Marquez Redeems Himself in Austin MotoGP Friday Practice
Honda’s Marc Marquez (photo by Ara Ashjian)

From the outset of Friday’s free practice sessions for round two of 2015 MotoGP at Circuit of the Americas, the number-one issue was rain.

This caused some drastically slow lap times during the first free practice session – 15 seconds slower than last year’s race pace at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas. Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez led most of the session, but Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso put in a last-moment effort to earn the top time – a 2:19.402 – by nearly a half of second.

Finishing third in FP1 was Scott Redding on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Honda, quite impressive for an open-class machine.

Marquez Redeems Himself in Austin MotoGP Friday Practice Cal Crutchlow
Honda’s Cal Crutchlow

But the track began drying out during the second and final free practice of Friday, and Marquez redeemed himself. The 21-year-old Spaniard, who won all races at COTA from the pole since the track joined MotoGP in 2013, was able to take the lead at a circuit he favors.

Besides holding a perfect win/pole record at COTA, he also holds all circuit records – Fastest Lap, Circuit Record, Best Pole and Top Speed. With credentials like this, it’s no wonder Marquez was the only rider to dip below the 2:05 mark during FP2.

Marquez, who like the rest of the grid starting on rain tires but switched to slicks with roughly 20 minutes remaining of the 45-minute session due to a drying line, posted a best lap of 2:04.835 around the 3.426-mile circuit containing 20 corners.

“Today was a positive day and in general it went fairly well. In the morning we rode in wet conditions, which was important because it is possible that Sunday’s race will be under the same circumstances and we were able to discard a few things,” Marquez says.

“In the second session we were able to ride in the dry and, although we only put in five fast laps, the feeling was good and we could draw a few conclusions. Let’s hope that tomorrow the weather is dry and we can continue trying out some modifications to the bike to improve further –although the important thing is that our initial feeling is positive.”

Marquez took the provisional front pole by 0.327 of a second ahead of the satellite CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, who is riding with a RC213V with an updated chassis and seat upgrade. Taking the final provisional front-row position was Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone, who trailed Marquez by 0.355 of a second aboard the updated GP15.

Marquez Redeems Himself in Austin MotoGP Friday Practice Suzuki Espargaro
Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro

Taking the fourth quickest time was Team Suzuki ECSTAR GSX-RR pilot Aleix Espargaro, who was 0.729 of a second off the top time. He was joined on the provisional second row by Dovizioso (-0.811) and nine-time World Champion and round-one winner at Qatar, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi, who trailed Marquez by 0.856 of a second on the leading YZR-M1.

The top open-class rider in FP2 was Athinia Forward Racing Yamaha’s Stefan Bradl, who finished eighth, 1.155 seconds off the pace.

As for the sole American in Grand Prix motorcycle racing, Aspar Honda’s Nicky Hayden – who starts his 200th premier-class race Sunday – finished 22nd, 3.927 seconds behind.

Just like FP1, there was only one crash. Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith crashed out of FP2, but walked away unharmed.

Friday’s slightly-dry FP2 sessions were important for placement in Qualifying 2 considering rain is in the forecast for all day Saturday. The third free practice is scheduled for 9:55 CT Saturday, followed by another free practice and qualifying.

COTA Friday Free Practice Photo Gallery:

2015 Austin MotoGP Free Practice 2 Results from COTA:

1 93 Marc MARQUEZ SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 343.5 2’04.835
2 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR CWM LCR Honda Honda 340.6 2’05.162 0.327 / 0.327
3 29 Andrea IANNONE ITA Ducati Team Ducati 342.4 2’05.190 0.355 / 0.028
4 41 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 329.8 2’05.564 0.729 / 0.374
5 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team Ducati 339.8 2’05.646 0.811 / 0.082
6 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 335.9 2’05.691 0.856 / 0.045
7 44 Pol ESPARGARO SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 336.9 2’05.840 1.005 / 0.149
8 6 Stefan BRADL GER Athinà Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 329.8 2’05.990 1.155 / 0.150
9 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Pramac Racing Ducati 338.4 2’06.092 1.257 / 0.102
10 38 Bradley SMITH GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 336.9 2’06.134 1.299 / 0.042
11 99 Jorge LORENZO SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 333.0 2’06.174 1.339 / 0.040
12 45 Scott REDDING GBR EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 331.5 2’06.216 1.381 / 0.042
13 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 339.1 2’06.294 1.459 / 0.078
14 63 Mike DI MEGLIO FRA Avintia Racing Ducati 336.3 2’06.591 1.756 / 0.297
15 25 Maverick VIÑALES SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 329.2 2’07.011 2.176 / 0.420
16 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN Repsol Honda Team Honda 344.2 2’07.268 2.433 / 0.257
17 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 325.3 2’07.419 2.584 / 0.151
18 8 Hector BARBERA SPA Avintia Racing Ducati 339.4 2’07.581 2.746 / 0.162
19 43 Jack MILLER AUS CWM LCR Honda Honda 328.5 2’07.916 3.081 / 0.335
20 50 Eugene LAVERTY IRL Aspar MotoGP Team Honda 330.7 2’07.968 3.133 / 0.052
21 17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE AB Motoracing Honda 327.6 2’08.266 3.431 / 0.298
22 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Aspar MotoGP Team Honda 327.1 2’08.762 3.927 / 0.496
23 76 Loris BAZ FRA Athinà Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 326.5 2’09.372 4.537 / 0.610
24 33 Marco MELANDRI ITA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 329.1 2’11.258 6.423 / 1.886
25 15 Alex DE ANGELIS RSM Octo IodaRacing Team ART 322.4 2’12.409 7.574 / 1.151