AUSTIN: Marc Marquez returns to one of his favourite hunting grounds this weekend, the MotoGP world champion intent on extending his perfect record at the Grand Prix of the Americas to seven from seven.
The Spaniard has won at Austin from pole every year since its arrival on the calendar in 2013.
He turns up for Sunday’s race after a crushing 10-second success over arch-rival Valentino Rossi in Argentina.
That “perfect day” at Termas de Rio Hondo pushed Marquez up to the head of the championship standings with a four-point lead over Andrea Dovizioso before this third leg of the season.
Marquez, chasing a sixth world title in the elite division, is relishing the chance of another Texas triumph.
Austin “is one of my favourite tracks”, he told his Honda team’s website.
“These counter-clockwise circuits always seem to suit my style the best.”
But he was wary of not allowing his accomplishments in Austin to lead to any complacency.
“Although we have achieved a lot of success here in the past, we will work as we always do from free practice one and remain focused.
“Every year when you go to a track there are new things to understand and adapt to.”
Dovizioso has a best place runner-up finish to his name in 2015.
“Our aim is to once again be on the podium which would be almost like a win,” said Ducati’s Italian rider who was victorious in Qatar, adding the circuit “is not the best for us”.
Marquez’s new teammate, three-time former world champion Jorge Lorenzo, has had a tricky time of it since switching from Ducati.
Lorenzo fractured his rib in practice at the season-opening race in Qatar, before trailing in 12th in Argentina.
Despite his marriage to Honda getting off to a bumpy start, Lorenzo predicts a rosier future for the relationship.
“After the disappointment in Argentina I am ready to get back out on track and ride again.
“The result didn’t show it, but we made good progress last time and we are understanding the bike more and more.
“When the conditions offer grip, I feel very strong on the Honda –- the team and I just need more time riding to understand how to have this strong feeling when the grip is less.”
Yamaha’s evergreen 40-year-old Rossi is basking from his podium in Argentina when he burst past Dovizioso on the final circuit to snatch second.
“Tricky, difficult and technical” is how the heavily-decorated motorcycling veteran describes Austin.
He said the aim was to “work well, ride well, follow the right direction, and then we’ll see”.
Teammate Maverick Vinales says he is in “good physical condition” after his crash in Argentina.
“Luckily, I didn’t hurt myself,” he added after he was bumped from behind by fellow Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli on the last lap.