Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez showcased his MotoGP strength in both wet as dry conditions around his beloved Circuit of the Americas in Friday practice.
The recovering champion seemingly back to winning ways as he prepared for the Austin GP with a 2’04.164 to top Friday’s running from Ducati’s Jack Miller and title favourite Fabio Quartararo.
A dry afternoon saw little change to the standings as FP2 fired up. Marquez continued his dominance in the early laps, followed by Miller with Quartararo finding a more familiar footing in the favourable conditions, from third.
Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira and Alex Rins maintained their front running pace in the top six with Jorge Martin overtaking his Pramac teammate for fourth after as many laps. A strong start in the dry found Andrea Dovizioso inside the top 10 after 10 minutes of action, his fellow Petronas, Valentino Rossi running 18th.
Miller and Marquez squabbled for position as the session unfolded, Pol Espargaro joining the fun in third with his fifth attempt as Joan Mir found sixth. Brad Binder rose to third at the half hour mark while Oliveira and iker Lecuona continued the KTM showing on the edge of the top 10.
Pecco Bagnaia was on the move after 20 minutes as the Ducati man hit the top five, Takaaki Nakagami rolling seventh ahead of Martin, Mir, and Oliveira with Aleix Espargaro struggling in 16th.
The LCR rider advanced again five minutes later as he climbed to third, before getting all out of shape on his next revolution. Oliveira bettered the lap with his ninth effort to sit 0.001s behind Miller’s Ducati - just one-hundredth covering second to fourth with the final quarter of an hour approaching.
Marquez maintained his half-second dominance with two-thirds of the session dispatched, his younger brother sitting just adrift of the promotion zone, and one-second away from his overall best. Miller improving to within a tenth of the Honda in the closing stages before the time attacks began to prepare.
Yellow flags were raised in sector three as Rins looked to push for his first hot lap, Lecuona having fell foul of turn 12. The Suzuki heading back tot eh pits to swap his new mediums for a fresh rear soft for the closing attack.
Bagnaia then Nakagami advanced the times into the 2’04’s with six minutes to go. Miller splitting the two with his first effort, before Mir began his assault, finding fourth. Drama struck as Espargaro crashed the Aprilia in the final sector before Oliveira did likewise at turn 12 moments later.
Quartararo took charge by a quarter of a second and two minutes left on the clock. Nakagami, Miller, Bagnaia and Rins holding top five spots as Dovizioso arrived to sixth. The timing screens were alight with red as the final minute counted down, Marquez retuning to the take the crown thanks to a 2’04.164 as Martin slotted in to fifth. A final flurry promoted Espargaro into the top three, just four-tenths off his Respol partner, with Mir potentially missing out on Q2 - weather depending - from 13th.
Miller was back in second and a mere 0.015s off his session-long rival from Quartararo, Espargaro and Nakagami as the flag flew. Bagnaia, Martin and Zarco claimed sixth to eighth ahead of Rins with Enea Bastianini completing a stellar day for Ducati, inside the top 10.