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Not even a mid-session crash could stop Marquez from commanding the field on Friday, Iannone and Viñales almost within touching distance.
After a productive Free Practice 1 session, riders in the MotoGP™ World Championship were straight back to work in Free Practice 2. Almost the entire field flooded out of the pits as soon as the session began, apart from Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) who had suffered a heavy crash at Turn 18 during Free Practice 1. The Australian had just recovered from a broken leg, the heavy crash forcing him to hop to his bike to begin the session.
Unsurprisingly it was Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) who had set the pace in FP1, the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) one of his favourite tracks. It was a bit of a slow start to the session for Marquez but once he found his groove he exploded to the top of the standings with a 2’04.560 on his sixth lap. The Spaniard looked set for a 2’03 lap with 25 minutes to go until he lost the front at Turn 20, he was immediately on his feet and pushed his bike all the way back to his pit box.
He would then go faster on his 11th lap of the session with a 2’04.034, continuing to edge closer and closer to his 2015 pole time. Marquez was untouchable as Friday came to a close, no rider able to get within half a second of the factory Honda rider. On only three occasions has Marquez failed to top a session he was a part of at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas.
Once again it was three different manufacturers inside the top three as Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) managed to wrestle his Ducati into second. But he was 0.706s behind the merciless Marquez, unable to keep his pace. After his attempted pass in Argentina, Iannone was handed a three-place grid penalty by Race Direction for the Austin round. Therefore the Italian needs to focus as hard as he can on achieving a top grid spot on Saturday to ensure he is at least on the second row once his penalty is applied.
Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) rounded out the top three and was just 0.155s back on Iannone. Back in 2015, the Suzuki GSX-RR struggled a lot with the heavy acceleration demands of COTA but Viñales' third in FP2 is proof of the development done by Suzuki. In Argentina he was not only able to match the Yamaha riders down the straight but also slipstream past them.
Fourth place saw Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) finish as the highest placed Independent Team rider and as the second Ducati. Once more it was the Bologna factory who took the lion’s share of the top five. The Brit is out to make amends after a number of technical problems destroyed his weekend in Argentina.
In fifth, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was the leading Yamaha rider and 0.867s back on Marquez. He was a meagre 0.006s back on Viñales in third place however, almost nothing dividing himself from Redding and his fellow Spaniard. Yamaha riders have often struggled at the Texan track, the new Michelin tyres easing the issue but it’s clear there is still work to be done. It has almost always been the front that has caused issues and more laps are needed to know if the issues still exist.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was sixth and within a tenth of his teammate. ‘The Doctor’ was able to complete 16 laps and gather more valuable data for his team as they turn their attention once more to race day.
Loris Baz (Avintia Racing), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) formed the top ten which was tighter than initial glances at the timesheets may have suggest. A second split Iannone in second from Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) in 15th. All of the 21 riders on track improved their times from FP1.
Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) had an uncharacteristically difficult day, the Brit struggling to adapt to the new Michelin tyres on the American track. He would eventually finish Friday in 19th after a big setting change between the two sessions.
Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team MotoGP) suffered a fast fall at Turn 2 towards the end of the session. The Irishman lucky to escape injury at the rapid corner.
Full standings and times from FP2 can be viewed here.
MotoGP™ will return to the Circuit of the Americas for FP3 on Saturday at 09:55 Local Time.
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