One keen motorcycle industry analyst in Austin for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas said the competition in MotoGP has never been better.
“This is the golden age,” said Mark Hoyer, editor-in-chief of Cycle World magazine. “There is excellent parity in equipment; teams are using different techniques and offer different qualities.
“There is more variety than ever. You’ve got the Maverick Viñales vs. Marc Márquez duel, and new names surfacing. We had nine different winners last year, and that’s healthy for the sport.”
It’s in the genes: Friday at Circuit of the Americas, there was a ceremony for Kenny Roberts Jr., who was inducted as the 25th member of the MotoGP World Championship Hall of Fame. He and his father, who was on hand, are the only father-son combination who’ve won a season title in the top tier of the sport.
Roberts said when his son got the urge to race, he gave him a piece of fatherly advice.
“You’ll never be as good as me,” cautioned Roberts Sr., who won three world championships. “If you can accept you’ll never be as good as me, I’ll let you go racing.”
Roberts Jr. won his world title in 2000.
Change of pace: In a brief run during practice, Red Bull KTM tried out a new aerodynamic package off a design by rider Pol Espargaro, but the team still lagged. Espargaro and teammate Bradley Smith were 21st and 23rd — last among all riders — in the morning session and 20th and 23rd in the afternoon jaunt.
Watch out: If you gain access to the paddock area this weekend, keep your head on a swivel. The long, thin stretch between the team garages and their tents is sometimes navigated by people running errands on scooters and small motorcycles. At least one rider spotted in the paddock area Friday, Kenny Roberts Sr. holds the distinction of being a former world champion. The others, not so much.
Great Brit: England’s Scott Redding, on a Ducati for Octo Pramac Racing, is one of just nine riders who has scored points in the first two races of this MotoGP season. He’s fourth in the overall standings, making him the highest-ranking independent team rider.
Cooler temps: Friday’s high was a muggy 88, but Saturday and Sunday promise to be gorgeous for fans. A cold front will bring north winds, low humidity and a high of 69 for qualifying Saturday. The race day forecast calls for 76 and sunny. The only hang-up? Winds in the 15- to 18-mph range Saturday could mess with riders.