Can anyone seriously stop Marc Marquez at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas? The Repsol Honda rider has dominated every MotoGP race since the Texan F1 circuit joined the MotoGP calendar in 2013, earning every victory from the pole.Marquez, who finished third at the season opener in Qatar and won last weekend in Argentina, wasted no time showing his strength at the 3.4-mile circuit containing 20 corners during the opening practice sessions Friday for the 2016 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas.
Marquez earned the top time in free practice one by nearly 0.25 of a second at COTA – a track he considers his favorite – and showed no remorse during the second and final free practice of Friday. The 23-year-old two-time MotoGP title holder posted a 2:04.034 in free practice two – nearly a second quicker over his FP1 time.And nobody was near; the closest rider was Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone, who trailed 0.706 of a second behind. Third fastest went to Team Suzuki ECSTAR’s Maverick Vinales, who was 0.861 of a second off the pace.Marquez’s time also came after he suffered a crash at the final turn (20), but he was immediately “on his feet, able to push his RC213V back into the paddocks and rejoin the 45-minute practice session.” This is unusual for Marquez; he has lead all sessions in Austin since the track debuted in 2013 except for three.Iannone showed speed, finishing second, but unfortunately the Italian will start round three of 2016 MotoGP with a three-position grid penalty due to his “ambitious takeover” in Argentina last weekend. Iannone was battling Dovizioso for second on the final lap, and struck his fellow Italian, sending both to the ground. Iannone DNF’d – his fourth straight since last season – but Dovi was able push his crashed bike over the finish line for 13th.Vinales, who finished 0.155 of a second behind Iannone, shows some promise for the GSX-RR. The bike, which returned to the MotoGP grid last season after a three-year hiatus – struggled last year in Austin. Suzuki did finish in the top 10, though, , Aleix Espargaro earning eight, and Vinales ninth.Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati’s Scott Redding claimed fourth overall Friday during COTA MotoGP practice, 0.865 of a second off the pace. He was trailed by the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1 duo who were the final to post within a second of Marquez – reigning Champ Jorge Lorenzo and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, respectively.MotoGP reports that “Yamaha riders have often struggled at the Texan track, the new Michelin tires easing the issue but it’s clear there is still work to be done. It has almost always been the front that has caused issues and more laps are needed to know if the issues still exist.”Rounding out the top 10 were Loris Baz (Avintia Racing), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda). All of the 21 riders on track improve their times from FP1.As for crashes, Aspar Team MotoGP Ducati’s Eugene Laverty, who earned his best-ever MotoGP finish with fourth last weekend, suffered a quick crash at turn 2. The Irisman escaped without injury.Action continues tomorrow with two additional practices sessions that begin at 9:55 a.m. local time – just ahead of qualifying for the 21-lap 2016 Austin MotoGP.
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!