motogp.com - Márquez démarre fort à Austin / Austin form continues for Marquez
Marc Márquez a sans surprise été le pilote le plus rapide des essais libres MotoGP™ de vendredi à Austin.
Invaincu au Circuit des Amériques depuis 2013, date de la première venue du MotoGP™ au Texas, Marc Márquez (Repsol Honda Team) a aisément dominé la première séance d’essais libres du week-end et a signé le meilleur temps en 2’04.953, terminant à un peu plus de secondes du record qu’il avait établi l’an dernier en qualifications en 2’02.145.
Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) a été le seul pilote à pouvoir s’approcher de Márquez mais finissait quand même à 0.255s de son compatriote tandis qu’Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) et Héctor Barberá (Avintia Racing) s’installaient aux troisième et quatrième positions, en étant respectivement à six et sept dixièmes de seconde du leader.
Cinquième, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) accusait pour sa part une seconde de retard sur le chrono de référence et devançait Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) et Yonny Hernández (Aspar MotoGP Team). Ce dernier était le cinquième pilote Ducati d’un Top 10 que complétaient Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) et Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team).
Aleix Espargaró (Team Suzuki Ecstar) et son frère cadet Pol (Monster Yamaha Tech3) ont respectivement inscrit les onzième et douzième temps.
Le Français Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) a de son côté eu du mal à trouver son rythme et a conclu en 19e position, devant Michele Pirro, qui remplace Danilo Petrucci chez Octo Pramac Yakhnich, et Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS). Violemment retombé sur l’asphalte suite à highside, l’Australien a été conduit au centre médical pour se faire examiner.
Once again it was Marc Marquez who set the pace in Free Practice 1 in Texas, the Spaniard leading the way from Lorenzo and Iannone.
MotoGP™ riders roared into action for Free Practice 1 at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas under a glorious Texas sun. There were a number of developments before the session even began, Valentino Rossi’s (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) second machine was fitted with the fuel filler in the rear. Yamaha had experimented with this towards the end of 2015 and throughout the 2016 pre-season, but ruled it unnecessary after Michelin improved the front tyre. By shifting the filler cap to the rear of the bike and thus moving the fuel tank itself back slightly, the weight of the bike is shifted towards the rear.
Both the Desmosedici GP machines in the Ducati Team were boasting double winglets once again, the Circuit of the Americas a circuit with many heavy acceleration areas. One function of the Ducati winglets is to help stop the bike from wheelieing, which often occurs under heavy acceleration.
Although the sun was beating down, the track was not yet quite up to temperature and riders started the session on the softer option tyres.
Unsurprisingly it was Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) who topped the session, the Spaniard having won every race at the Circuit of the Americas from pole and has rarely missed topping a session. The factory Honda man was the only rider able to lap in the 2’04s, setting a 2’04.953 to lead by over a quarter of a second. Marquez also debuted a new set of bigger winglets on his Honda during his final run.
Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was second and the only rider able to get within half a second of Marquez. This is almost an ideal start to the weekend for Lorenzo as both he and Yamaha have classically had huge difficulties at the Austin track.
Making it three different manufacturers in the top three was Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) on the Ducati. A 2’05.570 saw him 0.617s back on Marquez and 0.362s behind Lorenzo. Iannone had a slight technical problem towards the end of the session, the Italian’s bike smoking from the belly pan due to a small fire, a result of the fairing being too close to the exhaust. His team quickly dealt with the problem and he was able to return to track soon after.
Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) rounded out the top five and made it three Ducatis in the top five. The Italian machine has classically gone well at COTA, the heavy acceleration zones handled with ease by the grunt of the Bologna made engine. Barbera was one of only three riders able to get within a second of Marquez, Dovizioso 1.079s behind.
Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP), Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) made up the top ten. There were a total of five Ducati machines inside the top ten, the most of any manufacturer.
There was a heavy high-side for Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) at Turn 18. He was taken to the circuit medical centre for further checks on his feet during the session. There were no breaks found in Miller’s foot and he plans to head back out for FP2.
Full results from the first practice session are available here.
The MotoGP™ World Championship will be back out on track for FP2 at 14:05 Local Time.