Reigning world champion Marc Marquez has won every MotoGP race in America dating back to when the event was held at Laguna Seca Raceway in California. He’s been hugely successful at COTA since his first laps there. Additionally, as seen in Argentina, Marquez is in full gunfighter mode right now.
All of that means a great deal and means not a lot if Marquez has a bad weekend in Texas. Nobody is unbeatable if fate plays them a bad hand. The safe bet is on Marquez for the win at Austin, and the perhaps the only person who can beat Marquez is Marquez. Unless it’s Lorenzo. What?!
His teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, hasn’t done much in 2019 on the Honda. I guess he has some kind of sore toe or a sore rib or a bug on his face-shield (no, wait that was a few years back) and he needs more time to acclimate to the Honda. So, there will be plenty of crop from Lorenzo’s excuse farm if he needs it at COTA.
The thing is, COTA might be one of the tracks where Lorenzo has a legitimate shot of success on the Honda. Think about it: Dani Pedrosa went pretty well at times at COTA and he was able to lap very fast on the motorcycle that Lorenzo now sits on. Pedrosa’s Garanimal-sized trousers and “small hands” didn’t really allow him to pull the same level of performance as Marquez from the Honda but obliviously Lorenzo does not have that problem. Physically he is the same size as Marquez. He also has access to, at least, Marquez’s 2018 set up and chassis data so a lot of issues that Pedrosa had on the Honda should not be valid with Lorenzo. He could do very well at CoTA.
Is it a leap of faith to suggest Lorenzo might do well at COTA? Yes, as big as Texas itself. The problem is that thus far Lorenzo isn’t riding the Honda in the same way that Marquez and others do. This was illustrated in helicopter video shot during one of the practices at Termas de Rio Hondo, in Argentina: Marquez, Crutchlow and Nakagami were lapping fast by shooting the Honda like a gun out of the corners. At the same time and in the same session, Lorenzo, meanwhile, seemed to be riding in his precise, swooping ex-250 rider style he’s always used which does not have anything like the corner exit trajectory vector of the other three Honda riders. He was dropped like a rock.
Enviably, Lorenzo has all of the same tools that Marquez has at CoTA. He also can see by a brief look at Marquez’s data what needs to be done and how the bike needs to be ridden to lap fast at CoTA. But can he do it?
CoTA is a big test for Jorge Lorenzo. On Sunday we all get to see what he can do on the same motorcycle as Marquez at a Marquez track.