a sigh of relief for HRC, as nobody else went anywhere. Poor Fabio over-rode his Yamaha into the gravel on Lap 5; it’s going to be a long year for the former world champion, Martin moved his Desmo from P12 to P3 to capture the final step on the podium. Aleix dogged him after getting passed on Lap 7 but couldn’t track him down. Alex Marquez came back down to Earth, sliding out on Lap 7 after throwing up in his helmet OMG. The Mooney boys finished sixth and seventh behind Brad Binder. And that was that.


This was one of those race days when I should have been covering Moto3 or Moto2 instead of MotoGP. Moto3 was incredible, four young riders battling on the absolute limit over the entire race. The eventual winner, Ivan Ortola, somehow avoided an excruciating high side at Turn 2 of the first lap, dropped back to around P23, then sliced his way through the field to engage with Jaume Masia, Xavi Artigas and Diogo Moreira before taking the checkered flag in P1, as good a win as you’ll ever see in racing, two wheels or four. Even horses. The ultimate order of finish was kind of random, as each rider performed well enough to have won on any day. Ortola, it seems, is the Next Next Next Great Spanish Rider, behind Pedro Acosta and Izan Guevara.

Moto2 provided another nailbiter, as Tony Arbolino and Pedro Acosta put on a terrific show, with Acosta eventually prevailing, and Arbolino declaring in Parc Fermé that “this ain’t over.” Both riders are slated for MotoGP next season, where they will pay dues for a season or two before raising the level of competition yet again.

MotoGP on Sunday was, in a word, terrible. Eight riders crashed out, leaving 14 on the track to see the chekered flag. Here’s how bad it was: Jonas Folger scored three (3) championship points subbing for Pol Espargaro. Rookie Augusto Fernandez scored five (5) points. Pecco Bagnaia, putting the screws to everyone who had him on their fantasy team, crashed out of the lead on Lap 8 under relentless pressure from LCR Honda pilot Alex Rins, who went on to win on the only Honda to finish the race. Luca Marini found the podium on his Ducati, as did Fabio Quartararo, who was giving up amazing yardage on the long back straight, then gaining some of it back on the twisty parts of the track. Rather than summarizing the results, let’s just look at the dunnage:

Lap 1: Jorge Martin shits his pants and takes Alex Marquez out with him in Turn 1, while Aleix slides off and out at Turn 12.

On Lap 4 my notes read, “When will Jack Miller crash?” Answer: Lap 7.

Pecco threw it at the scenery on Lap 8. Raul Fernandez retired with a mechanical around the same time

Joan Mir crashed, again, on Lap 9.

Brad Binder crashed on Lap 11 and remounted, ultimately gathering two championship points, which is an editorial statement in itself.

Takaa Nakagami crashed on Lap 12, as if anyone cares.

Stefan Bradl, subbing for #93, crashed on Lap 19 in order to get mentioned in this article.

A brutal day in the premier class. Alex Rins, it says here, will not factor into the 2023 championship on his execrable Honda. Nor will Fabio on his equally bad Yamaha. At the end of the day–who doesn’t hate that phrase?–the championship top ten looks like this. Bagnaia has thrown away 45 points in the last two rounds, making the chase look more competitive than it really is. Vinales had another terrible start before climbing back into P4 at the finish. And anyone who doesn’t have Ducati as their choice for the constructor in Fantasy MotoGP is dreaming.

Two weeks until the flying circus arrives in Europe, at Jerez, when things start to get real. Let’s hope that today’s MotoGP spectacle doesn’t get repeated. Personally, I may shift my attention to the undercards where there is real competition and not every rider scores points.

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12 Responses to “MotoGP 2023 – COTA, Round 3”

  1. Starmag Says:

    It’s the double confusing curse of the Alexes for Antman. One is getting great results on last year’s Duc and the other podiums with last year’s Honda.

    The clock is ticking louder and louder.

    I wonder If Antman is sitting at home with this Clash classic running through his head:

    Which could apply to Honda or his career.

    Chances are still good that Baggy stops crashing enough to take it all. He’s currently defining the term, “Win it or bin it.”

    I note that Yamaha promised El Diablo more power this year for his factory ride and yet Luca walked by on a satellite Duc with ease. He shouldn’t have taken that nickname if he didn’t want to end up in MotoGP hell.

    Thanks for the notes Buzz!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Buzz Says:

    Today (race day) was much different than yesterday. We got to the track with the wind blowing and temps in the low 60s. For Moto 3 and Moto 2 the wind was blowing from Turn 1 down toward the far end of the track. The back straight riders were heading into the wind.

    By the time MotoGP was up, the temps had warmed about 10 degrees but the wind had totally done a 180. Would this be the reason the riders were crashing? The wind was now blowing from the far end of the track toward Turn 1. There was a massive tail wind down the back straight and the announcer said Maverick hit 220 mph at one point.

    As we had discussed in an earlier thread, attendance was down which explains all the 2 for 1 general admission deals. The economy and Bidenflation led to large swaths of empty grandstands. It made getting in and out of the track quite easy but I’m sure those in power would rather see a full house.

    You know inflation is bad when people from London… yes LONDON were complaining about how expensive things are in Austin.

    I’ll return next year. I just wish Texas weather could be normal for at least one day.


  3. Bruce Allen Says:

    Thanks, Buzz. Nice work.


  4. Buzz Says:

    I’m still chasing Vroom in the fantasy. My Silver riders were Jorge Martin and Alex Marquez and we all know how that turned out.


  5. Vrooom Says:

    To be fair, if there weren’t 9 riders out of the race not every rider would have scored, instead there were only 13 finishers. Rins was an animal on that Honda, I think they picked the wrong factory rider. What was up in Moto 2 with 7 bikes stopping/stalling on track in practice? Not as much bitching about the bumps on track this year, though you could see there still are some.


  6. Old MOron Says:

    Moto3 was fantastic. Moto2 was a worthy follow-up. MotoGP was just as you said, terrible. So much crashing. And yet it was so much fun cheering for Alex Rins. And how we howled when Marini sailed past poor Fabio on the straight. Seriously, he came from about ten bike lengths behind to about ten bike lengths in front. The Ducati is crazy fast. I’m very interested to see if the Yam will fare better at the Euro tracks.

    I wonder about the Honda. They scooped up Ken Kawauchi from Suzuki’s defunct team. Is it mere coincidence that one of the former Suzuki riders is doing pretty okay?


  7. Allison Sullivan Says:

    Well, COTA’s good for one thing at least. Pretty much everyone on the grid will have new plastics by the time they get back to the motherland.

    The main MotoGP race wasn’t anything to write home about. I was happy on Saturday that muh boi Jorge managed to keep the bike right side up and score some points, only to play skittles two turns in on Sunday, and then be followed by half the field. Gotta give Alex Rins props for both days – he likes COTA almost as much as Marc Marquez, and he rode the wheels off that Honda. Pecco’s gravel facial, and Bez having a quiet weekend, have made things very interesting indeed heading back to Spain.

    I didn’t see the Moto3 race, but Moto2 was epic. That’s been a yawnfest for years, but throwing Pedro and Tony into the mix has certainly livened it up. Plus I love the Moto2 bikes, they sound amazing, it’s nice to have an excuse to watch that class again.

    I thought the Toprak rumors might have lit a fire under Frankie Morbidelli’s leathers after last weekend, but alas, my favorite Brazilian was back to mediocrity this week. I hope he has an alternative career, because I suspect he’ll be needing it by mid season.


  8. dmensch Says:

    Can’t see a way to post pix here- I have a screenshot of Zarco on the grid with one of his (male) crew performing umbrella duty.


  9. Old MOron Says:

    I’ve always liked Rins, and I’ve always disliked HRC.
    I hope he continues to succeed, and I hope the rest of HRC’s pilots continue to trundle about the lower half of the standings.


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