The final Free Practice session, FP4, that took place before the Qualifying got underway for the MotoGP class was another crash-filled session, as the carnage continued through from Free Practice 3 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Marquez quickest at the end of FP3
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) emerged as the quickest rider, taking the crown back from Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha) who claimed it at the end of FP3, as the 2016 MotoGP Champion, Marquez had no choice but to watch from the pit garage as he had crashed out of the session twice.
The circuit was once again overcast for the session and conditions remained cool which meant that the riders were caught out when it comes to ideal tyre temperatures. Nine times world champion, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) emerged on soft tyres were he completed a few laps possibly to check settings ahead of Qualifying.
Dovizioso has issues with the Ducati
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) immediately had issues with his Desmosedici GP17 as he retired to the side of the track and Marshalls had to try and bump start him to no success. A gang formed on track like a preview of what the race would be as they pushed to finalise settings.
Swift and slick recoveries from Baz and Marquez
Marquez, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Vinales battled it out for the top spot as the times began to meet the pace set earlier on. Aleix Espargaro was lifted out of the seat of his Aprilia Racing Team Gresini RS-GP as he passed through turn 18 as he like many other riders were struggling with the bumps that the American circuit offered. Later, Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) also ran on but thankfully the run off areas prevented him from crashing.
As they met the midway point, Marquez was able to set the fastest time of the session with a time of 2:04.396. As he approached turn 13 with less than nine minutes to go on his out lap, he was nearly thrown up and out of his seat but he too used the run-off area to recover swiftly.
More issues for Dovizioso during FP4
Dovizioso once again had to pull up at the side of the track as he again had issues with his Ducati as the session came to an end. He was met by Aleix Espargaro who also required a tow back to the pits.
Then Pedrosa crashed out at turn one of the circuit but was able to immediately pick up his bike and get it restarted. Then, Lowes crashed again at turn two, his second crash oat that turn of the day, and he kneeled in amazement about being caught out again.
Marquez quickest heading into Qualifying
Marquez finished the session as the quickest man on track ahead of Pedrosa who was second, and Vinales was third fastest heading into Qualifying. Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was fourth quickest ahead of British rider, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) who was fifth at the end of FP4.
Qualifying 2 gets underway as Aleix Espargaro experiences third crash of the day
The first Qualifying session of the two got underway to help determine the top two who would progress through to Qualifying 2, and grid positions of the riders on the rows towards the rear of the pack.
The times from Free Practice 2 still stood which meant that Miller and Lorenzo were the two riders who would progress through to Qualifying 2 to contend for better grid positions.
Aleix Espargaro had his third crash of the day when he came off at turn one less than four minutes into the session. The Spaniard who has been having a fantastic start to the season just wasn’t haven’t the best of luck in America. The rear of his Aprilia just did not look comfortable as he tried to brake on the entry to the corner.
Baz, Miller and Lorenzo battle it out for the top two spots
Baz was briefly able to claim the top spot before Miller was once again able to go quicker, with Lorenzo again slotting in behind him. Then with nine minutes remaining, Pol Espargaro became the latest victim of turn two as the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider, tucked the front and slid out, sliding along on his bum. He was OK and quickly able to return to proceedings.
One final pit stop for the riders on the second half of the grid was the final chance to make the change that could prove vital in them finishing in the top two positions so they could later contend for a position on the front four rows. Miller was looking incredibly strong even though he was snaking the rear as he braked hard into the corners.
Baz makes a massive save as Lorenzo and Miller go through
The riders were not able to improve any further on their earlier times from FP3 due to the lack of adhesion for the tyres due to the cooler conditions, not enough to challenge for the top two spots anyway and so it was Miller and Lorenzo who progressed through to Qualifying 2.
As the session came to an end, Baz, who was challenging for a top spot made a massive save on his Ducati. After hitting the apex he nearly came off the left hand side of his Ducati but was able to regain control and prevent it from crashing… it was amazing!
Rider quickly up to pace during Qualifying 2
There was a brief break between the sessions and eventually the short 15 minute Qualifying session got underway.
Minutes into it, Marquez was able to set the fastest time of the weekend after lapping at 2:03.675. He then went on to improve further setting an amazing lap time of 2:03.042.
Movistar Yamaha teammates almost come together
Vinales and his new teammate Rossi almost came together on track at turn 19; Rossi was travelling slower than Vinales who tried to overtake around the outside, but his lap time was spoiled and Vinales expressed his anger with some vicious looking gestures aimed at his teammate. He shook
Miller and Crutchlow crash out of Q2
Miller crashed out at turn two of the track, the corner managed to catch out yet another rider as the Australian who was running well had fell victim. Then moments later, Iannone came off at turn 15 of the track; his second crash of the day. He was able to recover his bike also and return the pits again with what appeared to be uninjured.
As they began the final minute of the lap, Crutchlow came off at turn 11 of the track. He was currently in eighth when he dropped his Honda, and ran quickly to it to try and recover it so he could possibly complete another lap.
The flag went out to end Qualifying
The flag went out to end the session, but riders were still on flying laps that would still count. Lorenzo was able to bring himself up to fourth, but then Vinales came along and managed to be the first to smash through the 2:03 minute barrier setting a fast time of 2:02.87 which claimed pole… but it was only briefly.
Marquez was also displaying three red sectors, and he was riding behind Rossi who he managed to catch, and who appeared to hold him up slightly.
Despite the ‘traffic’ ahead of the Spaniard, he still managed to cross the line setting a time of 2:02.741 (not as quick as his own lap record) and he stole back pole position, and his crown as the quickest man in Austin. Rossi was actually on a quick lap and also managed to claim a front row start.
Marquez claims fifth consecutive pole at the Circuit of the Americas
Marquez will start the third round of the MotoGP season on pole at the Circuit of the Americas. The Spanish 2016 MotoGP champion has claimed every pole position each year since it was added to the calendar in 2013, and now this one makes it five. He will be joined on thr front row by Vinales in second, and Rossi who will start the race from third.
Pedrosa leads the second row in fourth ahead of the fastest rookie and independent team rider, once again, Zarco who is fifth ahead of Lorenzo who was delighted with a second row start on his Ducati. His new teammate, Dovizioso qualified seventh ahead of Crutchlow in eighth and they will be joined by rookie rider, Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech3).
The remainder of the grid as follows…
British rider, Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) secured 10th on the grid, and the two crashers Baz and Miller had to settle for 11th and 12th ahead of the third round of the season.
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) will start from 13th on the grid ahead of teammates Baz and Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing). Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) will start from 16th ahead of injured Karel Abraham (Pull & Bear Aspar Team) who fractured his ankle during FP2.
Bradley Smith has secured his best place so far aboard his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machinery; the Brit will start from 18th on the grid completing the sixth row.
Alvaro Bautista (Pull & Bear Aspar Team) will be one to watch as he will start from 19th on the grid ahead of Lowes, and the Espargaro brothers Pol and Aleix who will completed the grid; Aleix did not manage to set a Qualifying time due to his crashes.
Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Alex Rins has been declared unfit to race after he came off and fractured his wrist during Free Practice 3.