Photography by Gold & Goose
AUSTIN, TEXAS, APRIL 19 - Turns out that the pre-practice predictions were correct: If you weren’t at the Circuit of The Americas a month ago for the test, you were going to your hands full keeping up with those who did test. After the first day of practice at the new and highly technical racetrack, the five who tested here were the five at the top of the timesheets.
And the man who led the test led today’s first official practice sessions at CoTA: Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. After leading this morning’s session, Marquez backed that up with the fastest time in this afternoon’s session – and he did so with a lap that was 3.75 seconds faster than his earlier effort, thanks mainly to a track that featured more heat and thus more grip. Marquez’ best was a 2:05.031.
Marquez led his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa by a tick over half a second as they finished in the same order as they did at the test: one-two. And with LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl third, the superiority the Hondas showed at the CoTA test seems to be continuing.
“It's been a very positive first day," Marquez said. "We took the top time and, even though these are only practice sessions, this is important. I think that the key to this Grand Prix is that day-after-day, session-by-session, the grip levels will improve. We have to be aware of this and also to the temperatures - which vary a lot, with much more heat in the afternoon than in the morning. We need to find which tire works best for every session, and above all we will be working with the race in mind. Let's see if tomorrow we can continue along the same upward path.”
The first non-Honda was the factory Yamaha of Jorge Lorenzo, the defending World Champion 1.6 seconds off Marquez’ best and some .2 better than his teammate Valentino Rossi.
The first of the non-testers was Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow, the Brit the final rider in the 2:06s with his 2:06.868. Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso was next, followed by Go & Fun Honda’s Alvaro Bautista, Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and Pramac Ducati’s Ben Spies. Dovizioso lost a lot of time in the session when his Ducati failed him near the end of the backstraight.
Colin Edwards ended the day in 23rd with the two Wild Cards, Blake Young and Michael Barnes 25th and 26th, respectively.
Friday Practice 2
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 2:05.031
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:05.585
3. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:06.173
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:06.637
5. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:06.868
6. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2:06.899
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 2:06.236
8. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2:07.256
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:07.699
10. Ben Spies (Ducati) 2:08.034