Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) left his best till last at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, as the ‘Maniac’ slammed in a 2:04.599 to depose the King of COTA Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) from the top on Friday. The gap between the two was just 0.056, and Marquez also suffered a crash on Friday.
Andrea Iannone – P1
“I have a good feeling at this circuit, and a good feeling with the bike. The conditions are difficult because the track is dirty, but it’s the same for everybody. I’m really happy because we worked in a good way today, and the most important thing is to continue like this tomorrow and remain focused. For sure the target for us is to stay at the top during qualifying, because overtaking is difficult so it’s better to start at the front for the race. It’s hard to recover from the back, and harder to show our potential. We hope to improve tomorrow, and I believe that anything is possible because I feel positive and ready to fight for the top.”
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager
“Of course it’s nice to be in first position, even if it’s only Friday. I take positives from it because Andrea had good pace throughout the whole session and he was fast for several laps. And this is despite the fact that we’re still working on bike setup with him, and trying different things, so this has been very good. I’m also glad that Alex managed to improve the bike at the end of the session and stay in the Top 10; this could be important tomorrow if it rains. So we’ll continue to work with both riders, to improve and be ready for Sunday.”
Marc Marquez – P2
“I’m quite happy with how things are going because I felt strong from the beginning, and we worked for the race. Most importantly, I did my lap time with a hard rear tyre. They also say it may rain tomorrow, so it’s positive to be up in second place. Our pace is already good, but there are a few things we want to improve because I don’t yet feel 100%. This afternoon I had a small crash when I tried another setup, so we need to keep working, also because there are some riders looking strong, in particular Vinales. Today we were able to try several tyres but we must also understand more on that side. Anyway, let’s wait and see; there’s so much that remains between now and Sunday.”
Behind the number 93, the Movistar Yamaha duo of Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi completed the top four, within another couple of tenths as it tightened up at the top.
Maverick Vinales – P3
“FP2 went quite well and I‘m quite happy over all, even considering we didn‘t try the soft at the end because in the beginning I didn‘t feel good on the soft on the first laps. I still think we could have had good potential on the soft. So, I think we still have a margin to improve. We started better than we did on the previous two tracks. I hope we can go faster and have a bit more stable bike for tomorrow.”
Valentino Rossi – P4
“The second session has been positive again because I was fourth and pretty fast. We worked on the race pace because with the medium tyres there’s a bit less grip, so we still have some work to do, but the feeling is positive. The track was a bit better than this morning. Let’s see what the weather is tomorrow, although the forecast says rain.”
With weather looking set to change on Saturday in Austin, the end of FP2 saw a mad dash to get into the top ten and secure provisional entry to Q2 qualifying. In that rush, Iannone was the last to strike big – and win – but there was another big headline, too: Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) ending the day in P13 overall; heading for Q1 if the rain comes.
Behind the four men at the top, the timesheets remained tight and it was Championship leader Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) locking out the top five as he aims to hold onto that advantage heading back from the US.
Cal Crutchlow – P5
“I’m happy enough with the way things went, I got the best feeling out the bike I could. I feel that everybody will be thinking the same thing today, that the track was in terrible condition. It was very bumpy and very dirty, it cleaned up a little bit in the afternoon, but it was still quite difficult to find a good feeling with the bike. In the end, I felt the Honda was working ok and my team did a good job to manage the situation well. Now we have to go into tomorrow with a positive mind and try to improve the setting for the qualifying session.”
One of the men fighting him for the win last time out, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), was on his tail in P6 as the Spaniard got Texas off to a positive start – keeping compatriot Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) just behind him by a mere three hundredths.
Alex Rins – P6
“I’m quite happy because we did a good job from FP1 onwards, and where we lacked a little bit we were able to adjust the bike well for FP2 and it was better. With the race tyre I feel strong and I have good pace, we still need to work a bit on setup but we’re going in a good direction. Usually our rhythm in wet conditions is good and I like it a lot, so we will see what happens tomorrow.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P7
“After this first day of testing my feelings are definitely better than Qatar and above all in Argentina. Overall the track is slower for everyone, but in the afternoon the asphalt was cleaner, there was more grip, and we were able to be faster. My time is not bad, but I lost almost half a second when Nakagami fell in front of me, otherwise I think I might have been in the top five. We still have to improve and will also depend on the weather we will find tomorrow, but meanwhile if it is raining we are already sure to be in Q2.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P8
“It was a rather difficult day and it’s really a shame that such a beautiful track has asphalted asphalt. This morning the track was still dirty, which complicated the job, but in the afternoon we managed to improve enough. We are not in place yet, but we knew that we would have been struggling on this circuit and in the end we did not get that bad. We must continue to work and hope to have time to do so tomorrow because rain is anticipated. Anyway, it’s good to be in the top ten so we can be more relaxed.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) had moved up late in the day to eighth, ecuring a safe move through to Q2 if the skies changes on Saturday, with an impressive performance from Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) seeing the Spaniard take ninth, just under a tenth off the 2017 Championship runner up.
Aleix Espargaro’ – P9
“I am very happy. I can consider this the best Friday practice since the season start. A year ago, this tracked proved to be the toughest one for me, whereas today we started off well, getting into the top ten straight away, and I am convinced that we still have margin for growth. This is further demonstration that the RS-GP is truly competitive, with clear improvements compared to last year’s version. I am convinced of this and I think that to demonstrate it, all we need to do is finish the weekend without obstacles. We found a lot of bumps on the track. I know they did work to reduce the dips, but I think that the only solution for the problem in the future is to resurface the track.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), meanwhile, completed the top ten. The three-time World Champion found FP1 tough going as he rides just over a week after surgery on a broken wrist, but was back at it in FP2. Pedrosa also put in a representative amount of laps as he tested his fitness, as well as being able to take a stunning provisional place in Q2.
Dani Pedrosa – P10
“I’m happy with this afternoon’s result, as we finally managed to get a bit better position than I was expecting, and this is very positive. That said, both of today’s sessions were tough, especially FP2, because this afternoon I gave maximum effort in order to understand if there’s any reason to race on Sunday. This morning I felt quite a lot of pain, but I just tried to feel what I could do on the bike. My pace wasn’t so good, so I tried to put myself in a better position this afternoon, and I’m very pleased with the outcome. Now we have to try and control the swelling ahead of tomorrow’s action. This is one of our biggest targets now, as the swelling has increased due to the efforts. We’ll try our best to handle a bit better pace tomorrow so that we may approach the race with the aim of getting some points.”
Danilo Petrucci has managed to significantly improve his pace in the FP2 after working hard on the set up with his team. In the afternoon the Italian rider lowered his time by more than a second and a half but he wasn’t able to conquer the Top 10 finishing just a tenth of a second from Dani Pedrosa’s tenth position. Petrux recorded the Top Speed of the day (347.9 km/h) that represents the new record of the Circuit of the Americas.
Danilo Petrucci – P11
“I did two fast laps but I was on the limit. I was out of the Top 10 by a tenth and this could be a problem in case of rain tomorrow. The bike suffers a lot on the many bumps scattered on the circuit. We’ll try to do something to improve tomorrow. It’s only the first day but I didn’t expect to struggle so much”.
Tito Rabat – P12
“It was a very good day. I thought that I would be struggling a lot, but things went better than I expected. In the morning, the track condition was really poor, but in the afternoon, the grip improved as there was less dust on the tarmac. I had a lot of confidence and I felt comfortable all day long. I had a crash this afternoon, but I went out again after that and immediately settled into my rhythm again. My goal tomorrow is to do a good job in FP3 and move up to Q2 directly.”
Johann Zarco – P13
“This was a difficult first day in Texas. This morning I was unlucky with some mechanical issues, so I couldn’t work like I wanted. In the end, the laps I did were quite good. In the afternoon, we were honestly struggling a lot. During the practice, I had some good feelings and I thought we could improve with the soft tyre, but finally it has been even worse with the soft one. It’s kind of strange and it’s a pity, because we are not inside the top 10. I hope that it will be dry, so I can push during FP3 and over all be able to have a good bike and find my pace.”
Jack Miller made precious progress during the day but the gap from the Top 10 remains wide. The Australian had a better feeling in the FP2 and this gave him confidence ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.
Jack Miller – P14
“I am quite satisfied with what we have done in the afternoon although I can not be happy for this first day. I’m losing too much in the first sector, especially in changing directions and I can’t make the bike work well. However, we’ve made some progress in FP2 so I still have confidence in tomorrow’s qualifying session”.
Scott Redding – P15
“This is the first time I’ve had to ride on such bumpy asphalt and that created some difficulties for me, but I can be satisfied with the way the day went. I think that I have the speed to get into the positions that will send me straight through to Q2, but I was unable to take advantage of the first soft tyre, so I dropped back a bit. With the soft tyre on the front, the bike moves around a lot, so tomorrow we’ll have to improve in this area and try a different tyre.”
Hafizh Syahrin – P16
“I felt really good in FP2, we improved a lot. Eventually I had some great sensations. By the end of the session, I was very close to Lüthi, but Nakagami crashed in front of him, so we both had to slow down, which was unfortunate, because I had a lot of confidence with the bike and I think I could have been even faster. In the end, it was a mistake in planning my strategy, but I think that I can do better tomorrow. I hope the weather stays like this and we can get closer to the front in the course of the weekend.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P17
“I knew this would be a difficult track with a MotoGP bike, but now, race by race, I am understanding how to adapt to MotoGP. It’s quite positive and, of course, the FP1 result was very good, we finished in the top 10, but in FP2 conditions got better and better and all the other riders improved. Overall, today was quite positive. I’m a little bit disappointed as I had a small crash on the last lap, but I’m ok and that’s the important thing. Tomorrow everybody is expecting rain so we’ll have to wait and see, but what I will say is that we’ll be prepared.”
Karel Abraham – P18
“FP1 was very difficult for me, it was very slippery and I had many problems with the bike so I was not happy at all. FP2 I had to push harder, the guys were working on the bike as well and we went instantly faster. Towards the end of the session we also tried different front and rear tyres and it seems like it worked because on the last exit we made a big step and improved the lap time quite a lot. Result-wise it doesn’t look great because we are 18th but we have improved the lap time a lot and I have to say I am happy with the afternoon session.
Tom Lüthi – P19
“The main issue today was that I didn’t find any grip with the rear tyre and I had a lot of sliding. But then when you get some grip on the edge of the tyre on corner exit the bike is very nervous which makes this track very physical and tiring to ride. For the race we need more grip and stability overall. A constant slide is okay in the long corners but you need to load the rear with more grip out of all the slow turns.”
Franco Morbidelli – P20
“We are working a lot on the set-up, both the bike and electronics and we made a good step in the afternoon improving by 1.7 seconds. There are still many small steps we can make and my focus is just to ride at my best in the conditions. The bumps are less this year and despite the dusty surface I found the grip levels not so bad.”
Álvaro Bautista – P21
“It has been a difficult day. We have the same problem as recent races, with a lack of feel from the tyre. We tried some different things but couldn’t improve. The track was also dirty and I just didn’t feel comfortable on the bike. The bike is not turning well on the throttle in the longer corners and since we have not found a solution on the rear we need to work hard with the front to get it to turn. Let’s see if we can find some time tomorrow.”
Xavier Simeon – P24
“It was a tough challenge for me to understand this track with the Ducati and I didn’t feel comfortable in the first session. The second session was much better, but I still need to improve in many ways. Mor than anything I have to work on my seating position because I am a bit tense on the bike and this track is physically very demanding. If I achieve that, I can make a lot of progress. I simply have to ride more relaxed in order to be fast. The Ducati is one of the most difficult bikes to ride on this track, especially in the first sector, where it is really tough to get the bike to turn.”
So will the skies change over COTA? Will the King take back his throne on Saturday? Or will the competition get even closer as we count down to Round 3…
2018 MotoGP COTA Friday Practice Times
IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 2’04.599
ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 0.359
CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda Honda 0.489
RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 0.853
LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Ducati Team Ducati 0.888
DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1.048
ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1.140
PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1.162
PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Alma Pramac Racing Ducati 1.290
RABAT Tito 53 SPA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 1.311
ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1.334
MILLER Jack 43 AUS Alma Pramac Racing Ducati 1.417
REDDING Scott 45 GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1.479
SYAHRIN Hafizh 55 MAL Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1.620
NAKAGAMI Takaaki 30 JPN LCR Honda Honda 1.798
ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Angel Nieto Team Ducati 1.956
LUTHI Tom 12 SWI EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 2.026
MORBIDELLI Franco 21 ITA EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 2.041
BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Angel Nieto Team Ducati 2.084
SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 2.434
ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 2.537
SIMEON Xavier 10 BEL Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 3.422
MotoGP World Championship Points Standings
Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda GBR 38
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 35
3 Johann ZARCO Yamaha FRA 28
4 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha SPA 21
5 Marc MARQUEZ Honda SPA 20
6 Jack MILLER Ducati AUS 19
7 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati ITA 17
8 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 16
9 Alex RINS Suzuki SPA 16
10 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki ITA 15
11 Tito RABAT Ducati SPA 14
12 Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 9
13 Hafizh SYAHRIN Yamaha MAL 9
14 Franco MORBIDELLI Honda ITA 6
15 Pol ESPARGARO KTM SPA 5
16 Scott REDDING Aprilia GBR 4
17 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati SPA 3
18 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda JPN 3
19 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati CZE 1
20 Jorge LORENZO Ducati SPA 1
Oliveira on top in Texas
Oliveira was ominous on Day 1 – but the field was tight
Friday practice at COTA belonged to the number 44, with Lowes in close pursuit
As the times tumbled from FP1, Miguel Oliveira continued his perfect start to the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas as the Portuguese rider consolidated his place at the top of the standings in FP2 with a 2:.11.104 to go fastest overall. Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) put in his best lap at the end of the session to finish the day in P2 and just, 0.021 was the gap splitting the two KTM riders at the front.
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was a close third on the combined times, the Spaniard also improving his time late on to get within 0.069 seconds of Oliveira’s time – a good day for the number 73, who ended both sessions less than a tenth off the top. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was also right in the hunt throughout, setting his best time mid-way through FP2 and, ending the day P4 – could a front row start is certainly be on the cards for the 2016 Moto3 World Champion?
The ever impressive and improving rookie Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) leaped into fifth position on his last lap of the day – his time just 0.346 seconds off provisional pole. Below the Spaniard, sixth to tenth on the combined times were split by less than a tenth of a second. Isaac Viñales (SAG Team) was a solid sixth, with Swiss Innovative Investors rider Iker Lucuona seventh, Hector Barbera (Pons HP 40) eighth, Championship leader Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) ninth after mechanical problems in FP1 and Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) rounding out the top ten.
Championship protagonists Franceso Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) were 12th and 13th respectively, and will be looking to move forward on Saturday.
There were two crashes late on for both the Tech 3 Racing riders, with Bo Bendsneyder and Remy Gardner going down in unharmed in the session.
Remy Gardner – P23
“I’m pretty disappointed with today, because I was expecting a lot more. I’m really struggling with this track, which we knew before, but I didn’t expect this much. I still need to find my way around here, but we also need a bit more from the bike. In Fp2 I crashed by the end of the session, which was not really helping the situation. I’m definitely pushing, but hopefully we’ll find a better compromise for tomorrow to be ready for the race on Sunday.”
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) went fastest on Friday at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, topping both sessions on Day 1 but leaving it late in the day to strike on his final lap in FP2. Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), the Championship leader, was second quickest and the man who lost out to Martin’s scorching last lap, with Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) completing the top three – only 0.004 down on Canet.
After a dusty first session, FP2 saw times tumble by more than two seconds as more rubber got laid down. But as Martin remained top, so too did Argentina GP winner Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP) retain his presence in the top echelons, taking P4. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing), who took his maiden podium in Qatar, completed the top five.
Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) was sixth quickest as Italians showed some serious pace in the top ten, just ahead of German rider Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) and another Italian in the form of Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse). Livio Loi (Reale Avintia Academy) took P9 after some trouble in FP1, with the top ten completed by an impressive sophomore performance from Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing).
Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) was quickest rookie overall and was well within the top ten in FP1 before ending the day in P15.
There weren’t a lot of incidents on Day 1 but one high profile crash saw Mugello winner Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) take a high-speed tumble, rider ok.
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