Preview: GP of the Americas

Texas welcomes the MotoGP paddock this weekend for what is sure to be an intriguing few days of motorbike action.

Following Valentino Rossi’s shock win in Qatar Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa revealed he was contemplating his future in the sport after a recurring arm pump issue had resurfaced during the opening race of the season.

After much speculation over Pedrosa’s imminent retirement from motorbike racing the Spaniard underwent career saving surgery in Madrid and looks set to return to MotoGP after a short break from the sport.

Honda test rider Hiroshi Aoyama will take Pedrosa’s seat at this weekend’s race in Austin after rumours of a phenomenal return to MotoGP could be on the cards for two-time world champion Casey Stoner, but alas it wasn’t to be.

Rossi enters the weekend at the top on the standings after a sensational performance under the lights in Qatar led him to an impressive victory ahead of Ducati pair of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone.

Rossi has previously struggled in Texas and the Italian will be hoping for at least a rostrum finish this weekend to keep the momentum going after a brilliant start to the season.

Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo will also want to show he is a contender this year with a better outing from his team after struggling to fourth position first time out due to an issue with the lining inside his helmet restricting his vision towards the end of the race.

Ducati will of course want to build on a fantastic performance at the Losail circuit but now have further restrictions to work with after it was announced their fuel allowance has been reduced from 24 litres to 22 come race day in wake of their success in Qatar.

Dovizioso, after a stunning pole position in Qatar, will be hoping to go one better in the race this weekend and grab maximum points after the Italian looked like a reinvigorated figure on board the GP-15 during the opening weekend.

Reigning world champion Marc Marquez had a fairly forgettable opening race after making a huge mistake at the first turn which led him off track, but the Spaniard fought back to an impressive fifth position from last place to pick up 11 points which could prove vital come the end of the season.

Marquez faces possibly the toughest defence of his crown this season and must put on a better performance this weekend to stop the creeping doubts from looming and after fellow rider Alvaro Bautista accused the 22-year-old of being too aggressive as he made his way through the pack at Qatar all eyes will be glued to the Spaniard’s Honda to see how he can respond after a disappointing opening weekend.

Further down the field former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden celebrates his 200th race in the class this weekend in his homeland of America.

This Sunday’s race in Texas is difficult to predict which makes it all the more interesting. Marquez needs to produce a much stronger performance than what the paddock saw in Qatar and if the two-time Moto GP champion is rattled by the competition this season it will certainly show once again in Austin.

Joe Urquhart

Twitter: @JoeUrq24