Andrea Iannone created a surprise on Friday at the Circuit of the Americas by topping the practice timesheets. The Suzuki rider edged out overwhelming favourite Marc Marquez in the closing stages of FP2 to finish the opening day on top with both factory Yamaha riders close behind in third and fourth.
Much of the pre-race build-up had centred around the two arch-rivals from Argentina and FP1 followed the script with Marquez and Valentino Rossi locking out the top two spots on a dirty track first thing this morning. Although conditions would improve later in the day, the circuit remained seriously low in grip throughout with times half a second slower than the corresponding session last year.
Although Iannone had shown promising pace at times, his table-topping 2:04.599 came somewhat out of the blue in the closing stages of FP2 as many riders aimed to secure a Q2 spot, mindful of the poor weather forecast for Saturday morning. Marquez, who had led the way virtually all day prior to the Italian’s improvement, would close proceedings in second spot following a crash at turn 11.
Maverick Vinales looked as comfortable as he has at any stage so far this season, securing third overall ahead of his team-mate Rossi, while championship leader Cal Crutchlow looks certain to reach Q2 automatically after going fifth quickest. Alex Rins was sixth on the second Suzuki ahead of factory Ducati pair Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso while Aleix Espargaro was the day’s other big surprise package, taking his Aprilia into the top ten in ninth.
The final provisional Q2 spot is held by Dani Pedrosa with the Spaniard riding through the pain barrier to take tenth, just two weeks after breaking his wrist in Argentina.
2018 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas: (Friday Practice)
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