MotoGP moved north across the Americas to arrive at the sweeping and fast undulations of COTA in Austin, Texas and the sixth Grand Prix to take place at the epic facility for what is the third round of nineteen in 2018. On a grey and occasionally damp day of Free Practice and Qualification both Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith worked through some tricky conditions and across a bumpy and demanding track to refine the set-up of the KTM RC16 for the 20 lap distance starting at 21.00 CET tomorrow.
With his last attempt of the Q1 period Espargaro posted a 2.05.1 lap-time to earn his first passage into Q2 this year by less than a tenth of a second from Danilo Petrucci. Smith was not far away. On his second run the Brit logged a 2.05.7 for a decent 15th position and his highest Saturday classification of the season.
“FP4 went great and the first couple of sectors were good but I did not leave enough space and did not expect to catch (Jack) Miller so easily. I made a couple of mistakes as well but I’m pleased with 15th and we’re a team so it was OK for Pol to ‘use’ me a couple of times out there: it is about time that we got into Q2. 15th is my best qualification this year and on race pace in FP4 we looked solid. We just need to keep that up for tomorrow. I think the grip is coming on this race track and this meant we could push forward more.”
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