MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez was fastest in both Friday free practice sessions at the Circuit of the Americas, ending FP2 a considerable 1.005s margin quicker than Andrea Dovizioso, whilst Dani Pedrosa was third best.
Marquez set a best time of 2’03.490s to lead the way at the state-of-the-art track in Texas where he took his first premier class victory in 2013 and on Saturday he will be a clear favourite to repeat his pole position from last year. Indeed Marquez set his best Friday time on a hard tyre and was less than 0.5s from his own pole record set on a medium tyre 12 months ago.
Ducati Team’s Dovizioso was the ‘best of the rest’ using a softer tyre, whilst Marquez led his Repsol Honda teammate Pedrosa by 1.133s. Like Dovizioso his Italian compatriot and fellow Ducati rider Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) made use of a soft compound to lap fourth quickest.
The best of the Yamaha riders was Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) at a circuit which he admits he found tricky last season. The nine-time World Champion trailed Marquez by 1.3s.
The impressive Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) lapped sixth quickest on the ‘Open’ Yamaha and outpaced Factory-equipped rivals Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) and Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) in seventh and eighth respectively.
Lorenzo was apparently unable to make the most of the re-introduced 2013-spec Bridgestone tyre which has been brought to this round and for which he stated a preseason preference over the 2014 version.
Britons Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) rounded out the top ten behind Lorenzo.
- Marc Marquez 93 ESP Repsol Honda Team HONDA 2’03.490
- Andrea Dovizioso 4 ITA Ducati Team DUCATI 2’04.495
- Dani Pedrosa 26 ESP Repsol Honda Team HONDA 2’04.623
- Andrea Iannone 29 ITA Pramac Racing DUCATI 2’04.669
- Valentino Rossi 46 ITA Yamaha Factory YAMAHA 2’04.793
- Aleix Espargaro 41 ESP NGM Mobile Forward Racing YAMAHA 2’04.844
- Stefan Bradl 6 GER LCR Honda MotoGP HONDA 2’04.870
- Jorge Lorenzo 99 ESP Yamaha Factory Racing YAMAHA 2’04.976
- Cal Crutchlow 35 GBR Ducati Team DUCATI 2’04.981
- Bradley Smith 38 GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 2’05.366
- Alvaro Bautista 19 ESP Go & Fun Honda Gresini HONDA 2’05.453
- Pol Espargaro 44 ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 2’05.672
- Scott Redding 45 GBR Go & Fun Honda Gresini HONDA 2’05.937
- Nicky Hayden 69 USA Drive M7 Aspar HONDA 2’06.188
- Yonny Hernandez 68 COL Pramac Racing DUCATI 2’06.376
- Colin Edwards 5 USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing YAMAHA 2’06.880
- Hiroshi Aoyama 7 JPN Drive M7 Aspar HONDA 2’07.034
- Karel Abraham 17 CZE Cardion AB Motoracing HONDA 2’07.053
- Hector Barbera 8 ESP Avintia Racing MotoGP FTR-KAWASAKI 2’07.211
- Danilo Petrucci 9 ITA IodaRacing Project IODA-SUTER 2’08.379
- Michael Laverty 70 GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART & PBM 2’08.973
- Broc Parkes 23 AUS Paul Bird Motorsport PBM 2’09.004
- Mike Di Meglio 63 FRA Avintia Racing MotoGP FTR-KAWASAKI 2’09.247
The opening day of the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas saw Efren Vazquez (SAXOPRINT RTG) on the pace in the Moto3™ class, ahead of Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Isaac Viñales (Calvo Team) in the top three.
Honda equipped Vazquez set down a late 2’16.696s best lap to outpace KTM rider Miller by 0.129s, whilst third fastest rider Viñales was over half a second behind – also on a KTM.
Jakub Kornfeil (Calvo Team) and Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) were also in the top five, both well under a second off Vazquez’ pace setting lap.
Niccolo Antonelli (Junior Team GO&FUN), Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Juanfran Guevara (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3), Enea Bastianinni (Junior Team Go&FUN Moto3) and Eric Granado (Calvo Team) were all in the top ten.
There were crashes for Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Scott Deroue (RW Racing GP) and Matteo Ferrari (San Carlo Team Italia) but all escaped unharmed.
Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing) was the fastest Moto2™ representative at the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas on Friday, leading from Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert) and Esteve Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team) in FP2.
Zarco’s best time of 2’10.839 put him ahead of his rivals, with only Aegerter able to get within 0.25s of the pace man. Aegerter had crashed with Ricky Cardus early in FP2 but both escaped major injury.
Rabat, meanwhile, was 0.3s off Zarco in third and an intriguing day of qualifying lies ahead on Saturday.
Also in the hunt for front row slots should be the likes of impressive rookie and Moto3™ World Champion Maverick Viñales (Pons HP 40), Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Mika Kallio Marc (VDS Racing Team) who were all in the top six, despite a light crash for Simeon.
Luis Salom (Pons HP 40), Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia), the aforementioned Cardus (Tech 3) and Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing) were all in the top ten and within 0.9s of Zarco.
Azlan Shah (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) also walked away from a spill, whilst Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) had a heavy crash at turn 18 at the end of the session. Cortese sat up after the incident but will of course be checked over thoroughly in the circuit medical centre.
Andrea Dovizioso put in a great performance in the first two free practice sessions at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, where the second round of the MotoGP World Championship is taking place this weekend. Despite not feeling 100% due to a flu virus, the Ducati Team rider had no problems running close to the top of the timesheets, and he finished the day in second place with a time of 2’04.495, with only Marquez ahead of him. Fifth in the morning session, Dovizioso improved in the afternoon by almost two seconds, when conditions were more favorable, and he was satisfied with outcome of the first day of activity in the Grand Prix of the Americas.
His team-mate Cal Crutchlow had a tougher time today. In the morning the British rider was hit by an electronic problem on his Desmosedici GP14 and in the afternoon he struggled to find an ideal set-up, finishing the first day in ninth place.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 2nd (2m04.495s) – “I am very pleased with how this weekend has started despite the fact that physically I don’t feel well at all. We are quick, we’re working well, and I have managed to quickly dial into this track. It’s a really nice track and great fun to race here. We are very strong under braking and we can use our power on the main straight so we are able to lap well for this reason. To set these times I had to use the soft tyre at the end of the session because it’s always important to be inside the top 10 for the Q2. As well as our one-lap form, our race pace is not bad either and that’s positive.”
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 9th (2m04.981s) – “Unfortunately this morning we had an electronic problem at the start of the session and in the afternoon we took a different direction for the set-up and never took enough advantage in the last exit to make a good enough lap time. I felt we should have been a little faster; but we did make progress throughout the day even though we still have to find a lot in some different areas.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo took to the track today for the first free practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix of The Americas.
The first day’s action on the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) proved to be a tough one for both Rossi and Lorenzo as they began the hunt for an optimum set up for Sunday. Nine-time world champion Rossi dropped a place from fourth to fifth between the two sessions but was able to improve his lap time by just over a second as he got to grips with the Texan track to finish just three tenths from second placed rider Andrea Dovizioso.
Teammate Lorenzo was also able to make a big step into the second session after a frustrating start to the day saw him end practice one in 12th place. The Mallorcan worked hard through session two, climbing as high as third at one point before settling for eighth in the combined times, less than two tenths from his teammate in fifth.
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team’s Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro finished today’s free practice sessions in optimistic spirits, both riders lowered their lap times from the first free practice session by a full second with the conditions being sunny and dry, at the state of the art track, which features the longest straight of a circuit on the Grand Prix calendar.
Bradley Smith relentlessly amassed a total of 36 laps of the Texan circuit across both of today’s sessions to finish in 10th place in the combined times. In his second appearance aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 in Texas, Smith posted a best time of 2:05.366 which means that he has already lapped faster than last year, with a gap of just over half a second to the fastest Factory Yamaha of Valentino Rossi. After having spent the first day evaluating all of the possible tyre options and setting his fastest time on the harder one, the young British rider remains confident of a top 6 result in tomorrow’s qualifying session.
Rookie Pol Espargaro proceeded to collected valuable data today as he refined the setup of his Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike, whilst also sampling the 2013 Bridgestone tyres for the first time ever at the challenging Circuit of the Americas. The reigning Moto2 World Champion finished in 12th position with a best time of 2:05.672 and just over half a second from Factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. The Spanish rider who is aiming for a top 10 finish in the race event on Sunday, is now back to full health following his collarbone injury, and completed 31 laps around the 5.513 kilometre circuit.
NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro completed the morning session in second place behind Marc Marquez, the fastest rider today, and he closed the FP2 in sixth position with 2’04.844, less than 2 tenths from the provisional podium. The Spaniard struggled to find a constant pace on the technical COTA circuit, famous for its long1.2 km back straight and the slow corners to do in first gear.
It was not an easy start also for team mate Colin Edwards, who closed in 16th position with 2’06.880. The Texas Tornado worked on the bike set up to adapt his machine on the demanding Texan racetrack.
Valentino Rossi – 5th, 2’04.793 – “I’m quite satisfied about today because I already have a good feeling with the bike. We have a lot to improve but the general balance of the bike is not so bad. This morning I was fourth and this afternoon I am fifth. I’m not happy with that because I have a better potential but I don’t work well with the soft tyre yet. I think I have the possibility to go a bit faster and stay with the top three but I’m not yet able to use the maximum potential of the tyre. We have to continue and work to improve the balance and the setting, I also need to improve my riding style and try the maximum for tomorrow.”
Jorge Lorenzo – 8th, 2’04.976 – “It looks like compared to the Hondas we are struggling, more or less the same as we were last year. We made a big step from the morning session although still too far from Marquez in first but not so far from second place. We need to make adjustments to the bike and electronics to make a perfect set up and also I need to improve myself as an influence. On the bike I feel a little tired, but compared to the morning session I feel happier.”
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director – “There is a gap to the front at the moment but we are honestly in a better position than last year when we started here so I am confident we can improve session by session, exactly as we did at the last round in Qatar. Both riders performed well today, I believe Vale’s gap to the front would have been smaller if he had been using a softer tyre but he spent most of the second session working with the hardest option to see what was possible. Jorge made a big improvement from the first session, working as hard as possible despite still recovering from a flu virus. We’re going to take today’s data now and work tonight to prepare the next steps for tomorrow so we can take the set up a step further.”
Bradley Smith – 10th, 2’05.366 – “The biggest positive of today is that I am riding faster and more confident on the track compared to last year. I feel great with the bike especially in sector 1 and 3, but I still need to improve in the second part of the circuit as well as in the last one. This afternoon we were able to test both tyre solutions, the medium one as well as the hard one. With the hard tyre I feel really good and I also did my fastest lap with it. However, as the weather may change we will have to choose the tyre accordingly for the rest of the weekend, but we are in a good position to make the right decision. Overall, today was useful as we collected very valuable data and we know how to go quicker, which will hopefully be by another second.”
Pol Espargaro – 12th, 2’05.672 – “Today has been a tricky day and a big challenge for me. There was a lot to learn and this track is really difficult. If you make a slight mistake with the line at the beginning of the second corner, you finish completely off line at the end of the corner sequence. Also using the 2013 Bridgestone tyre for the first time did not make things easy. That’s why I think I am pushing a bit too much, I definitely want to ride smoother because it’s the only way to be fast with the Yamaha. So I just need to relax more on the bike, and continue to work with my team and for sure we can improve. There are things to be changed, but I am confident that I can qualify well and I am ready to give it my all tomorrow.”
Aleix Espargaro – 6th, 2’04.844 – “I’m not very satisfied because I cannot be consistent. There are 3 or 4 corners that we do in first gears and for sure we need to improve the engine brake and also the braking stability. I know that we can be faster on a single lap but in preparation of the race, we need to have a more consistent race pace. It cost me a bit to understand this track, but it’s only the first day and we will continue working”.
Colin Edwards – 16th, 2’06.880 – “The COTA racetrack is awesome and it’s a great feeling to come here driving my car with my family instead of taking a long flight overseas. The support is incredible and I would like to get a good result, but I’m still struggling a lot to make the bike turn. We will keep on working on the bike set up to improve my feeling with the front”.
Repsol HRC Report
World Champion, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, has finished the first day in Texas a second faster than his next competitor, with teammate Dani Pedrosa in third.
With air temperatures 7ºC warmer than this morning, and the track temperature 20ºC hotter, all the riders were able to improve on this morning’s FP1 time. Both Marc and Dani spent the afternoon session, and set their fastest times, on the hard front and rear option Bridgestone tyres with Marc’s fastest time of 2’03.490 (just 0.469s off his pole time from 2013) coming on lap 9 of 15, and Dani’s time of 2’04.623 on his final lap of 15.
Marc Marquez – 1st – 2’03.490 – “This first day of practice in Austin went really well. Obviously I’m happy with the time I set, and also with the gap of a second between myself and the next quickest rider. However, the most important thing for me is that my leg feels ok – much better than it did in Qatar. The injury was bothering me a little, but I was able to participate in both Free Practice sessions without taking any painkillers. Now I just have to wait for tomorrow and see if things go better or worse for us then; we know that we have a small advantage and we will try to manage it well, but I am aware that the rest of the riders will also make improvements”
Dani Pedrosa – 3rd – 2’04.623 – “Today we did a good job with the tyres. We tried the hard compound and it went fairly well for us. Although we didn’t go very fast, we have a good feeling and I think that with a few tweaks to the setup we can take a big step forward and improve considerably tomorrow. Today was a positive day for us.”
Drive M7 Aspar Report
The winner of the inaugural GP of the Americas last year, and holder of the circuit record, Marc Márquez was a clear favourite for this round in the days leading up to the return to Texas. The Spaniard carried that responsibility with gusto, and dominated both free practice sessions of this second edition of the Grand Prix. While much remains of the weekend and circumstances may change, the Spaniard was way out in front on Friday. Although Marquez was the clear dominant force, Dani Pedrosa also set a consistent pace and Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone moved their Ducati’s up the order towards the end of the day. The 2013 tyre compounds are back for this Grand Prix, and Yamaha struggled on the opening day: Valentino Rossi was fifth, with Jorge Lorenzo eighth.
The DRIVE M7 Aspar riders began the GP of the Americas with mixed feelings. Nicky Hayden had an electrical problem at the end of the opening session, which fortunately did not disrupt his plans. The American compared two types of tyre compounds, and is ready to use either of the two options for the race this Sunday. He had a tougher time than expected negotiating the twisty Texan circuit, but hopes to improve tomorrow to cut the gap to the frontrunners. He concluded the day in fourteenth place after setting his best time on his thirteenth afternoon lap. His teammate, Hiroshi Aoyama, had little feeling in the morning, but worked on the tuning fork of his bike to find more confidence in the afternoon. He closed the day happy with his work. The Japanese rider was seventeenth overall and is eyeing further improvement tomorrow.
14th Nicky Hayden 2.06.188 (28 laps): “This morning at the end of the first session we had an electrical problem. We had to take the second bike out, with which we had planned to try a different setup from the number one machine, but we didn’t have time. Luckily my mechanics solved the electrical issue. Today we did a comparative tyre test: The soft tyre allows us to be faster, and the hard rubber worked better here than in Qatar. I think with this temperature that we have now, we can choose either of the two options. I’m enjoying the Circuit of the Americas a lot more than I did last year. The grip on the track is much greater than I had expected. Last year I had problems in the section with the flowing corners; I thought this year would be different but it is still tough. I hope to find a better pace tomorrow. We have some ideas about where we can improve. Today I did not want to focus on lap times, but instead work to improve my feeling with the bike. It is strange to be so far back at a home Grand Prix, so hopefully tomorrow we can improve.”
17th Hiroshi Aoyama 2.07.034 (31 laps): “This morning the asphalt was rather dirty, which didn’t make for an easy session. In the afternoon we adapted the front suspension to the conditions of the circuit, and our situation improved. I had a good feeling and immediately we could see this in my times. We continued working on our setup and are on the right track. With this morning’s setup the tyres suffered a lot, but with the afternoon configuration they performed better and held up for longer. Tomorrow we will continue working in order to improve the front end response a little more, and to increase tyre durability to ensure minimum wear.”
Scott Redding Report
A big improvement in his lap time during the second free practice session at the Circuit of the Americas, saw Scott Redding finish as the top open class Honda rider on the opening day in Austin.
Making his first appearance at COTA on the Honda RCV1000R, Scott used this morning’s free practice to get a feel for the bike and the track, before shaving an impressive 2.6s off his lap time in this afternoon’s second 45-minute session to end the day 13th on the timesheet.
Scott Redding // 13th // 2’05.937 – “I’m sure a few people were thinking ‘what’s happened to Scott?’ after this morning’s free practice session, but this is my first time here on the MotoGP bike and we haven’t tested here like we did in Qatar. It meant a bit more work this morning, just to get to grips with the bike and the track, but I took it fairly easy in the first session as the softer option tyre dropped off a lot towards the end. This afternoon I immediately felt better, especially with the fast changes of direction you get here. I still need to work on my braking, as I’m a little bit inconsistent at the moment. Sometimes I’m too early on the brakes and other times I’ve too late. But it was a good day overall, we tried a lot of things on the bike and I ended up as top open class Honda, so I’m happy with that.”
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Medium; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP1 – Dry. Ambient 19-20°C; Track 23-26°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP2 – Dry. Ambient 27-28°C; Track 44-44°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was in menacing form in the first two practice sessions at Circuit of The Americas, the reigning world champion setting a lap time of 2’03.490 in FP2 to finish over a second quicker than his closest rival.
Marquez’s benchmark time was 0.752 seconds quicker than the Circuit Record Lap he set in last year’s inaugural Americas Grand Prix and 1.005 seconds faster than Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who was second quickest today. The third quickest rider in today’s sessions was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who set a personal best lap time of 2’04.623 to finish 1.133 seconds behind his teammate. Out of the top three riders today Marquez and Pedrosa set their best time on the hard compound rear, while Dovizioso set his best time on the soft compound rear.
Both of today’s Free Practice sessions were dry, with cool and windy conditions greeting riders for FP1 before the wind eased and track temperatures soared in the afternoon, with a peak of 44°C recorded during FP2. Almost all riders preferred the use of softer option slicks front and rear in the cooler morning session and as conditions warmed up in afternoon, most riders switched to the harder option, medium compound front slick. In FP2 most of the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders preferred the hard compound rear slick, while for the Ducati and Open-class riders, the preference was split between the soft and medium compound rear slicks.
Slightly cooler conditions are forecast for tomorrow with the next MotoGP™ session, Free Practice 3 scheduled to start at 0955 local time (GMT -5).
Masao Azuma- Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Division – “Today we got two sessions with good track conditions and the warmer temperatures in the afternoon allowed the riders to try many tyre combinations. We received good feedback from the riders on all of our tyre specifications here and it was pleasing to see all three rear options featuring in the top five on the timesheet. Although the harder, medium compound front slick seems to be the most likely race tyre, rear tyre choice is still wide open and long runs in tomorrow’s session will make the situation clearer for the riders on what works best for them. Last year only two riders selected the hard compound rear slick for the race – including the winner Marquez – but with the improved edge grip offered by our new hard specification tyre, I think we will see more riders select this option for the race.”