Top two in the wet, top two in the dry – Honda and Ducati dominate the top 10, with Quartararo well in the mix in Austin
Fastest in the wet, fastest in the dry – Day 1 at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas firmly belonged to Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), but Ducati Lenovo Team’s Jack Miller is a very close second heading into qualifying day. Marquez’ 2:04.164 was only 0.015s faster than the Australian’s effort, with World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) claiming third.
Marc Marquez vs Miller, Honda and Ducati dominate Day 1
After a damp opening Free Practice session on Friday morning, dry conditions greeted the premier class riders in the afternoon sun as we got ourselves set for a crucial 45 minutes. Wet weather is forecast to disrupt qualifying day, so FP2 could well decide who is heading into Q2 automatically.
Immediately, Captain America set the pace. Six-time COTA winner Marc Marquez was half a second clear of Miller after 20 minutes of dry track time, with just seven riders within a second of the number 93 in the early stages. Miller then cut Marquez’ advantage to 0.123s with just under 15 minutes to go, as soft Michelin tyres were then fitted for a mini Friday afternoon qualifying stint.
Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas: MotoGP™ FP1
Second in the title race Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) were the first riders to beat Marquez’ time, the Japanese rider the faster of the two, as Miller then went P2 ahead of teammate Pecco. An Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) crash at Turn 18 and a Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) tumble at Turn 12 then brought out the yellow flags for a brief period, meaning plenty of lap times were cancelled – both riders were ok.
Quartararo then shot to P1 by over two tenths before Marc Marquez – after slipping to the lower ends of the top 10 – returned to first place. Miller threatened to take top spot honours away from Marquez but the Aussie’s final lap was just shy – 0.015s separating the duo at the end of play.
A what could be crucial top 10
Behind the leading trio is Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team), the Spaniard looking good in both wet and dry conditions at COTA, and with Nakagami fifth, it’s a very promising opening day for Honda. Bagnaia is in the mix in P6, the Italian just under half a second away from Marquez’ time, with Pramac Racing pair Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco seventh and eighth respectively. 2019 Austin winner Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Misano podium finisher Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) complete a top 10 covered by 0.6s.
Eyes to the skies…
It looks like rain is on the way ahead of FP3 in Austin, so that top 10 could be the automatic Q2 qualifiers. Marc Marquez is fastest in both the wet and the dry, however, Miller is on the Sheriff’s case.
From Sheriff to Judge: Marquez talks title fight
Tune into MotoGP™ FP3 at 09:55 local time (GMT-5) on Saturday morning!
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – 2:04.164
2. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.015
3. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.202
4. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.388
5. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.448
6. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.499
7. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 0.513
8. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.559
9. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.638
10. Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) + 0.672