Alex Rins held his nerve to take his first victory in Grand Prix racing at the Circuit of the Americas, beating Maverick Vinales and Luis Salom in a shortened five lap dash. The original race was red flagged half a lap short of two third’s distance following a horrible crash for Jasper Iwema but despite the uncertainty, the top three would be in exactly the same order when the chequered flag came out for real.
The trio of Spaniards had dominated all afternoon and were over 20 seconds clear of fourth placed Jonas Folger but the accident involving Iwema changed everything with the Dutchman being thrown from his motorcycle and being stretchered from the scene. Race direction had no choice but to stop the race while he was helped away and after initially celebrating victory believing a result would be declared, Rins had to refocus on a five lap race which he’d start from pole position.
The lead would change hands immediately with Salom steaming up the inside into turn one and the championship leader was clearly intent on scampering clear into an unassailable lead given the shortness of the race. Rins was wise to that tactic though and quickly reeled his compatriot in and a terrific move into turn nineteen would see him regain the advantage at the end of lap two.
After shadowing Rins throughout the aborted race, Vinales should have been right in the thick of the action but the Team Calvo rider outbraked himself into turn eleven on the opening lap, dropping him out of the top six. Maverick’s response was outstanding though as he scythed through the pack to climb back into third on the second lap but it would take him until the start of the final lap before he was in position to challenge the leaders.
Instead of worrying about the growing threat from behind, Salom went on the attack and grabbed the lead from Rins at turn one but the Estrella Galicia rider outdragged him to regain the lead at turn twelve, forcing Salom into a desperate lunge in an attempt to secure victory. That move came at the very last corner and although he reached the apex first, Salom went sailing past it and both Rins and Vinales took advantage, the former claiming his first win with Vinales second as he was in Qatar.
Jonas Folger stayed in touch but fourth was the best he could manage while Miguel Oliveira was the big winner through the restart, beating Jack Miller to fifth in the end. Zulfahmi Khairuddin was seventh ahead of Alexis Masbou and Brad Binder with Jakub Kornfeil pipping Danny Webb to the last place in the top ten. John McPhee’s weekend of pain didn’t bring the relief of points with the Scotsman 21st on his hastily rebuilt FTR-Honda.