Marc Marquez completed his domination of practice as MotoGP™ action began in Texas on Friday. The Repsol Honda Team rider comfortably topped both opening sessions, leading fellow Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Stefan Bradl.
Following on from the three-day test session in which he took part a month ago, Marquez looked comfortable from the off at what is the start of only his second race weekend in the premier class. Posting a best lap time of 2:05.031, improving on his previous best effort as the afternoon chequered flag flew, the 20-year-old Catalan led compatriot Pedrosa by over half a second.
“I’m quite happy because, from the beginning, I felt the same feeling with the bike as at the test,” the reigning Moto2™ World Champion explained to motogp.com in the paddock. “Actually, to start with there was zero grip, but it got better and better in the afternoon. The times should be much faster still tomorrow. We’re focusing most on the race – that’s the most important thing to do. We need to find which tire works best for every session.”
Pedrosa was also aware that there is still work to do.
“Not very good today,” he began bluntly. “The track was really slippery and we had no grip. At the test the grip was much higher, so it’s kind of weird. Tomorrow we’ll just keep going! In general I think all the riders had problems leaning the bike over in the corners; in the morning the tires took a bit of a beating, but in the afternoon the situation improved a little.”
Bradl, on the LCR Honda MotoGP machine, moved into the top three as championship leader Jorge Lorenzo and Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Valentino Rossi rounded out the top five. Perhaps to no great surprise of any of their rivals, this was the same quintet that had tested at the Hermann Tilke-designed facility back in March.
Cal Crutchlow was sixth for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 but 1.8 seconds off the leading pace, suggesting that a repetition of his front row start in Qatar may not be so easy to achieve on Saturday. Andrea Dovizioso led the way for Ducati Team from seventh; in the morning he and Nicky Hayden – with the American sampling a different version of windscreen – both finished inside the top five, but on this occasion the Italian hit trouble and was forced to park up less than 20 minutes in.
Completing the first group of 10 were GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista – seemingly taking an immediate liking to the 5.5-km layout – plus the aforementioned Hayden and fellow American Ben Spies, on the Ignite Pramac Racing machine.
PBM’s Yonny Hernandez impressed in the first session, finishing 11th and leading the way for the CRT runners, but Qatar pace-setter Aleix Espargaro was back on form in the afternoon and demoted the Colombian to 12th spot; this was notwithstanding a brief front brake issue for the Power Electronics Aspar rider.
Hoping to move ahead of those two CRTs is England’s Bradley Smith, whose MotoGP debut continued with the taxing task of learning a challenging new circuit for which his team has no past data; he ended the day in 13th position ahead of Aspar’s Randy de Puniet, who suffered the first significant fall of the weekend but escaped unharmed.
Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone was another man to find himself mixed up with CRT representatives, finishing narrowly ahead of Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Claudio Corti, Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama and Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci.
In 20th place, Michael Laverty was encouraged by the pace of PBM’s own-built bike, behind which were no less than four regular competitors.
The field is completed by Ioda’s Lukas Pesek, Gresini’s Bryan Staring, Forward’s Colin Edwards – who is delighted to be racing at home in Texas – and Blusens’ Hector Barbera. Rounding out the 26-rider field are this weekend’s pair of American wildcard riders: Blake Young and Michael Barnes of their respective Attack Performance Racing and GPTech outfits.
After a low-key start to the day, finishing 23rd in first practice, Scott Redding shot to the top of the Moto2™ classification on Friday afternoon. The Marc VDS Racing Team rider, second in the standings, set the pace in Texas from Desguaces La Torre Maptaq’s Xavier Simeon and Came Iodaracing Project’s Johann Zarco.
Lapping almost three seconds quicker than the leading lap time of the morning period and helped by the fact that the track had been cleaned up further by the preceding Moto3™ and MotoGP™ sessions, Redding reduced the pace to 2:12.481.
Second-placed Simeon was three quarters of a second slower, but just 42 thousandths up on Zarco. This left morning pace-setter Terol fourth for Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2, with NGM Mobile Racing’s Simone Corsi inside the top five for the second time today. Second Marc VDS rider Mika Kallio was next up, demoting championship leader and Tuenti HP 40’s Pol Espargaro to seventh place.
Maverick Viñales set the pace as Moto3™ practice continued at Circuit of the Americas on Friday afternoon. The Team Calvo rider edged out Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins by half a second as Qatar race winner Luis Salom completed the top three.
Viñales, still carrying an injury to his right hand following a crash at the last pre-season test in Jerez, placed himself atop the timesheets with a best effort of 2:18.254.
MotoGP Top 15 Practice Results
- 1 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 2’05.031
- 2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 2’05.585
- 3 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 2’06.173
- 4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 2’06.637
- 5 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 2’06.868
- 6 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 2’06.899
- 7 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 2’07.236
- 8 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 2’07.256
- 9 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 2’07.699
- 10 Ben Spies Ducati USA 2’08.034
- 11 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 2’08.299
- 12 Yonny Hernandez ART COL 2’09.374
- 13 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 2’09.424
- 14 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 2’09.739
- 15 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 2’09.860