Marc Marquez justified his status with many as the pre-race favourite for this weekend’s Grand Prix of the Americas by totally dominating the first practice session in Texas. The Moto2 champion was fastest throughout the private test here in March and it was easy to see why with the Spaniard looking at ease from the very first lap he completed on MotoGP’s newest circuit.
Marquez’s second lap of the morning was a 2:11.648, followed by a 2:09.927 which would have actually been good enough for second overall if he hadn’t gone any quicker. At the time, he was a full five seconds ahead of everyone else and although that gap closed substantially, there was never any doubt as to who would end the session on top.
By the time the 45 minutes were up, Marquez had lowered the benchmark to a 2:08.756 and championship leader Jorge Lorenzo was the only man capable of going with him, closing to within a quarter of a second on the Yamaha. Dani Pedrosa was a distant third, 1.6 seconds in arrears, while the Ducatis of Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden were almost two seconds off in fourth and fifth although the Bologna squad will certainly be happy with their place in the pecking order.
Valentino Rossi trailed the riders from his former team in sixth ahead of Alvaro Bautista and Cal Crutchlow while Stefan Bradl’s time spent testing here last month didn’t give him the advantage many expected as he languished back in ninth. Ben Spies was tenth, giving him the last automatic QP2 spot with two practice sessions still to go, with Bradley Smith and Andrea Iannone the two riders on prototype machinery in danger of QP1 participation.
The two rookies played their way in gently and will surely improve with Smith 13th behind CRT riders Yonny Hernandez and Claudio Corti and Iannone even further back in eighteenth. Hernandez’s performance was particularly impressive after his first bike broke down eight minutes from time, forcing him to complete the session on his spare ART.