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MotoGP Austin: Marquez leads Zarco in second practice

Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez has taken charge of the timesheets at his most successful circuit this afternoon but had to fight it out with rookie Johann Zarco for top spot with so-far-unbeaten series leader Maverick Vinales in third place.

Marquez slung in a soft rear Michelin to complement the hard front and on his final lap went around in 2’04.061 to demote Monster Tech3’s Zarco who, a lap earlier, had used a soft/soft combination to lap in 2’04.347. The Frenchman is top Yamaha and 0.104s ahead of Vinales.

Vinales, crucially, hasn’t been out on the soft rear tyre yet so the 0.347s gap to Marquez may vanish tomorrow morning, should he try the yellow-banded rear ahead of qualifying. Valentino Rossi did stick in the, er, sticky rear matched to a soft front and that carried The Doctor to a 2’04.806 - good enough for third until Zarco had a better suggestion. Dani Pedrosa hauled himself into fifth place with a 2’04.811.


Andrea Dovizoso parked his works Ducati GP17 in sixth place on his 15th lap to go one place ahead of Cal Crutchlow, who used the same tyre combination as Marquez to lap at 2’05.005. Zarco’s Monster Yamaha team-mate Jonas Folger bagged eighth place, just in front of Scott Redding who took his soft-tyred GP16 to a 2’05.116, finding more than a second over lunch.

Andrea Iannone got some decent times on the board after some electronic problems this morning, taking tenth place and the last automatic qualifying two place should it rain in FP3, and sharp, heavy rain is not unheard of in Texas. Jorge Lorenzo also used a soft rear to grab 11th to end 1.221s off the leader and one place in front of Danilo Petrucci.

Jack Miller was sitting pretty in third place with seven minutes remaining but slipped back to 13th, just head of Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia. Hector Barbera completed the top 15 over all. Alvaro Bautista will be disappointed with 16th place after his fourth in Argentina.

Ecstar Suzuki’s Alex Rins blew a motor right at the start of the session and finished down in 18th, one in front of Loris Baz who was the only crasher in the second session.

Pol Espargaro debuted a new aero package on the KTM which looks not dissimilar to the helmet a Predator wears but it carried him to 20th place. Karel Abraham had a massive crash on the exit of turn 11 and his GP15 slid down the hill, halfway to turn 12. Sam Lowes improved by 1.5s to end in 22nd with Bradley Smith 23rd.

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