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Aussie watch ahead of the 2024 Americas MotoGP™

Matt Clayton
Thursday, 11 April 2024

After two weekends without racing, MotoGP™ returns with a full-throttle assault in Austin, with Jack Miller keen to keep the arrow pointing upwards and a new frontier to explore for a pair of his compatriots.

Bigger in Texas? Jack Miller and the rest of the Aussie riders in action in Austin for this weekend’s Americas Motorcycle Grand Prix (April 12-14) will be hoping so, with the factory KTM MotoGP™ rider coming to round three of the season after an unplanned extra weekend off when the Argentina event set for last weekend was cancelled, and off a pair of top-five showings in Portugal.

Miller’s compatriots Senna Agius (Moto2™) and Jacob Roulstone (Moto3™) will have a new track to contend with at the undulating Circuit of the Americas this weekend, while MotoGP™ championship leader Jorge Martin has a score to settle with COTA after lasting all of three corners last year, eliminated in a clash with Ducati stablemate Alex Marquez.

The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2024 returns to Phillip Island on October 18-20, 2024. Register your interest for all the latest ticket information.

In the premier class, all eyes will be on Alex’s brother Marc Marquez to see if he can regain his crown as the ‘King of COTA’, while Yamaha’s Alex Rins returns as the most recent – and unlikely – victor in Texas, the high point of his injury-ravaged run at Honda last year.

Here’s three talking points to consider – to go along with an early breakfast for local fans – next Monday morning.

Miller on the move

It’s hard to not be impressed with what GasGas rookie Pedro Acosta has done in his first two MotoGP™ races. And it’s hard not to wonder what Acosta’s ascension means for Miller, given the Spanish teenager surely has eyes on the out-of-contract Australian’s factory KTM ride before much longer.

Miller’s early crash in the Qatar season-opener made for a rough start to 2024, but his response in Portugal – fifth in the Sprint and the Grand Prix proper – was a step in the right direction. Yes, he was beaten by Acosta and teammate Brad Binder in the 25-lap main race, but a healthy haul of points quietened down some paddock chatter ahead of this weekend.

Austin has been ace for the 29-year-old in the past – he has a pair of third-place finishes (2019, 2022) on his COTA CV – while the typically bumpy nature of the frequently-used track tends to bother him less than plenty of his rivals. A third Texas podium is an ambitious goal, but of the tracks coming up in the short-term, this is one he’ll have earmarked as one where he can push forwards.

Kelso confident, COTA rookies ready

Joel Kelso has never had world championship momentum and form like this. The Aussie Moto3™ rider bagged two top-eight results from Qatar and Portugal to head into the round in Texas sixth in the championship, and his off-season move to BOE Motorsports has seen the 20-year-old take a step up as he prepares to tackle a track he missed last year with injury.

Roulstone, on bike number 12 for the Red Bull KTM GasGas Tech3 team, sits 12th in the standings with 11 points coming into COTA and is second among rookies, Spain’s Joel Esteban two points and two places ahead. The 19-year-old has kept his head down and his eyes open so far – team boss Herve Poncharal says Roulstone “does not talk much, but acts on track” – and maintaining position in the early frantic stages of races will be a box to tick over 14 laps on Sunday.

Agius, meanwhile, will approach his maiden intermediate-class outing in Austin with renewed ambition after points for the Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP team in Portugal last time out, where he finished 14th and 16secs from the win. It was the closest to the leader Agius has ever finished in Moto2™, even after serving a long-lap penalty at Portimao.

The Marquez answer we’ve been waiting for

When Marc Marquez announced he was leaving Repsol Honda for Gresini Ducati, two circuits – the Sachsenring in Germany and COTA this weekend – immediately came to mind. The 31-year-old has been near-on unbeatable at both, but it’s in Texas where his star first burst into MotoGP™ view – and it’s barely dimmed since.

A winner in Austin on his second premier-class start in 2013 – and you thought Acosta’s first two races were good – was the first of six in a row at COTA, a streak snapped by crashing from a big lead in 2019. The 2020 race was cancelled due to COVID, and he won in 2021 while nowhere near full fitness. Last year, he missed the race altogether after fracturing his right hand in the Portugal season-opener.

For all of those wins, there’s two other COTA moments that stand out more than most. One was in qualifying in 2015, when his bike broke down as the end of Q2 loomed, prompting a full sprint to the pits to get on his second bike before unleashing an insane lap that took pole by three-tenths of a second. The other was 2022, where a technical problem off the grid saw him drop to a distant last before he overtook 18 rivals to get back to sixth.

Can the eight-time world champion make it eight wins in Texas on a one-year-old satellite Ducati? Factory Ducati rider (and 2022 COTA winner) Enea Bastianini wouldn’t be surprised. “I know we will have a problem with Marc because he’s really fast on this track,” the Italian said. Stay tuned…

Americas MotoGP™ fast facts
Circuit name/location: Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas
Length/laps: 5.51km, 20 laps (MotoGP™), 16 laps (Moto2™), 14 laps (Moto3™)
Grands Prix held/debut: 10, 2013
Most successful rider: Marc Marquez (seven wins)
2023 podium 1st: Alex Rins (Honda), 2nd: Luca Marini (Ducati), 3rd: Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha)

The 2024 Americas Motorcycle Grand Prix will be available to watch live on Foxtel and Kayo. See our What time does the 2024 Americas MotoGP™ start for Australians? article for timings.