MotoGP championship leader Maverick Vinales picked up in Austin where he left off at Rio Hondo, topping the opening free practice timesheet by more than half a second from Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez while a late lap from Andrea Dovizioso saw him jump into third.
Vinales began the session with soft-compound Michelins all round at the Texas track but switched to mediums and set a 2’04.923 on his tenth lap to head the session with 15 minutes left and the Spaniard was never headed again. Marquez, meanwhile, stuck to his guns in terms of tyres and remained with mediums for the entire session.
Vinales and Marquez are running similar lap pace too, with the former putting in eight lapsin the 2’05s while the latter went one better but the HRC man stuck to one set of tyres in the session and was still able to do the same times after 15 laps. Vinales did two runs and the second, on medium slicks, ran ten laps including his quickest.
The RC213V jockey ended with a 2’05.500 on his 15th lap of 19 but a late change to the soft rear tyres saw Ducati’s Dovizioso set a 2’05.604 while Jorge Lorenzo opted for the same combination and leapt to fifth place on a 2’06.017 before being knocked back a place by Alvaro Bautista’s Pull&Bear GP16.
The little Spaniard was only 0.043s behind Johann Zarco’s Monster Yamaha in fourth. The reigning Moto2 champion also began on the soft tyres but switched to the mediums after his first run and stayed with them to put in a 2’05.790 for fourth place.
Dani Pedrosa, on the second factory Honda, put in his 2’06.109 on lap five using the soft rear and then switched to the medium but didn’t improve so slipped back to seventh. Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi began on the mediums but then changed to softs all round for his final run, putting in a 2’06.292 for eighth and 1.369s behind his team-mate.
Aleix Espargaro was ninth fastest while Danilo Petrucci completed the top ten on a 2’06.469, 0.058s behind the Aprilia man. Cal Crutchlow had to come back from an early crash at turn six - which saw the Briton complain about bumps - to set a 2’06.484 for 11th place, one ahead of Jack Miller.
Scott Redding began brightly but ended in 13th, with Jonas Folger and Hector Barbera rounding out the top 15. Sam Lowes finished in 22nd with Bradley Smith 23rd.