The first free practice of the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas got underway Friday at Circuit of the Americas – a very wet Circuit of the Americas.Besides rain challenging the riders, the 45-minute session was also red flagged with 33 minutes to go due to a stray dog. The dog actually made its way onto the track, but luckily was captured without incident. This caused a 20-minute delay, though.
When the 25-rider grid was able to finally complete the first free Texas at COTA just outside of Austin, Texas, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso led the way. The man with a perfect record at COTA, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, was the leader for most of the session.But the two-time MotoGP Champion who won all races from the pole at COTA since the track joined MotoGP in 2013 was beat by the Italian Dovizioso in the final moments.Dovi, who earned the pole at the season opener in Qatar, finishing second there, posted a best lap of 2:19.402 around the 3.426-mile circuit containing 20 turns. To put this time into perspective, the circuit record set by the Spaniard Marquez last season was a 2:03.575.Marquez, who holds all track records at COTA – Fastest Lap, Circuit Record, Best Pole and Top Speed – finished 0.462 of a second behind Dovi.Marquez was followed by satellite rider Scott Redding, who finished 1.085 seconds behind Dovi on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Honda of Scott Redding.Round one winner Valentino Rossi was fourth quickest aboard the Movistar Yamaha YZM-R1; the nine-time world champion was 1.191 seconds off the top time. Next was yet another Ducati – the Pramac Racing Ducati piloted by Danilo Petrucci, who was 1.263 seconds off the pace.Rounding out the top 10 were the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro, CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Pramac Racing Ducati’s Yonny Hernandez. Hiroshi Aoyama, who is substituting for Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, finished 12th, and was 2.985 seconds behind. Following the MotoGP season opener at Qatar, Pedrosa underwent surgery for arm pump issues. He is expected to also miss next weekend’s round at Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina.Taking the top Open-class time was Alvaro Bautista on the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini RS-GP; the Spaniard finished 2.616 seconds behind Dovizioso.Fortunately, there was only one crash. Team Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales crashed out at turn two, but walked away unhurt.As for the sole American in MotoGP, Aspart MotoGP Team’s Nicky Hayden, who starts his 200th premier-class race at COTA, finished 15th, 3.140 seconds off the pace.The riders will return to Austin for FP2 this afternoon, and rain is expected once again. Rain is expected to plague the entire weekend.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.