The season opener has created much buzz and anticipation ahead of the new race on the calendar, with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo no doubt one of the favourites after his dominant display in in race one.
He will however face a stiff challenge from team-mate Valentino Rossi, who looked close to his old self as he carved his way through the field in Qatar, as well as Repsol Honda Team rookie Marc Márquez, whose terrific performance led to a podium in his first ever MotoGP™ race.
His team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who struggled with rear grip issues last time out, will nonetheless remain one of the biggest threats at the new circuit.
Both Factory Yamaha and Repsol Honda riders, as well as LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, will line-up for the first practice on Friday with a slight advantage, as the five riders have completed a three-day private test at the track, which is the fourth circuit in the USA to ever host motorcycle Grand Prix racing.
Bradl in particular will hope to benefit from this experience, as he looks to bounce back from a crash in the opening round. His satellite Honda counterpart, GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, will have fully recovered from his niggling finger injury, and will no doubt be looking to mix it up at the sharp end.
All will face stiff competition from Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, who was very impressive in qualifying last time out yet couldn’t quite match the performance in the race.
Meanwhile his rookie team-mate Bradley Smith will aim to finish his first ever MotoGP race, following a crash in round one.
The Ducati Team showed promising signs in the first race, especially with Andrea Dovizioso’s qualifying performance, and will hope to build on that at the new track.
Nicky Hayden will receive a boost from his home crowd, as will his Ignite Pramac Racing counterpart Ben Spies, who himself hails from Texas.
Still struggling from a shoulder injury, Spies will be hoping to suffer less pain as he looks to put on a show for his fans, alongside rookie team-mate Andrea Iannone on the Energy T.I. Pramac machine.
Also soaking up the local atmosphere will be NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards, the ‘Texas Tornado’, as he looks to squeeze the most out of his new FTR-Kawasaki package with team-mate Claudio Corti.
Yet the CRT favourite will once again be Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró, who was on tremendous form in Qatar as he stormed into Q2 and ended as top CRT.
His team-mate Randy de Puniet will be hoping to challenge for that honour at the new circuit, whilst the other CRTs vying for a place in Texas’ Parc Fermé will be Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, PBM’s Yonny Hernandez and Michael Laverty, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci and Lukas Pesek, GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Bryan Staring, as well as Avintia Blusens’ Héctor Barberá and Hiroshi Aoyama.
The race will also see the inclusion of two wildcards in the form of Attack Performance Racing’s Blake Young, on the Kawasaki-powered in-house APR chassis, and GPTech’s Mike Barnes on a Suzuki-powered BCL chassis.