First two MotoGP™ practice sessions took on an extra importance as rain is predicted to play a major part over the weekend at the #AmericasGP. This meant that riders not only had an opportunity to collect vital data in the wet conditions for their teams, but also had one eye on making it through to Q2.
In FP1 it was the Ducati Team GP15 of Dovizioso who had set the fastest time, just beating Marc Marquez into second as the session ended, with the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Honda of Scott Redding finishing in an impressive 3rd.
It was all change for FP2, with the track drying and the rain holding off it gave riders a chance to head out and attempt to set what could be their fastest lap of the two days of practice. The time’s from FP2 might be very important, as with more rain forecast for tomorrow they could decide who makes it through to the second qualifying session on Saturday.
Riders initially headed out on wet tyres to get a feel for the track conditions, but came back in to switch to slicks as the racing line began to dry with about 20 minutes to go. This led to a frantic end to proceedings, as riders attempted to take advantage of what could be the only dry session of the weekend.
Repsol Honda’s Marquez was the only rider to break the 2’05 barrier, as he set a 2’04.835 to finish three-tenths ahead of the CWM LCR Honda of Cal Crutchlow (+0.327s) who is benefitting from a chassis and seat upgrade to his RC213V in Austin, and was the fastest of the Satellite riders.
Completing the provisional front row was the Ducati Team GP15 of Andrea Iannone (+0.355s). Seven-tenths back from Marquez was Aleix Espargaro (+0729s) on the Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR in 4th, with Andrea Dovizioso (+0.811s) in 5th on the second Factory Ducati. Valentino Rossi (+0.856s), the man who rolled back the years to claim the race win in Qatar, ended the day in 6th on the leading Yamaha.
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith crashed out during the session but was unhurt, while Stefan Bradl (+1.155s) was the leading Open class rider in 8th place.
Moto2™ was struck by delays at the beginning of FP1 due to track conditions on a tricky day at the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas for all the classes. The sun came out for the second session, allowing riders to run slick tyres throughout the session. Rain is predicted for both Saturday and Sunday.
Tito Rabat, the current Moto2™ champion has been eager to improve his riding in the rain, and got his chance during FP1. Last year he felt that this was his greatest weakness; he finished third on the opening day of practice at Austin with crashes in FP1 and FP2.
The first practice of the day for Moto3™ was delayed by almost an hour. When action did get underway it was a wet affair, with Texas not quite living up to its reputation for sun and heat. It looks as though the rain will stay for the majority of the weekend, which could cause some interesting results come race day.
All riders improved their times in Free Practice 2 as the sun came out and the track began to dry. This is the first year that Austin has had a wet session and the track showed that it dried quickly. If there is only a morning shower tomorrow, there may still be a chance of dry Qualifying.
A 2’31.668 had Niccolo Antonelli leading the way in FP1, putting him comfortably at the top of the session. As conditions improved in the afternoon the Italian was pushing to claim the top spot before falling at Turn 12. He is having a much better year on the Honda and will be one to watch in Qualifying.
Andrea Locatelli of the Gresini Racing Team Moto3 had a strong opening day in America. The young Italian was third in FP1 and was challenging for the top spot in FP2 from early in the session. A 1’29.305 saw him finish second in combined times, just being beaten on the last lap by Masbou.
Much like last time out in Qatar, Danny Kent impressed on his Leopard Racing Honda. The British rider improved his FP1 time by over a second in FP2 as the track dried quickly, putting in a 2’29.843 before sitting out the second half of the session. Kent helped to complete a top five lock out for Honda.
Championship leader Alexis Masbou was down in14th during FP1 before improving on his final lap of FP2 to go first. A 1’29.267 put him just 0.038s clear of Locatelli in second. The experienced French rider is on a strong run of form after claiming pole and a win at Qatar.