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Marquez raises the bar at Laguna Seca

Marquez raises the bar at Laguna Seca

Marc Marquez may have learned the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca only a day earlier, but on Saturday morning very much threw down the gauntlet for his MotoGP™ rivals. The Repsol Honda Team rider lowered the best lap time to 1’21.568, leading the way from Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl.

The first news of the day was that Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa, still nursing a collarbone injury, elected not to take part for the second time in three sessions. That means the former championship leader, who missed last weekend’s German Grand Prix, will later be running in Q1 for the first time. He finished 11th on the combined timesheets, whereas Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo – also with a collarbone injury – improved his time and rose to seventh place.

The first to move inside the 1’22.000 barrier, Marquez confidently led the way but Rossi was one of only three riders to complete 23 laps and moved to within two tenths of the rookie during the closing moments. Bradl was the only other runner to post a 1’21 lap time, as GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow were demoted to fourth and fifth spots.

There were no significant incidents, but several riders ran off-track. This included Rossi, Alex de Angelis who is covering for the injured Ben Spies at Pramac Racing Team, Gresini’s Bryan Staring and Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro who once again set the pace for the CRT representatives. There was immense disappointment for Blake Young, as the American wildcard rider withdrew from the event after damaging his Attack Performance Racing APR frame on Friday; with his only bike left irreparable this weekend, he will be back in action at Indianapolis.

The two Americans left in action ended up eighth and 16th on the combined timesheets, in the form of Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team, running a golden 69 on the front of his bike as well as a modified helmet design) and Colin Edwards (NGM Mobile Forward Racing). The top ten, which includes Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and Tech 3’s Bradley Smith, will this afternoon head directly to the Q2 Qualifying phase and will be joined by the top pair of riders from Q1. The rest of the field will fill grid positions 13th and downwards, depending on their Q1 results.

Following Free Practice 4, which has no bearing on the running order for Qualifying, Q1 for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix will start at 2:10pm local time (GMT -7).


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