Italy is 2 for 2 so far on MotoGP day at COTA

Franco Morbidelli. CREDIT: Honda Racing

Franco Morbidelli kept us his perfect season on the Moto2 scene, winning the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas race in Austin on Sunday for his third victory in 2017.

Italian riders won both races before MotoGP at Circuit of the Americas as Romano Fenati took the Moto3 race. Both Morbidelli and Fenati won by wide margins.

“Yes, a great day for Italy,” Morbidelli told the American-Statesman.

Valentino Rossi will attempt to make it an Italian sweep in the MotoGP race later Sunday.

Morbidelli, who rides a Kalex for the EG 0,0 Marc VDS, won by 2.6 seconds over Thomas Luthi, a Swiss rider, and by 6.8 seconds over Takaaki  Nakagami of Japan.

“I love coming to Austin,” Morbidelli said. “Enjoy the city and the track. I want to keep coming back here.”

Asked if he was nearly unbeatable on the Moto2 circuit, Morbidelli shook off the question.

“There are many riders who can gain on me,” he said. “I have to keep beating them as long as I can before they start beating me.”

Italy’s Romano Fenati easily wins Moto3 race at COTA

The Checkered flag during the qualifying for the Grand Prix of the Americas MotoGP motorcycle race, Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Austin, Texas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Italy’s Romano Fenati roared away from all his competitors to win the Moto3 race Sunday in Austin at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas.

Fenati, who qualified sixth for the Marinelli Rivacold Snipers team, won by 4.5 seconds, a relative landslide, at Circuit of the Americas. His time was 27 minutes, 15.841 seconds for 12 laps over the 3.4-mile road circuit.

Honda owned the podium. Teammates Jorge Martin and Fabio Di Giannantonio of Del Conca Gresini finished second and third, respectively.

Pole sitter Aron Canet, a 17-year-old from Spain, pushed himself past the limit when pressured by Fenati and crashed out.

Thai rookie Nakarin Atiratphuvapat made the save of the race. He lost control of the bike but somehow managed to slide back into the seat as he was falling. Atiratphuvapat finished 24th in a pack of 32.

Crash-filled session mars MotoGP practice 3 at COTA

FAR RIGHT: (93) Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda Team finished in 2nd place with a time of 2’05.500 in 15 laps and topping a speed of 332.4 on the track. (19) Karel Abraham tries to get position during the open practice for the Grand Prix of the Americas MotoGP motorcycle race, Friday, April 21, 2017, in Austin, Texas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Maverick Vinales posted the fastest lap of the weekend, but Saturday morning’s practice session for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas was captivating for all the crashes.

Nine riders tumbled onto the track at Circuit of the Americas on a chilly morning after a cold front passed through Austin and kicked up north winds. The track was not wet but might have been a bit damp from some early-morning drizzle.

Many riders on Friday said COTA was bumpier than they ever remembered it, though it was unclear if or how much that factored into the Saturday mayhem.

Marc Marquez, who has won all four MotoGP races at Circuit of the Americas, crashed twice on his Repsol Honda. Shocking, really, considering the way he has owned this track.

Vinales, who has won the first two races of 2017, didn’t appear to have problems. He hung up a 2:03.979, the best for anyone in the three practices so far.

There is a fourth practice this afternoon immediately preceding qualifying.

Dani Pedrosa, Marquez’s Repsol Honda teammate, posted the second-fastest time in practice 3 with a 2:04.296.

Cal Crutchlow of LCR Honda was third at 2:04.677, followed by Marquez and Scott Redding.

Other riders who crashed include Aleix Espargaro, who fell twice off his Red Bull KTM, Jorge Lorenzo of Ducati Team, Andrea Iannone of Suzuki Ecstar, Alex Rins of Suzuki Ecstar and Sam Lowes of Aprilia Gresini.

Rins, a 21-year-old Spaniard, reportedly has a fractured left wrist and has been ruled out for race.

Injuries to other riders did not appear to be serious, although there were several nasty falls.

For more coverage:

Staff photos of Friday’s practices

MotoGP by the numbers: a video

Revised COTA MotoGP Red Bull Grand Prix of Americas schedule

Mathew Orange of Maximum Effort Racing team races during the Motul Superbike and Supersport 1000 practice at the Circuit of the Americas on Thursday, April 20, 2017. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

RED BULL OF THE AMERICAS WEEKEND SCHEDULE

at Circuit of the Americas

Tickets: Three-day general admission, $89. Three-day premium grandstands, $139-$199. Single-day general admission tickets, $39 Friday, $49 Saturday, $59 Sunday. Single-day main grandstand, $59 Friday, $79 Saturday, $99 Sunday.

FRIDAY

9-9:40 a.m. — Moto3, free practice 1

9:55-10:40 a.m. — MotoGP, free practice 1

10:55-11:40 a.m. — Moto2, free practice 1

11:55 a.m.-12:25 p.m. — Superbike, qualifying

12:30 — MotoGP legend ceremony

1:10-1:50 p.m. — Moto2, free practice 2

2:05-2:50 p.m. — MotoGP, free practice 2

3:05-3:50 p.m. — Moto3, free practice 2

4:05-4:45 p.m. — Supersport, qualifying

5-5:15 p.m. — Superbike, pole qualifying

6:50-7:50 — Motorcycle parade laps


SATURDAY

7:30-7:50 a.m. — Supersport, warm up

8-8:20 a.m. — Superbike, warmup

9-9:40 a.m. — Moto3, free practice 3

9:55-10:40 a.m. — MotoGP, free practice 3

10:55-11:40 a.m. — Moto2, free practice 3

12:35-1:15 p.m. — Moto3, qualifying

1:30-2 p.m. — MotoGP, free practice 4

2:10-2:25 p.m. — MotoGP, qualifying 1

2:35-2:50 p.m. — MotoGP, qualifying 2

3:05-3:50 p.m. — Moto2, qualifying

4:15 p.m. — Supersport, race (12 laps)

5 p.m. — Superbike, race (15 laps)

6-6:50 p.m. — BMW M laps


SUNDAY

7:30-7:50 a.m. — Superbike, warmup

8:40-9 a.m. — Moto3, warmup

9:10-9:30 a.m. — Moto2, warmup

9:40-10 a.m. — MotoGP, warmup

10:15-10:35 — MotoGP, riders parade

11 a.m. — Moto3, race (18 laps)

12:20 p.m. — Moto2, race (19 laps)

2 p.m. — MotoGP, race (21 laps)

3:45 p.m. — Superbike, race 2 (15 laps)

COTA MotoGP 1st practice: Maverick gets jump on Marquez

Maverick Viñales of Team Suzuki Ecstar riding in a free practice at the 2016 Moto GP Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas at the Circuit of the Americas. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Marc Marquez owns Circuit of the Americas, but the Spanish rider wasn’t the fastest in the first free practice Friday morning for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas.

Maverick Vinales, who has won both races in 2017 for the Movistar Yamaha team, posted a 2:04.923 time for a fast lap in the early session, a half second faster than Marquez, who has won all four MotoGP events at COTA.

Marquez, who rides for Honda, had a 2:05.500 best lap.

Vinales’ speed topped out at 205.736 mph.

Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati was third quickest, followed by Johann Zarco of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 and Alvaro Bautista of Pull&Bear Aspar Aprilia.

Bautista posted the top speed over any portion of the track, flying at 209.309 mph.