Photography by Gold & Goose
AUSTIN, TEXAS, APR. 20 - Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa showed that he’s still got plenty of fight in him as he put in a fast lap at the end of the final free practice session at the Circuit of The Americas to vault him into the top spot heading into this afternoon’s final practice in advance of the all-important Qualifying 2 session.
Pedrosa’s best lap of 2:04.408 displaced his highly touted teammate Marc Marquez from the top spot for the first time this weekend. Marquez started out on top, but then had a big crash just minutes into the session in turn 19. The MotoGP rookie lost the front on corner entry and it turned into a vicious highside, the young Spaniard slow to get to his feet and then limping off the track.
But he showed that crashing doesn’t slow him much as he quickly went back to the top of the leaderboard on his backup bike with a 2:04.795 – a spot he held until Pedrosa’s final run. Still, Marquez ended up second - .387 of a second behind Pedrosa. There's one more practice session before this afternoon’s Q2 that will feature the top 12 riders (the top 10 from this session automatically go to Q2 with the top two from Q1 joining them).
Despite also having a big moment in the session, Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo ended up third with his best also coming at the end. Still, he’s .887 of a second behind Pedrosa which must be a bit worrying for the World Champion and current championship points leader.
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow continues to impress with the Brit lapping at 2:06.630 for the fourth fastest time and ahead of two riders who tested here a month ago - Stefan Bradl and Valentino Rossi. Bradl ended up fifth with Rossi seventh.
Sandwiched between the two was the first of the factory Ducatis ridden by Andrea Dovizioso. Dovi was the last rider in the 2:05s.
Behind Rossi in eight was Go & Fun Honda’s Alvaro Bautista.
Then came Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies, the two Americans rounding out the top 10.
No such luck, however, for Bradley Smith, the young Brit ending up 12th on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha.
Colin Edwards ended the session in 21st – three spots better than Wild Card Blake Young. Michael Barnes ended up dead last in 26th place.
Free Practice 3
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:04.408
2. Marc Marquez (Honda) 2:04.795
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:05.295
4. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2:05.630
5. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:05.908
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 2:05.963
7. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:06.173
8. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2:06.300
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:06.622
10. Ben Spies (Ducati) 2:06.862