Marc Marquez finished atop the timesheets on his first day of practice at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ahead of this weekend’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. The Repsol Honda Team rider and championship leader led Stefan Bradl and Andrea Dovizioso, while the injured Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa finished sixth and eleventh quickest.
There was a dramatic improvement in conditions between the two Friday sessions. Following a cool and misty start to the day when Cal Crutchlow had finished fastest for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, the sun came out in the afternoon as Marquez registered 1’22.040 on his first ride at the notoriously tricky Californian circuit.
Second-placed Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) was two tenths of a second slower than Marquez, with Dovizioso (Ducati Team) just fractions further adrift. The first group of five was rounded out by Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing) and the aforementioned Crutchlow, while leading CRT runner Aleix Espargaro again impressed by ending the day seventh for Power Electronics Aspar.
Both reigning title holder Lorenzo and erstwhile championship leader Pedrosa, who both missed last weekend’s German GP through injury, passed medical check-ups on Friday. Lorenzo went on to finish second practice in a creditable sixth spot, while Pedrosa elected to sit out the first session before ending proceedings 11th in the second, but complaining of much pain in his left shoulder.
There was a stoppage of just under 20 minutes during the afternoon period, as American wildcard entry Blake Young - making his second appearance of the season after Austin, Texas - crashed his Attack Performance Racing bike on the exit of Turn 5. The red flags stayed out while marshals cleaned the track surface of oil, deposited during the accident. With three minutes to go, there was also trouble for Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham who stopped at Turn 3.
Back on the timesheets, positions eight to ten were filled by Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini), home rider Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), while second American Colin Edwards finished 17th for NGM Mobile Forward Racing.
In the continued absence of Ben Spies, his Ignite Pramac Racing machine is being piloted this weekend by Alex de Angelis, who takes a temporary step back into the premier class from Moto2™; the San Marino rider ended the day in 14th place, while Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone has not travelled to the United States due to the dislocated right shoulder he sustained in an accident last weekend.
Free Practice 3 for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix will be staged from 10:25am local time (GMT -7) on Saturday and is the last session to have a bearing on the running order for Qualifying; the combined top ten will then head directly to the Q2 shootout.