Marc Marquez began his weekend in the most optimal way he chases his fourth-straight win at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas – on top of the leaderboard.The 23-year-old Respol Honda pilot – who won all three Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americsas from the pole – was in his in dynamite form as he gained full control of his RC213V during the opening 45-minute free practice session.
Marquez struggled throughout preseason testing due to the aggressive nature of the RC213V, and it appeared the Honda had some issues adapting to the new Michelin tires and spec ECUs. But the two-time MotoGP Champion proved the bike’s ability, earning third in Qatar and the win last weekend at Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina.Marquez posted a 2:04.953 around the 3.4-mile circuit containing 20 corners; to put this time into perspective, the Best Lap (all sessions) is a 2:02.135 set by the Spaniard last season. Heading into Austin, Marquez has 41 points – eight ahead of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi.Marqeuz was the only rider to dip into the 2:04s as his team experimented with bigger winglets on his bike during the final run. Following 0.255 seconds behind was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo. The reigning MotoGP Champion is already showing great speeds at a track both he and the Yamaha YZR-M1 has struggled with. Lorenzo is looking for serious redemption; he had won the season opener, but crashed out of Argentina.Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone, who will be penalized three starting positions due to an “ambitious overtaking” of teammate Andrea Dovizioso – which ultimately led to both crashing out on the final lap in Argentina while in podium contention – finished third fastest.The Italian was 0.617 of a second off the pace. Iannone’s GP16 also experienced a fire due to the fairing being too close to the exhaust, but he was able to return to the track with the same bike.Two additional Ducati Desmos followed – the GP15 piloted by Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera and the other factory GP16 piloted by Dovi. Both factory GP16s were fitted with duel winglets to prevent wheeling.Rounding out the top 10 were Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP), Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team).MotoGP reports that Rossi’s second test YZR-M1 was fitted with a rear-mounted fuel filler: “Yamaha had experimented with this towards the end of 2015 and throughout the 2016 pre-season, but ruled it unnecessary after Michelin improved the front tire. By shifting the filler cap to the rear of the bike and thus moving the fuel tank itself back slightly, the weight of the bike is shifted towards the rear.”Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS’s Jack Miller suffered a huge high side at COTA’s fast turn 18, sustaining foot damage He was taken to the medical center where doctors confirmed no bones were broken; he is expected to begin Free Practice 2, which begins at 2:05 p.m. local time.Photos by Ara Ashjian
2016 Austin MotoGP Free Practice 1 – Photo Gallery
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!