DOMINATES IN THE US: Honda rider Marc Marquez, the reigning world champion, has won all four MotoGP events contested at the Circuit of Americas. Image: AFP / Juan Mabromata
Washington - Marc Marquez races for his fifth consecutive Moto Grand Prix of the Americas title this weekend after crashing out earlier in April at Argentina, where Maverick Vinales padded his season-points lead.
The Spanish stars and Italy's Valentino Rossi, who has a checkered history at the Austin, Texas, layout, lead the field into the third race of the season, Yamaha rider Vinales having won the openers at Qatar and Argentina.
Unbeaten in the US
Honda rider Marquez, the reigning world champion, has won all four MotoGP events contested at the 5.5km, 20-turn circuit, each time doing so from the pole. He was also on the pole in Argentina but crashed out in the fourth lap and sits eighth in the points chase.
Marquez said: "After the Argentina race, I'm happy to go to a track I love as much as Austin, although of course I would have preferred to arrive there in a better position.
"We will give 100% to try to get our first podium this season. I have great memories of Austin, and for me it's one of the best venues on the race calendar. I like the layout of the track, as it has many different types of sections and corners and lots of elevation changes."
But Vinales has a victory of his own in Texas in the 2014 Moto2 race and just missed the podium last year riding for Suzuki.
Vinales said: "I won my first race here in Moto2. I've always been very strong here, I also did one of my best results in America the last year, so I think it's a good track for my riding style.
"I love the up and down track, with lots of elevation, so I'm so excited to see how my M1 will work here and how I'm going to feel riding the Yamaha. I'm confident and I know that I can do another good race weekend."
Vinales has 50 points in the standings to 36 for Rossi, who has a hard-luck history in Texas. The worst was last year when he started third on the grid but crashed on on the second lap.
Rossi said: "I have an account to settle with this track because last year in the warm-up I made a big step for a strong race but unfortunately I made a mistake, this year I want to try to have a good race."
Rossi was third behind his Yamaha teammate in Qatar, second in Argentina and is hopeful for a breakthrough in Austin.
The Italian rider said: "We have much work to do, but I'm confident in my bike and in my team."
World motorcycling championship standings ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix of the Americas at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, the third round of the 2017 tournament:
1. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 50 pts
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) 36
3. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 20
4. Scott Redding (GBR/Ducati) 17
5. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Honda) 16
6. Jonas Folger (GER/Yamaha Tech3) 16
7. Jack Miller (AUS/Honda) 15
8. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 13
9. Alvaro Bautista (ESP/Ducati) 13
10. Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) 11
1. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Kalex) 50 pts
2. Thomas Lthi (SUI/Kalex) 36 pts
3. Miguel Oliveira (POR/KTM) 33
4. Lorenzo Baldassari (ITA/Kalex) 21
5. Xavi Vierge (ESP/Tech3) 18
1. Joan Mir (ESP/Honda) 50 pts
2. John McPhee (GBR/Honda) 40
3. Jorge Martin (ESP/Honda) 32
4. Andrea Migno (ITA/KTM) 21
5. Romano Fenati (ITA/Honda) 20