Photography by Andrea Wilson
AUSTIN, TEXAS, APR. 19 - As expected, the man who led the first-ever MotoGP test at the Circuit of The Americas a month ago came out firing today in the first-ever official practice session at the facility in advance of Sunday’s debut Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas. That man is MotoGP rookie Marc Marquez.
The young Spaniard ended up .253 of a second quicker than World Champion Jorge Lorenzo after the first 45-minute session, but some 4.9 slower than his best lap from the test as cold track temperatures meant much slower lap times.
"It feels like the first day when we were here for testing, the track has very little grip, so this morning I was just finding my rhythm and learning the lines again!" Marquez said. "There's not much more to say! The times were slow but I think this afternoon's free practice will be better."
Yamaha’s Lorenzo was the only one even close to Marquez as his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa ended up third fastest, but 1.6 seconds behind. The top 10 were separated by four seconds as the majority of the riders spend the session learning their way around the complicated 3.5-mile circuit on a sunny but brisk Texas morning.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso was fourth fastest with his teammate Nicky Hayden ending up fifth – the Ducati pairing somewhat of a surprise since they hadn’t tested here with the factory Honda and Yamaha teams. Hayden, however, did spend a few days here riding a Ducati Panigale 1198 R during the worldwide press introduction of the new bike a few weeks ago.
Behind the two Ducatis came Valentino Rossi, the multi-time World Champion just over two seconds slower than Marquez in the session. Rossi led Go & Fun Honda’s Alvaro Bautista, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow and Stefan Bradl, the LCR Honda rider also one of the five who tested here.
Ignite Pramac Racing Ducati’s Ben Spies rounded out the top 10 with Fellow Texan Colin Edwards completing the first session in 14th.
Attack Performance Racing’s Blake Young and fellow Wild Card Michael Barnes were at the bottom of the list with neither rider completing many laps.
Friday Free Practice 1
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 2:08.756
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:09.009
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:10.356
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 2:10.665
5. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:10.801
6. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:10.828
7. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2:10.910
8. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2:11.232
9. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:11.929
10. Ben Spies (Ducati) 2:12.813