With a cast of potential and proven rivals, it’s going to be more mountain than molehill. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) is a former polesitter, took second last year after challenging eventual winner Francesco Bagnaia and bothered the podium battle the year before. That battle was one that saw Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) play a big role as he took second in it, making it one apiece for two of the biggest names in the field. Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward), who makes his 200th start this weekend, is the other rider who’s previously been on the podium at COTA – albeit on different machinery. And there’s only one man still on the grid who has a race win in Austin to his name: Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2).