Marc Marquez wasted no time making himself at home at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, setting the fastest time in Friday practice ahead of the U.S. Grand Prix. Cal Crutchlow had been the man to beat in the morning but Marquez came to the fore when the temperatures increased, going two tenths faster than Stefan Bradl and Andrea Dovizioso with Crutchlow relegated to fourth.
The first session passed off without incident but there was trouble late in FP2 when wildcard rider Blake Young crashed spectacularly exiting turn six with the APR machine coming to rest in the middle of the track, bringing out the red flags. Marquez had lowered his own benchmark time to a 1:22.040 before the stoppage though and the late dash once the circuit was cleared would decide who would take second overnight. Bradl eventually won that particular battle although Dovizioso produced a tremendous lap to go third, just a quarter of a second off the pace with Crutchlow leading a trio of Yamahas completing the top six.
The main focus on Friday was the fitness of the championship’s two big favourites as Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa returned to action. Both suffered injuries which ruled them out of the Sachsenring and Jorge, six days after having a second plate inserted into his shoulder, fared the best to take sixth behind his teammate Valentino Rossi.
“It was much better this afternoon”, commented Lorenzo. “I tried to improve step by step like I did in my first time in MotoGP here to try to minimize the risk and understand the limit of the track. Every lap it got better and better, but obviously the pain is there. I felt a little better than this morning but not so much, after seven laps it started to be difficult to brake. I struggled a lot in braking but still we were able to practice without painkillers, this is very positive because with the painkiller we will get some benefits. The bike is working really well, we are just losing some tenths in some braking points where we cannot push too hard. The balance of the day is pretty good considering my physical condition.”
Pedrosa had a much tougher mountain to climb and opted to sit out FP1 altogether to rest his body. When he did emerge onto the race track, the Spaniard took his time getting up to speed and eventually improved to eleventh which would force him into the first qualifying session should he fail to move up on Saturday morning. Speaking after the session, Dani’s comments were those of a rider in damage limitation mode.
“It was difficult to ride in my condition, but I had expected that. Now I have to try to rest up as much as possible for tomorrow and regain some energy, so that I can endure the pain once again. Being realistic, obviously winning the race this weekend is not a feasible goal – perhaps even getting a podium is out of the equation – but I will be trying to finish the race as high up the order as possible. I will look to minimise the advantage that my rivals will have in terms of points. Finally, I want to thank everyone who has sent their support to me in recent days for their messages”.
With Dani down the order, the top ten is currently completed by Aleix Espargaro, Alvaro Bautista, Nicky Hayden in his final Laguna Seca appearance for the factory Ducati squad, and Bradley Smith. Pedrosa was followed closely by a pair of CRTs with Hector Barbera and Randy de Puniet set to challenge for a Q2 spot tomorrow while Alex De Angelis finished the day in fourteenth on the sole Pramac Ducati, standing in for Ben Spies and Michele Pirro who are both unavailable for contrasting reasons.
|Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix: Combined Practice Times (Top 10 Automatically Qualify For Q2)|
|1||Marc Marquez||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||1:22.040|
|2||Stefan Bradl||Honda||LCR Honda MotoGP||1:22.269|
|3||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati||Ducati Team||1:22.284|
|4||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||1:22.346|
|5||Cal Crutchlow||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||1:22.457|
|6||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||1:22.467|
|7||Aleix Espargaro||ART||Power Electronics Aspar||1:22.531|
|8||Alvaro Bautista||Honda||GO&FUN Honda Gresini||1:22.539|
|9||Nicky Hayden||Ducati||Ducati Team||1:22.733|
|10||Bradley Smith||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||1:22.767|
|11||Dani Pedrosa||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||1:23.129|
|12||Hector Barbera||FTR||Avintia Blusens||1:23.158|
|13||Randy de Puniet||ART||Power Electronics Aspar||1:23.437|
|14||Alex de Angelis||Ducati||Ignite Pramac Racing||1:23.973|
|15||Danilo Petrucci||Ioda Suter||Came IodaRacing Project||1:24.047|
|16||Claudio Corti||FTR Kawasaki||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||1:24.180|
|17||Colin Edwards||FTR Kawasaki||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||1:24.410|
|18||Karel Abraham||ART||Cardion AB Motoracing||1:24.421|
|19||Hiroshi Aoyama||FTR||Avintia Blusens||1:24.473|
|20||Yonny Hernandez||ART||Paul Bird Motorsport||1:24.555|
|21||Michael Laverty||PBM||Paul Bird Motorsport||1:24.727|
|22||Bryan Staring||FTR Honda||GO&FUN Honda Gresini||1:25.345|
|23||Blake Young||APR||Attack Performance Racing||1:25.764|
|24||Lukas Pesek||FTR||Came Ioda Racing Project||1:27.173|