Hector Barbera, of Spain, rides through the garage during open practice for the Grand Prix of the Americas MotoGP race Friday in Austin.

Tony Gutierrez | AP

AUSTIN — It’s 1:25 p.m. on Sunday at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas. The Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas begins in 35 minutes. 

David De Gea, of Avintia Racing, the assistant coordinator for two of the premier motorcycle riders in the world, Spain’s Hector Barbera and Mike Di Meglio, of France, finishes up a talk with a crew member.

Barbera is slated to start in the sixth row (No. 18 position), Di Meglio is in Row No. 8 (23rd).

“We’re in a difficult position today,” says De Gea. “Everybody is very similar and where you start is key. In the first race this year (Qatar, March 23), Hector’s bike broke in the first lap and he wasn’t able to continue. For Mike, this is a difficult situation because he was racing in Moto2 and now he’s up in the premier class.”

The pervasive buzz in the pits is that winning this race will be

difficult for anyone not named Marc Marquez.

“Marc is the youngest and his bike is the best,” De Gea said. “And, right now, there’s a big gap between him and everyone else.

“If Hector Barbera finishes in the top 15 that would be good and if Mike ends up in the top 20, that would be good for him.”

(Ultimately, Barbera finished the race in 15th place while Di Meglio ended up at No. 18.)

At 1:30 p.m., Robby Van Dijck, a crew member of American Nicky Hayden, says, “I think Nicky can run a good race. He needs to get a little lucky on his start.”

Hayden qualified to start the race in the fifth row, the 14th spot.

“Nicky will have to push hard,” Van Dijck says. “Marc Marquez is very aggressive on the bike, he’s willing to take a lot of risks and he’s very talented.”

(Post-race, Hayden’s crew chief said he was pleased his rider finished 11th.)

At 1:35 p.m., Mike Watt takes off his headset. He’s part of the crew for Czechoslovakia’s Karel Abraham, slated to start in the sixth row, in the 17th position.

“I think Karel can do very well,” says Watt. “His shoulder is still hurting him — he had a dislocated shoulder last year. That’s tough to race with but he keeps getting better with every race.”

As for Marquez, Watt says, “Everyone is talking about him being the best because he is the best. He won here last year, he’s been the fastest here in every session this week and he’s definitely the guy to beat. He’s the world champion.”

By 2:50 p.m., Marquez would show Austin and a worldwide television audience exactly why he is the reigning world champion. Marquez won the race without ever truly being threatened.

Abraham, after a rough first lap which dropped him to 22nd place, rebounded strong to finish 14th.

“Right now, Marquez has everything going for him,” said Abraham. “This is a tough sport and it takes a lot of elements to succeed.

“And, right now, Marquez has everything going his way — including some good luck. He’s deserving of how well he did today and how well he’s been doing.”

Contact Allan Mandell at amandell@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7566​ and read his blog at KDHPressbox.com

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