Marquez on a mission in Austin, Texas

Marquez took the lead after FP1 and FP2  at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas where the third round of the MotoGP is underway.

Marquez on a mission in Austin, Texas
Marquez on a mission in Austin - Picture: mcnews.com

Marc Marquez looked like a ‘man on a mission’ as he took to the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas setting a flying pace straight away.

The Repsol Honda rider appeared to be in ‘scuffed’ leathers as he took to the track and it was not long before he was top of the leaderboard. No-one was able to come close to his time for a while as he continued to chip away.

He finished FP1 with a time of 2:04.953 that he gained with fifteen minutes left; he was the only one to break through the 2:05 minute barrier. He was still almost three seconds slower than the best lap time at COTA when he claimed pole here in 2015 (2:02.135). The official lap record is held by Marquez which is 2:03.575; the lap record can only be set during the actual race.

Movistar Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo was able to set a few personal best times finished second overall. Lorenzo had a ‘wobble’ when he came into contact with the white line, he returned to the pits and gestured to his team that he was struggling to turn again. However he seemed more confident when he returned. His fastest lap was 2:05.208 which was just under three tenths slower than Marquez.

Big ‘high-side’ crash for Miller

Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller was the only rider to fall during FP1, with fifteen minutes to go he came off at the fast turn eighteen (before the penultimate corner). The rear of Miller’s Honda slid round causing him to ‘high-side’ and throwing him over the front of the bike which narrowly missed him. Miller was slammed to the ground and was unable to get up for a few minutes as he looked hurt; he was conscious and checked over by medics, he was able to return to the track for FP2.

Iannone on fire… literally!

Ducati rider Andrea Iannone returned to the pits at one point as the bottom of his Desmosedici GP bike was on fire. He returned to the track on his second bike and managed to finish FP1 in third ahead of Avintia Ducati rider Hector Barbera in fourth what was the fastest independent rider after FP1.

Barbera was followed by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati), and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha). Aspar Team MotoGP Ducati rider Yonny Hernandez looked almost reckless on track as he struggled to register a lap time after running off the track several times; he was one rider who was penalised for overuse of the track.

Is Hernandez in control?

At one point he came rather close to the rear of Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, he may have clipped the back of the Spaniard as he ran off track at turn thirteen; Pedrosa was definitely aware of his presence and shook his hand at the Columbian in disgust after the incident. Hernandez finished in eighth ahead of Vinales who went very deep on his last lap of FP1 which meant he lost time and was unable to improve on ninth position ahead of Pedrosa in tenth.

Michelin boss provided update on tyre situation

Gavin Emmett spoke to Nicolas Goubert, Michelin, between practices who described the situation with the tyres heading into the second round at COTA. He confirmed that the ‘wet weather’ meant that they were unable to test the extra tyre that was more ‘robust’ ahead of the race. Michelin are ‘still analysing Scott’s tyre’ and they had to ‘build the tyre from scratch’ for the third round in Austin. This track requires, ‘specific compounds with construction like in Argentina’, and insisted that ‘riders will have enough of an allocation in time’ for each session before the race.

When Michelin were last manufacturers for the MotoGP class, Argentina and COTA were not included on the calendar and so Michelin knew these meetings would be ‘difficult’. He said that everyone is ‘happy’ with the soft option front however they remain ‘unsure about race distance’’ and he confirmed that riders would be ‘testing other options tomorrow’. Goubert was happy with Michelin as they ‘made a brilliant start at Qatar’ and congratulated Michelin saying it was ‘tough for the factory but they did a good job!

Marquez leads again entering FP2

Marquez made it to the track straight away followed by a train of riders who wanted to learn a thing or two from the Spaniard. The riders were all running on the soft front as the harder option was not yet available as Goubert had said the tyres had to be constructed from scratch.

Early on into FP2 Rossi went deep into turn one and ran off track, shortly after his teammate Lorenzo did the same running wide at turn two. Further round the track at turn nineteen Redding was forced to ‘sit-up’ after Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Pol Espargaro got too close for comfort; this occurred when Scott was on a flying lap and looked set to end up near the top of the timesheet.

Surprisingly Stefan Bradl made his way up to fifth fastest with half an hour to go aboard the Aprilia which is in its first MotoGP season this year. He had managed to improve his time in FP1 but 1.3seconds already.

Marquez crashed out

With twenty-seven minutes to go, Marquez had just smashed through the 2:05 minute barrier lapping at 2:04.560. Towards the end of his next lap he was due to improve this time by over 0.6 seconds however he fell off the end of the lap ending up in the gravel at turn twenty after the front end tucked in.

Marquez was probably pushing too hard when he managed to overload the front in the last corner; despite the Marshals trying to stop him, he ran across the track with his bike to get back to the pits as soon as possible creating a hazardous obstruction but was not punished for this.

Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Maverick Vinales continued to look strong and was on a flying lap when he also lacked control on the front end which forced him wide; his time still gained him second on the leaderboard despite his mistake at the end. This happened a few times for Vinales as the bike appeared to be ‘chattering’ according to former MotoGP rider now commentator Colin Edwards; he appeared to be missing the apex of a lot of corners as he slid the rear of the Suzuki around.

Third sector seems to be the part that is catching the riders out the most

Turn eleven caught Pedrosa out with seven minutes to go as he went out wide spoiling a fast lap; he stamped his foot down on his brake lever in frustration but was able to return to the track. Marquez soon returned to the track and it was not long before he managed to take 0.4 seconds off his fastest time coming closer to breaking through the 2:04 barrier.

Irishman Laverty crashed out

With just over five minutes to go Eugene Laverty crashed out at turn two at a very fast corner. He was able to get up and walk away despite sliding into the gravel trap at high speeds; the Aspar MotoGP Team Ducati catapulted which meant it was session over for the Irishman who finished in sixteenth.

FP2 session over, results were now in

The flag went out for to end FP2 and it was Marquez who remained fastest with a time of 2:04.034. He was 0.706 seconds faster than Iannone almost lost it in on the final corner of the last lap where he almost lost the rear; he finished second behind Marquez as the fastest Ducati in the field. Vinales finished in third however his lap times were not consistent but he remained the fastest Suzuki; his teammate Aleix Espargaro who finished in crashed out as the session came to an end, he was unhurt and able to remount and return to the pits on his Suzuki.

Redding’s success in FP2 was let down by his performance in the third sector, he finished fourth overall. Lorenzo finished as the fastest Yamaha in fifth ahead of teammate Rossi; Rossi’s last lap was a flying lap but this was spoiled when he went extremely wide in one corner.

Avintia Racing Team rider Loris Baz finished in seventh ahead of Pedrosa, Dovizioso and LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow. Baz’s teammate Barbera was in eleventh ahead of Danilo Petrucci’s temporary replacement Michele Pirro. The Espargaro borthers followed, Pol was just before Aleix, who led from Hernandez in fifteenth.

The fastest Aprilia was Stefan Bradl in seventeenth ahead of his teammate Alvaro Bautista ahead of an unusual nineteenth place for Bradley Smith who finished ahead of the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Miller and Tito Rabat.