Pramac Ducati rider Jorge Martin was little more than tenth shy of his own Circuit of The Americas lap record as he set a searing leading pace in the second of Friday's MotoGP Practice sessions for the Grand Prix of The Americas.
The Spaniard was in fine form on his time attack in the final minutes to see off rivals, Martin ending the day 0.063s clear of factory Ducati counterpart Pecco Bagnaia in second place.
The star of the session, however, was arguably Alex Rins, who enjoyed his strong day yet since joining LCR Honda by securing a spot in Q2 with the third best laps.
As ever, the hour-long P2 session waited until the very final moments to really come alive, the riders building momentum around one of the longest and most technical circuits on the MotoGP calendar before striking for their time attacks.
It led to a constantly evolving leaderboard in the final ten minutes with P1 pace setter Luca Marini, Maverick Vinales, Rins, Aleix Espargaro, Joan Mir and Bagnaia all enjoying stints up top, even if some did so for no more than a couple of seconds.
However, Martin - who had already signalled intent early in the session by dismissing Marini's P1 effort with a new benchmark - simply moved the goalposts again with three minutes remaining, posting a 2m 02.178s lap to go clear.
Just a whisker shy of the lap record he set en route to pole position in 2022, the Spaniard will be viewed as the favourite for qualifying on Saturday.
Heading up a Ducati 1-2, Bagnaia got close to Martin's effort but had to settle for second when his - and several other riders' - final laps were scuppered by yellow flags deployed after Johann Zarco came down through the sweeping Turn 3/4/5/6 complex.
Leaving his Pramac Ducati stricken on the racing line, though Zarco was unhurt, Mir was lucky not to get caught up in his aftermath after arriving just as the GP23 slid back across the track. Though able to avoid it, Mir then crashed in avoidance, but too walked away.
While there was disappointment for Honda's leading contender in Marc Marquez's absence, there was joy for stablemate and former Suzuki team-mate Rins, who ended the day third.
A venue he has enjoyed race-winning success in the past, Rins was a constant fixture inside the top five through P2, eventually peaking with a time +0.2s off Martin.
Marini completed a positive day with the fourth fastest time, while Alex Marquez made it four Ducati riders from the four Ducati teams up inside the top five.
Having looked out of sorts in P1, Aprilia Racing pulled it together in P2 to get both of its riders through to Q2 automatically, Vinales leading Espargaro in sixth and ninth respectively.
One of the riders caught out by Zarco's late fall, Fabio Quartararo nonetheless booked his passage through to Q2 in seventh, the 2021 MotoGP World Champion looking a more potent single lap threat in Texas this weekend.
Having started his final time attack just ahead of Zarco, Brad Binder made his luck count to haul the KTM RC16 round to a time that lifted him into the top ten at the flag, the South African joined by team-mate Jack Miller to get both of the Austrian factory bikes into Q2 directly.
Binder's late advance dealt the blow that left championship leader Marco Bezzecchi outside the top ten, the Argentina MotoGP race winner needing one of the top two Q1 positions to join his Ducati counterparts in the fight for pole.
The same can be said for Zarco, who late tumble ruined his end to the day and left him 14th, the title contender sitting behind the Honda pair of Mir and Takaaki Nakagami.
Elsewhere, Miguel Oliveira hit the deck twice - including a fast fall at Turn 2 early on in the session - to wind up in 15th on the RNF Aprilia, while GasGas Tech3's Augusto Fernandez and Honda's Stefan Bradl also took a tumble at the tricky Turn 12.
Finally, Jonas Folger made big gains between sessions, the series returnee finding more than 1.5s between session as he continued his progress ahead of his first MotoGP start in almost six years.
MotoGP P2 Results - Grand Prix of The Americas | COTA
|Grand Prix of the Americas, USA MotoGP | P2 Results | Circuit of The Americas | Round 3 / 21|
|1||Jorge Martin||ESP||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||2m 02.178|
|2||Pecco Bagnaia||ITA||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||2m 02.241|
|3||Alex RIns||ESP||LCR||Honda RC213V||2m 02.395|
|4||Luca Marini||ITA||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||2m 02.416|
|5||Alex Marquez||ESP||Gresini Racing||Ducati GP22||2m 02.682|
|6||Maverick Vinales||ESP||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||2m 02.717|
|7||Fabio Quartararo||FRA||Monster Yamaha Racing||Yamaha M1||2m 02.721|
|8||Brad Binder||RSA||KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||2m 02.735|
|9||Aleix Espargaro||ESP||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||2m 02.765|
|10||Jack Miller||AUS||KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||2m 02.841|
|11||Marco Bezzecchi||ITA||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||2m 02.878|
|12||Joan Mir||ESP||HRC Repsol||Honda RC213V||2m 02.904|
|13||Takaaki Nakagami||JPN||LCR||Honda RC213V||2m 03.208|
|14||Johann Zarco||FRA||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||2m 03.329|
|15||Miguel Oliveira||POR||RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||2m 03.340|
|16||Franco Morbidelli||ITA||Monster Yamaha Racing||Yamaha M1||2m 03.443|
|17||Michele Pirro||ITA||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||2m 03.685|
|18||Raul Fernandez||ESP||RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||2m 03.690|
|19||Fabio di Giannantonio||ITA||Gresini Racing||Ducati GP22||2m 04.079|
|20||Stefan Bradl||GER||HRC Repsol||Honda RC213V||2m 04.129|
|21||Augusto Fernandez||ESP||GasGas Factory Tech 3||KTM RC16||2m 04.561|
|22||Jonas Folger||GER||GasGas Factory Tech 3||KTM RC16||2m 06.529|