Austin MotoGP king Marc Marquez has set the fastest time in the first free practice in Texas on a circuit that has a coating of sand to rival Qatar on the opening day meaning times are two seconds off lap-record pace..
Marquez was never headed in the session and finished with a flourish, setting a 2’05.530 on his penultimate lap using the medium Michelin rear tyre after Valentino Rossi, sporting softies all round, had edged to within half a second.
The Doctor came out for his final run all guns blazing as the weather that is forecast for tomorrow is dreadful. Rossi put in a 2’05.926 for second place while Movistar Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales was third, a further three-tenths in arrears but with a medium rear.
Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo has wheeled out the big-wing aero package for the weekend, and it took him to fourth place on the sheet. Lorenzo ended on soft/soft combination with a 2’06.480 but almost a second behind Marquez.
Argentina winner Cal Crutchlow was as high as second but slipped back to fifth. The LCR Honda man stuck with a soft/medium combination to set a 2’06.539 with old team-mate Andrea Dovizioso one place further back.
MotoGP rookie Taka Nakagami ended in seventh place and only half a second behind Crutchlow on the second LCR RC213V while Johann Zarco had to use his second bike after an early breakdown and slipped behind Andrea Iannone’s Suzuki. Team-mate Alex Rins completed the top ten on a 2’07.211.
Aprilia men Alex Espargaro and Scott Redding are nailed together in 11th and 12th, with Danilo Petrucci the fastest Ducati privateer in 13th. Tito Rabat and Alvaro Baustista, both on Avintia Ducatis, completed the top 15.
Dani Pedrosa is struggling with his recently-broken wrist, especially at the end of the two long straights.