MotoGP: The King of COTA is deposed

    Alex Rins celebrates his victory at the Grand Prix of the Americas.

    (CNN)Austin's curvaceous Circuit of the Americas played out a MotoGP drama at the weekend with barely an emotional or theatrical stone unturned.

    The race meeting had begun on a somber note, on Friday, with the official retirement of the late MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden's race number.
    The beloved American racer, who died after a training accident in 2017, was celebrated in a moving ceremony attended by his family alongside champions past and present.
      Hayden's father tearfully accepted a trophy emblazoned with his son's number, 69, and the rider's world championship winning Repsol Honda was reverently displayed in the paddock and then at the head of the grid.


        The MotoGP of the Americas has become something of a procession in recent years for Honda's current world champion, Marc Marquez.
        The Catalan is known as the King of COTA, and not without good reason. The 26-year-old has so dominated the meeting that he came to Austin in search of a record-equaling seventh consecutive win.
        For much of the weekend, that search looked as though it would bear fruit. Marquez stormed to pole position with a performance that left no one in any doubt that he would take some challenging.
        Marc Marquez, the King of COTA, lost his crown.
        Challenging was the word of the day during Saturday's sessions. Rain had been forecast, but the circuit was lashed with violent thunderstorms.
        Even after those subsided, fierce winds whipped along the track, threatening to lift some of the paddock's flimsier structures off onto the nearby Texan plains.
        One practice session was canceled, and the Australian rider Jack Miller described the conditions as 'scary' after qualifying.
        Certainly, team engineers were left scratching their heads about which settings might best suit the race after a day containing almost every possible weather permutation.
        Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso suffered in particular; the championship contender was left in 13th place after a disastrous Saturday.
        The evergreen Valentino Rossi, to the delight of his legion of fans, delivered an enormously impressive second place on the grid, with Briton Cal Crutchlow equally eye-catching in third.

        Sizzling race

        Come Sunday, the conditions were transformed once again. A bright but chilly start evolved into a sweltering, sunny afternoon. Sunbathing fans were treated to an equally sizzling race.
        At first, the riders appeared to stick to the script; Marquez blasted into a convincing early lead and Rossi kept pace, while behind him Suzuki's Alex Rins and Pramac Ducati's Miller jostled for position.