Marc Marquez has remained ‘in charge’ as he led following FP3 at the Circuit of the Americas.
The top ten riders from FP3 automatically progress through to the second qualifying session of the MotoGP class where they will be joined by the top two riders from qualifying one, which is made up of the slower half of the field in FP3.
Previous to FP3 for the MotoGP class, it had rained during the Moto3 session but it was only a light shower and the track had dried out for the 1000cc class. It was not long before Marquez took the lead again and he continued to chip away at his own time; his bike has been modified with the addition of a new air intake at the front. Wearing a medium compound rear rather than the soft he wore previous on day one, he soon broke through the 2:03 minute barrier however was still not close to his own record set in 2015.
Iannone crashes again
Ducati rider Andrea Iannone was the first to crash out of FP3 as he lost control of his Desmosedici GP bike (sporting the two pairs of wings) at turn eleven with twenty minutes remaining. Ducati chose to remain private when he returned to the pits as they ensured the screens were up when the Italian returned.
Injury concerns for Jack Miller
Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller spent the least amount of time on track during FP3 following his accident the day before. During FP1 Miller experienced a high-side and as a result broke a bone in his right foot; however the impact re-affected the previous injury to his ankle from an accident over the winter break.
FP3 was spent surrounded by doctors analysing the Australian’s injuries, he was seen venturing around the paddock on crutches. His team manager spoke to say they were not going to encourage Miller to stay out for too long throughout the sessions during the rest of the day. News came through after FP4 that Miller had experienced a fractured fifth metatarsal and that he would not continue during the session.
Marquez fastest again during FP3
The last lap Marquez completed was the fastest of the session at 2:03.741 which secured him the lead going into qualifying; Iannone finished in second as the only other rider who was able to la below 2:04 minutes. Jorge Lorenzo finished third fastest on his Movistar Yamaha M1 followed by Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Maverick Vinales whose final lap was also his best of the session.
Towards the end of the session once again, LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow surprised the field with a fast lap gaining him fifth position ahead of Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi who has been seen sporting a small pair of the wings on the M1. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) followed Rossi in seventh position however he does not look content in Austin.
Baz fastest independent rider after FP3
The top independent rider Loris Baz finished in eighth on his Avintia Ducati ahead of Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso and Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati rider Scott Redding claimed the final spot in the top ten meaning he automatically preceded to qualifying two.
FP4 was a final chance for riders to confirm settings for qualifying on a dry track. Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Aleix Espargaro and Redding came close to contacting each other on track as they participated in their last practice session before qualifying. Redding was behind Espargaro who appeared to be getting in his way and holding up forcing Redding to react and take precarious lines.
Riders eventually caught up to the pace set in FP3 halfway through the final session. It was Redding and Rossi who had made the most improvements during this session ready to attack for the best possible grid positions in qualifying.
Intense qualifying one session
Qualifying one was as intense as ever as the fifteen minute session including everything from crashes to riders lapping their best time so far and even a race battle took place on track. Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Bradley Smith took the lead midway through the session and the fight for the top two riders (who would progress to Qualifying 2 with the fastest ten riders from FP3).
Smith battled for the top spot with his teammate Pol Espargaro, and his brother Aleix. The three continued to claim top spot. Their final laps are what counted as Smith completed his fastest time at the end of 2:04.849 which left him top of Qualifying 1; he progressed through with Aleix Espargaro who managed to beat his brother Pol.
The crash came from Danilo Petrucci’s replacement rider Michele Pirro on the Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati rider who fell off in the closing stages; he was unhurt and was able to walk away however that brought his day to an abrupt end.
The only two riders who looked close to stealing the qualifying spots from Smith and Aleix was Avintia Ducati rider Hector Barbera and Alvaro Bautista on the Aprilia. However, the two began to battle on track as they both felt their lap was more significant; they ended up spoiling their final chances to progress much to the disgrace of Barbera as waved his arms in disgust at Bautista.
The final qualifying session for the MotoGP class was underway
Qualifying 2 is only a short fifteen minute session to determine the final grid positions ahead of the race at COTA in Texas. Lorenzo was determined to spoil Marquez’s reign at the top and was successful momentarily as he set the fastest lap of 2:03.613. Marquez soon returned from the pits to retaliate, carving 0.425 seconds of the 2015 MotoGP Champions time which left 1.167 seconds between Marquez who now led and Rossi who was in third.
Comparing styles of the top two Lorenzo seemed so neat in comparison to that of the leader Marquez who almost seemed to be lacking control of his Honda; however he was able to achieve something that his teammate and LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow was able to do as they struggled to turn their machines.
Final grid positions detemined; Marquez claims pole
The chequered flag went out as Marquez lost time on the final sector again which prevented on him extended the lead with his time which was now confirmed as pole position. Lorenzo remained in second position ahead of his teammate Rossi who completed the front row for the third round at the Circuit of the Americas.
Leading the second row was Iannone ahead of a very unhappy Vinales who seemed very disappointed in his final grid position. British rider Crutchlow finished in sixth, completing the second row and claiming the highest place on the grid out of all the independent riders.
Dovizioso led the third row ahead of Dani Pedrosa and Aleix Espargaro who continued to look strong following successfully progressing from qualifying one. Redding was ahead of Smith and Baz the fourth row completing.
The results from qualifying one meant that Pol Espargaro led the fifth row in thirteenth position ahead of Barbera and Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team MotoGP) who finished as the top independent rider in Argentina. Bradl finished sixteenth ahead of Pirro and Yonny Hernandez (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati). Bautista finished at the front of the last row in nineteenth ahead of Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and the last position on the grid will remain empty as Rabat’s teammate is unable to race in tomorrow’s round at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas. Like Lorenzo said, “Who knows what will happen after 21 laps!”