Tight at the top in Texas

Maverick Vinales
Maverick Vinales

Less than a second split the top 12 MotoGP riders with Marc Marquez finishing second behind Maverick Vinales on the opening day of practice.

Marc Marquez’s love affair with the Circuit of the Americas showed no signs of stopping as the six-time winner led Free Practice 1 from his first fast lap. The pattern continued into Free Practice 2 as Marquez improved his lap time on just his second flying lap. With the track at 41°C and the sky clear above, Marquez produced a 2’03.901 to end the day as the second fastest rider in Austin after a tense final five minutes of on track action.

But The Real Story Was……

The land in the entire area around the COTA track is settling. Even the roadways to the track undulate so much the dips must always filled in with new asphalt.

The degrading asphalt at the Texan track has been a discussion point during MotoGP's previous visits, with attempts to smooth the notoriously bumpy surface with diamond-grinder trucks ahead of last year's Grand Prix of the Americas largely useless.

Further attempts to improve matters for this year's event also appeared to have made little difference, with riders still struggling with the bumps in the first two sectors of the track in particular.

"I never rode on a track like this. It's not at the level of MotoGP, not at all," said Espargaro.

"I don't think we can race here one more year with these conditions, absolutely no way.

"Super-bumpy, especially in many corners, but more or less in the corners you can handle it.

"Corner two is disaster, but if you lose the front you are at 120, 130km/h. But in the straights, sixth gear, it's super-difficult to maintain the throttle open in one straight.

"It's very dangerous and we are [riding] one by one. I don't want to think about what's going to happen in the race. It's super-dangerous and for me this track is not at the level of MotoGP.

"The grip is not that bad, we ride at circuits with a lot less grip. But the bumps? Come on, this is not motocross. It's MotoGP, so yeah, too much.

"[On the back straight] the bike is shaking like crazy at more than 300km/h. If somebody crashes there…"

Friday Practice Results

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 VINALES Maverick 12 SPA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 2'03.857
2 MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 0.044
3 ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 0.146
4 MILLER Jack 43 AUS Pramac Racing Ducati 0.148
5 CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda Honda 0.261
6 RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 0.496
7 ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 0.507
8 MORBIDELLI Franco 21 ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 0.691
9 QUARTARARO Fabio 20 FRA Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 0.732
10 BAGNAIA Francesco 63 ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 0.733
11 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Mission Winnow Ducati Ducati 0.857
12 MIR Joan 36 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 0.994
13 PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Mission Winnow Ducati Ducati 1.049
14 ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1.096
15 NAKAGAMI Takaaki 30 JPN LCR Honda Honda 1.163
16 LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1.312
17 ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1.634
18 IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 2.098
19 ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 2.305
20 RABAT Tito 53 SPA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 2.347
21 OLIVEIRA Miguel 88 POR Red Bull KTM Tech 3 KTM 2.419
22 SYAHRIN Hafizh 55 MAL Red Bull KTM Tech 3 KTM 2.993

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