Things got pretty hot in Texas in qualifying for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, with drama first striking as reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took a tumble at Turn 13 and was heading back to the garage on the back of a scooter as his rivals started to threaten his provisional pole. But the number 93 was able to get back out, and set a sixth pole position at the Circuit of the Americas – closely followed by the man who seems set to try and challenge him on Sunday, Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). It wasn’t done there, however…
Viñales, after an impressive show of race pace earlier in the day in FP4, came across a slower-moving Marquez on his first flyer on his second run and was forced to abandon the lap. Nevertheless, the Spaniard set the second quickest lap on a final push – and he’ll be starting from pole. After the incident between the two men was investigated by the FIM MotoGP™ Stewards, Marquez was given a three-place grid penalty and will therefore actually start from fourth.
Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – another man who has been key competition for Marquez in practice – set the third fastest lap and will be starting from the front row and now second place, with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) bumped back onto the front row to make it seven races in the row the Frenchman has lined up there.
He had Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) for very close company on the timesheets; the Italian just 0.019 back and now starting fifth, next to Marquez now heading up Row 2. And it was just as tight for sixth and the final spot on the second row, as Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) was only another 0.065 in arrears behind the ‘Doctor’. Three men certain to attack right from lights out, with 20 World Championships between them.
Championship leader Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) took seventh as he aims to keep his points lead on Sunday, and he’s just ahead of the man chasing him in the standings, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) – who’s won off the third row before.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) completes that star-studded Row 3. The three-time World Champion is racing only a week and a bit after surgery on a broken wrist sustained in the Argentina GP, and not only gained direct entry to Q2, but took a third row start in another superhuman effort.
Q1 graduate Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing), Argentina GP podium finisher Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completed the top twelve – with Espargaro having put in a stunner to come through Q1 and get KTM’s first visit to Q2 this season. Thereafter, however, the KTM rider was also given a three-place grid penalty, meaning Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) will start P12.
It’s set up to be a stunner, with Viñales up top and Rossi and Marquez gunning from Row 2. Iannone already called it on Friday: “Anything is possible!”
Tune in for the Americas GP at 14:00 local time (GMT -5) on Sunday.
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was on fine form in Moto2™ qualifying at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, taking his second pole position of the season on board his Kalex machine, with the former lightweight class World Champion over three tenths clear for the majority of the session. Only second place qualifier Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) was able to get ahead of Marquez at any point during the session, however, the number 73 then came out for his final run to beat Lowes’ 2:10.744 by 0.156 seconds.
Lowes returns to Moto2™ this year from the premier class, and starts on the front row for the first time since Phillip Island 2016 – can the Brit repeat his 2015 win at the Circuit of the Americas, his first GP victory? World Championship leader Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) was the only other man to get under the 2:11.000 bracket, his time of 2:10.993 on his final run was enough for him to grab third on the grid. Qatar race winner and Sky Racing Team VR46 rider Francesco Bagnaia will start from fourth on the grid, the Italian consistently in the top six throughout the session and looked set to join the front row on his final lap until a small mistake cost him.
The fastest rookie yet again was reigning Moto3™ World Champion Joan Mir, who claimed fifth place on the grid – his best Moto2™ qualifying by 12 places. Rounding out the second row was the impressive Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46), his sixth place is also his best qualifying of the year so far.
Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP), fresh from his Argentina podium, spearheads the third row of the grid in seventh, with his teammate Marcel Schrötter a slender 0.019 behind him in eighth. Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up Racing) was able to get himself into the top ten late on, he’ll start ninth ahead of Isaac Viñales (SAG Team) in tenth.
Friday’s quickest man Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) had to settle for P12 after a more difficult session.
Tune in for the Moto2™ race at the COTA on Sunday, with the lights going out at 12:20 local time (GMT -5).
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) set his tenth pole position on Saturday at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, with a drying track seeing late switches to slicks throughout the field and the Spaniard coming out on top by an impressive 0.496. He was ahead of Championship leader and key rival Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), with John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) completing the front row as the Brit blasted up the timesheets and was top KTM.
The session began on wets before the rain began to abate and the first man to try slicks was a brave Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) – initially over six seconds clear of the field before they caught on and headed into pitlane. But the heroics didn’t quite pay off as they did for Alma Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller in Argentina – with enough of the session remaining to allow the majority to switch.
But the grid has set us up for a stunner on Sunday, with the experienced trio at the front chased by a Row 2 featuring Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) as he gets back to full power following injury, podium finisher Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) and the ‘Beast’ Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing), expected to mount a title challenge.
Then comes a superstar performance in qualifying from rookie and reigning FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Champion Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) in seventh, ahead of former Asia Talent Cup and Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) in eighth. Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP), the Argentina GP winner, completes the third row – with Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) another rookie stunner in P10, just edging early gambler Oettl.
It’s an exciting grid for Sunday’s race, with a few names looking to mount a fight back – including Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) in P19 and Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) in P12, off the front row for the first time this year.
The lights go out for the lightweight rodeo at 11:00am local time (GMT -5).
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