Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) left his best till last at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, as the ‘Maniac’ slammed in a 2:04.599 to depose the King of COTA Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) from the top on Friday. The gap between the two was just 0.056, and Marquez also suffered a crash on Friday – rider ok. Behind the number 93, Movistar Yamaha duo of Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi completed the top four, within another couple of tenths as it tightened up at the top.
With weather looking set to change on Saturday in Austin, the end of FP2 saw a mad dash to get into the top ten and secure provisional entry to Q2 qualifying. In that rush, Iannone was the last to strike big – and win – but there was another big headline, too: Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) ending the day in P13 overall; heading for Q1 if the rain comes.
Behind the four men at the top, the timesheets remained tight and it was Championship leader Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) locking out the top five as he aims to hold onto that advantage heading back from the US. One of the men fighting him for the win last time out, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), was on his tail in P6 as the Spaniard got Texas off to a positive start – keeping compatriot Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) just behind him by a mere three hundredths.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was eighth, moving up late on in the day and securing a safe move through to Q2 if the skies changes on Saturday, with an impressive performance from Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) seeing the Spaniard take ninth, just under a tenth off the 2017 Championship runner up.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), meanwhile, completed the top ten. The three-time World Champion found FP1 tough going as he rides just over a week after surgery on a broken wrist, but was back at it in FP2. Pedrosa also put in a representative amount of laps as he tested his fitness, as well as being able to take a stunning provisional place in Q2.
So will the skies change over COTA? Will the King take back his throne on Saturday? Or will the competition get even closer as we count down to Round 3… Qualifying begins on Day 2 from 14:10 local time (GMT -5) as the grid gets decided for a rodeo with a difference.
As the times tumbled from FP1, Miguel Oliveira continued his perfect start to the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas as the Portuguese rider consolidated his place at the top of the standings in FP2 with a 2:.11.104 to go fastest overall. Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) put in his best lap at the end of the session to finish the day in P2 and just, 0.021 was the gap splitting the two KTM riders at the front.
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was a close third on the combined times, the Spaniard also improving his time late on to get within 0.069 seconds of Oliveira’s time – a good day for the number 73, who ended both sessions less than a tenth off the top. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was also right in the hunt throughout, setting his best time mid-way through FP2 and, ending the day P4 – could a front row start is certainlybe on the cards for the 2016 Moto3™ World Champion?
The ever impressive and improving rookie Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) leaped into fifth position on his last lap of the day – his time just 0.346 seconds off provisional pole. Below the Spaniard, sixth to tenth on the combined times were split by less than a tenth of a second. Isaac Viñales (SAG Team) was a solid sixth, with Swiss Innovative Investors rider Iker Lucuona seventh, Hector Barbera (Pons HP 40) eighth, Championship leader Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) ninth after mechanical problems in FP1 and Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) rounding out the top ten.
Championship protagonists Franceso Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) were 12th and 13th respectively, and will be looking to move forward on Saturday.
There were two crashes late on for both the Tech 3 Racing riders, with Bo Bendsneyder and Remy Gardner falling but. Bboth riders were ok.
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) went fastest on Friday at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, topping both sessions on Day 1 but leaving it late in the day to strike on his final lap in FP2. Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), the Championship leader, was second quickest and the man who lost out to Martin’s scorching last lap, with Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) completing the top three – only 0.004 down on Canet.
After a dusty first session, FP2 saw times tumble by more than two seconds as more rubber got laid down. But as Martin remained top, so too did Argentina GP winner Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP) retain his presence in the top echelons, taking P4. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing), who took his maiden podium in Qatar, completed the top five.
Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) was sixth quickest as Italians showed some serious pace in the top ten, just ahead of German rider Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) and another Italian in the form of Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse). Livio Loi (Reale Avintia Academy) took P9 after some trouble in FP1, with the top ten completed by an impressive sophomore performance from Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing).
Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) was quickest rookie overall and was well within the top ten in FP1 before ending the day in P15.
There weren’t a lot of incidents on Day 1 but one high profile crash saw Mugello winner Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) take a high-speed tumble, rider ok.
Moto3™ get back out for FP3 on Saturday morning, before qualifying and the fight for pole from 12:35 local time (GMT -5).
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