Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez returned to his ruling position at the top in Texas as preparation for the Red Bull GP of the Americas fired up in Austin.
Marquez secured the standings with a 2’15.872 from the Ducati’s of Jack Miller and Johann Zarco while Yamaha struggled from the back of the field.
MotoGP got to grips with a wet Circuit of the Americas after heavy overnight and morning rain brought flash flood warming to the Texas capital. The premier class was one rider down as the opening practice began, Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales remaining in Europe to attend the funeral of his 15-year-old cousin after the tragic accident at Jerez last weekend. The entire World Championship paddock having commemorated Dean Berta Viñales’ passing with a tribute on Thursday evening.
The ‘King of COTA’ led the way as the action launched, the Repsol rider heading the times with an impressive early effort of 2’20.323 as the positions flicked behind him. Honda teammate Pol Espargaro claimed second after the third laps came in, albeit two-seconds down. Miguel Oliveira bettered the Pramac duo of Zarco and Jorge Martin in the top five with Fabio Quartararo narrowly adrift of the rookie, in sixth.
The Ducati’s were in the groove after 10 minutes on track as Zarco advanced to second, Miller took third and two-time race winner Pecco Bagnaia progressed to sixth, however their efforts remained over a second adrift of Marquez.
Espargaro began to home in on his teammate with half and hour to go, just two-tenths now separating the HRC machines. Bagnaia improving to third although failing to break through the 2’19 barrier.
The sixth laps finally provided progress as three riders secured 2’17 times, Miller securing the final top three position before Marquez once again shifted the benchmark with a 2’16.801.
A surprising entry to the top of the standings saw Luca Marini circulating fourth with low 2’18 pace, Bagnaia bettering the rookie next time around as factory Ducati and Honda power locked out the top four.
Miller took charge at the halfway stage, over one-tenth up on the previous best effort and with a second stunner in the tank. 2’16.612 now the target as Oliveira joined the fight, in third.
The second half saw the pack concentrating on set-up changes as the conditions improved. The majority running soft wets across the board, with Miller and Alex Rins the only riders so far opting for Michelin's medium rain tyres.
The Suzuki man’s first personal best found 11th with 10 minutes remaining on the clock, as his teammate joined him on track with the harder option rubber. Joan Mir circulating in sixth before Rins demoted him as he claimed fifth.
The overall time was moved once again as Marquez arrived with a 2’15.872, Oliveira the next to challenge as he advanced his time, albeit staying third. 2019’s victor had firmly found his rhythm as Rins continued his improvement, moving to within four-tenths of his closest rival on his way to fourth. Opposing fortunes hitting last visit’s podium fellow Valentino Rossi in 20th, with his Petronas SRT teammate just under five-seconds off the pace in 21st.
The chequered flag confirmed the familiar sight of Marquez at the top in Texas, Miller, Zarco, Oliveira and Espargaro completing the top five with his younger brother sixth on the LCR machine. The final Honda of Takaaki Nakagami looked to be improving before falling in the final sector, from 16th.
Rins, Bagnaia, Brad Binder and Iker Lecuona completed the top 10 with Quartararo struggling once again in the wet, from 15th but as the fastest Yamaha.