Vomit crash, squeeze crash – Marquez’s COTA nightmare
Though Marc Marquez was absent and unable to add to his remarkable MotoGP record at the Circuit of the Americas, there were moments during the weekend where it didn’t look unfeasible that the Austin crowd may see another chapter of Marquez glory after all – with his younger brother Alex on great form.
Though the younger Marquez had taken pole at Termas de Rio Hondo, that was on slicks on a drying track. In terms of pure slick-tyre, normal-conditions pace, he did look marginally stronger at COTA than at the previous two venues. Coming into the sprint, Pecco Bagnaia even highlighted him as the threat to watch out for.
Instead, he took home zero points from the weekend.
Slow off the line in the sprint, Marquez had recovered to run fifth at the halfway point. Given Jorge Martin was struggling with his stamina just up the road, having felt the after-effects of a nasty illness for most of the weekend, and given an Aleix Espargaro error was still to come, Marquez really should’ve bagged a sprint podium.
Alas, he threw up in his helmet in the heavy braking zone at the end of the back straight and consequently chucked the bike down the road, throwing up again – this time, it seems, deliberately – once back in the paddock.
“Still I’m a little bit sick from the stomach side and all this. Maybe I have some virus or something like that. But I’m quite OK,” was his post-weekend assessment.
Sunday was more galling, with a big points day gone to waste.
Marquez had been sluggish off the line again, but was compromised more by Marco Bezzecchi entering Turn 1 with an almost-perpendicular line, forcing Marquez to scrub off all his corner speed.
Still, he was an acceptable ninth coming through Turn 9, only to be collected by a Martin fall. It was a nasty incident, Marquez briefly getting trapped between the two Ducatis as they slid through the run-off, and only getting separated from his Gresini-run Ducati GP22 once they’d arrived to the grass on the outside – which was then close enough to the wall for Marquez to hit it and bounce off.
@88jorgemartin‘s early mistake sent @alexmarquez73 to the gravel!
Just three corners after lights out the @pramacracing rider crashed and unfortunately collected his Ducati fellow! #AmericasGP pic.twitter.com/zsIbZwcsdx
— MotoGP (@MotoGP) April 17, 2023
The TV cameras captured a quite telling aftermath, with Marquez briefly standing up on his knees and raising his arms to express his displeasure at Martin, before instantly falling back down and curdling in pain.
He went to the medical centre and had an x-ray done on his right knee, but was cleared of any fractures.
“My leg was between both bikes. It was difficult, I went until the wall and I touched also with the wall… it was not an easy crash.
“I’m angry because we lost many points today. It was a good opportunity.”
Of Martin’s Turn 3 fall that eliminated them both from the race, Marquez said: “He did for me a clear mistake that I saw from behind. He had like contact or something happened from Turn 2, he was already on the outside, and he tried to recover what he lost on Turn 3, which we know, all the riders, that it’s so tricky.
“But he was coming from the dirty side, putting on a lot of lean angle. And he touched the brake. It’s physics. If you touch the brake in that angle, you will crash, more in the first lap when the front tyre is not in the right moment [temperature-wise].”
Martin’s version of events didn’t really differ, although unlike Marquez he felt it was “difficult to say what happened”.
“Maybe the tyre wasn’t ready,” he acknowledged. “A place where I usually don’t crash, I had this strange crash.”
Martin being furthest to the outside kerb exiting Turn 2 of any rider in the pack was a result of him being briefly three-wide in the corner with Aleix Espargaro in the middle and Fabio Quartararo on the inside.
“Aleix was wide into corner 2 and I was on the outside so I went really on the outside. And as soon as I closed on 3, I lost the front.
“Maybe for sure being out of the line, but I had nowhere to go. It’s a pity because I felt super strong, but s**t happens.”
And though Marquez felt Martin had made a clear mistake, he was in a forgiving mood – mindful also of his own errors, like when he’d wiped out Jack Miller at Phillip Island late last year.
“It’s something that can happen to me tomorrow, that was happening in the past, happens in the present, will happen in the future,” he said.
“For me it’s clear what happened. I accept his sorry and that’s it. For me it’s a closed thing. It’s racing, and that’s it.”
The outcome of the weekend rankled, however. Marquez is eighth in the championship with 33 points but, remarkably, had he avoided his Saturday and Sunday misfortunes, he would’ve been in the mix for the championship lead.
“You know, it’s a little bit strange, to have the best performance of the season here and get zero points – and in Portimao and Argentina, [where] we were not really good, we were able to catch many points. But it’s racing, sometimes it can happen.”