Photography by Gold & Goose
AUSTIN, TX, APRIL 12 – Although Marc Marquez continues to lead the way heading into today’s qualifying session for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, the rest of the field made a little progress in catching up during this morning’s practice session.
Marquez turned up the heat a bit more, the World Champion ripping off a 2:03.046 to better his pole position lap from a season ago. But while he led the second-placed Andrea Dovizioso by a tick over a second yesterday, the top five were within a second of the championship leader on a cloudy morning on the outskirts of Austin.
This time it was LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl’s turn to get the closest to Marquez, the German .745 of a second off the Repsol Honda rider’s pace. Then came the second Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa with Dovizioso slipping to fourth this morning.
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith ended the morning fifth, the final rider to lap in the 2:03s with the young Brit .917 of a second behind Marquez. Yesterday Smith was 10th and 1.8 seconds behind Marquez.
Pramac Ducati’s Andrea Iannone finished the session in sixth, the Open class rider taking full advantage of the softer compound Bridgestones. Seventh went to Jorge Lorenzo, the Movistar Yamaha rider improving to 2:04.175 – 1.12 seconds behind Marquez and gaining some .3 of a second over yesterday’s gap to his Honda rival.
Ducati’s Cal Cruthclow ended up eighth with Smith’s Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teammate Pol Espargaro cracking into the top 10 for the first time - and he did so when it mattered most, earning him a spot in the Q1 session. The 10th and final direct transfer to Q1 went to Valentino Rossi on the second Movistar Yamaha.
American Nicky Hayden ended up 14th after running into machine woes early in the session. Texan Colin Edwards is 16th heading into this afternoon’s qualifying sessions.
Free Practice 3
Circuit of the Americas
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 2:03.046
2. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:03.791
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:03.934
4. Andrea Dovisioso (Ducati) 2:03.939
5. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 2:03.963
6. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 2:04.104
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:04.175
8. Cal Crutchlow (Ducati) 2:04.217
9. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 2:04.280
10. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:04.311