One is the rising star of MotoGP, the other is the reigning champion who benefited from a similar rise to glory. Who will win at Austin? We aren’t placing our bets just yet…

This weekend sees the return of the MotoGP circus to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and here at BRM HQ we’re not sure who the hot favourite for Sunday morning’s race will be.

The 5.5km long Circuit of the Americas.

In the red corner you have Marc Marquez, the reigning MotoGP champion, who has blitzed the field in Texas for four consecutive years in a row with Honda.

In the blue corner, you have Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales, the standout rider of the 2017 season so far. Two races into the 2017 season, Viñales remains the man to beat. With his two textbook wins at the Losail and the Termas de Río Hondo circuits in his maiden year with Yamaha, he’ll want to push to the maximum again this weekend to make it a hat-trick in Austin and give Yamaha its 500th Grand Prix win.

“The next round is Austin and I’m happy because I won my first race there in Moto2, I’ve always been very strong here, said Viñales. “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.

With Valentino Rossi also on form, climbing aboard the podium in each race this season so far, it really does look like the two Movistar Yamaha riders are destined to do well in the third race of the 2017 MotoGP season.

That said, Honda fans will be feeling pretty confident that a red bike will cross the finish line first, though. The Repsol Honda Team have achieved two 1-2 finishes in Austin with Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. For his part, Marquez has never lost at the Circuit of the Americas (which was also the scene of his first-ever Premier-class victory, in 2013), nor has he started from anywhere but Pole Position in the four times he has raced at the track.

“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, says Marquez. Anyway, another race weekend is about to start and we’ll 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. I also love the “American” style, with all the fans enjoying the sport and the fun at the track, so let’s get back in action and see how it goes there.”

We’ll have a much better idea of which of the two lead riders will be the hot favourite for the top spot on the podium over the weekend, with Free Practice and qualifying taking place over Saturday and Sunday, before the Grand Prix of the Americas race at 7am our time on Monday.