Marc Marquez’s dominance of the Grand Prix of the Americas continued with another scintillating performance on Friday afternoon in Texas. The rookie was half a second ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa and 1.6 seconds clear of the leading Yamaha as Stefan Bradl completed a Honda lockout of the top three places.
After conditions that Andrea Dovizioso described as “dangerous” and Bradley Smith as akin to “a wet track” in FP1, it was no surprise to see the times tumble with Marquez the man to beat throughout. He was briefly headed by Jorge Lorenzo but that simply triggered a response that will have seen heads drop at Yamaha with Marquez going almost two seconds faster than the championship leader at the time.
That lead would shrink slightly but the opening day at COTA belonged to Marquez and the 20 year old is expecting the track to get significantly quicker as the weekend continues.
“It’s been a very positive first day. We took the top time and, even though these are only practice sessions, this is important. I think that the key to this Grand Prix is that day-after-day, session-by-session, the grip levels will improve. We have to be aware of this and also to the temperatures – which vary a lot, with much more heat in the afternoon than in the morning. We need to find which tyre works best for every session, and above all we will be working with the race in mind. Let’s see if tomorrow we can continue along the same upward path”.
Lorenzo and Rossi were fourth and fifth ahead of Cal Crutchlow, the first rider not to have had the benefit of a pre-season test here, while Andrea Dovizioso led the Ducati challenge in seventh. Alvaro Bautista, Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies complete the current top ten in the combined times with Bradley Smith and Andrea Iannone looking likely to be forced into the first qualifying session on Saturday, the rookies ending the day in thirteenth and fifteenth respectively. Randy de Puniet split the two in fourteenth and the Frenchman was lucky to escape uninjured from a crash at turn nineteen.