There is one undisputed king at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas (COTA), and his name is Marc Marquez. Though the start to 2017 MotoGP season began un-Marquez like, the 23-year-old Spaniard finishing fourth at Qatar and crashing out of Argentina, the reigning MotoGP Champion returned to the top of the time sheets Friday during free practice for the Grand Prix of the Americas.Marquez, who won every MotoGP round from pole at COTA since the 20-corner circuit joined the World Championship in 2013, was untouchable. He finished Friday with a best lap of 2:04.061—0.286 of a second ahead of rookie Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
Finishing third, 0.390 of a second behind Marquez, was the man who dominated so far this season—Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Vinales. Marquez’s fellow Spanish countryman led the opening free practice, but now has some additional pressure after his rival ascended to the top of the time sheets.“Today went well enough and in the second session I started to feel more comfortable on the bike, but there are some areas of the setup where we need to keep working hard, especially to improve the feeling with the front,” Marquez says.“The positive is that over the course of the day, we were able to complete a lot of work and try all the tires, even the soft one, to see how the bike reacts. In the afternoon we also took a step forward with the electronics, finding a good enough base, although we also want to sort out some more details there to improve the bike’s behavior on the bumps. I look forward to tomorrow, to continue the good work on the bike and on myself as well, I also can improve in T4.”Vinales also commented: “I’m really happy, we were working really hard for the race. We are quite confident, I know we can do a very good job. I’m working good, I’m working hard on the bike, I feel that I’m on a good level. We still have to work on the electronics in many places. I’m feeling great, that is something important. We were focusing on ourselves. We’re doing a good job all the time, we are trying to improve step by step. Important for us is working for the race, preparing for the last ten laps, because that’s where we can improve.”The Italian who finished on the podium at the opening two rounds, nine-Time World Champion Valentino Rossi, finished fourth by a slim 0.005 of a second ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.Rounding out the top 10 were Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who has the fastest timed speed at COTA with just over 214 mph, LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Jonas Folger, Octo Pramac Racing Ducati’s Scott Redding and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone.As for five-time World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, the Ducati Team GP17 pilot continues to struggle, finishing 11th—1.221 seconds behind Vinales.The top Aprilia RS-GP pilot was Arpilia Racing Team Greinis’s Aleix Espargaro, who finished 14th. The top Red Bull KTM Factory Racing time went to Aleix’s brother, Pol Espargaro, who finished 20th, 2.442 second behind Vinales.As for crashes, Pull&Bear Aspar Team’s Karel Abraham smashed his Ducati Desmosedici at turn 11, and Reale Avintia Racing Ducati’s Loris Baz crashed at turn one. Team Suzuki Ecstar rookie Alex Rins experienced some mechanical issues on his GSX-RR, but was able to complete practice on his backup Suzuki prototype.The MotoGP grid returns to COTA at 9:55 a.m. local time Saturday for free practice three ahead of qualifying, which begins at 2:10 local time.Photography by Ara Ashjian
2017 Austin MotoGP Friday Practice Results: Overall
1. M. MARQUEZ REPSOL HONDA TEAM 2’04.0612. J. ZARCO MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 2’04.3473. M. VIÑALES MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP 2’04.4514. V. ROSSI MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP 2’04.8065. D. PEDROSA REPSOL HONDA TEAM 2’04.8116. A. DOVIZIOSO DUCATI TEAM 2’04.8307. C. CRUTCHLOW LCR HONDA 2’05.0058. J. FOLGER MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 2’05.0339. S. REDDING OCTO PRAMAC RACING 2’05.11610. A. IANNONE TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR 2’05.14211. J. LORENZO DUCATI TEAM 2’05.28212. D. PETRUCCI OCTO PRAMAC RACING 2’05.28413. J. MILLER TEAM EG 0,0 MARC VDS 2’05.46314. A. ESPARGARÒ APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI 2’05.46815. H. BARBERA REALE AVINTIA RACING 2’05.58416. A. BAUTISTA PULL&BEAR ASPAR TEAM 2’05.60217. T. RABAT TEAM EG 0,0 MARC VDS 2’05.94318. A. RINS TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR 2’06.15519. L. BAZ REALE AVINTIA RACING 2’06.35820. P. ESPARGARÒ RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING 2’06.50321. K. ABRAHAM PULL&BEAR ASPAR TEAM 2’06.70922. S. LOWES APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI 2’06.74123. B. SMITH RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING 2’07.434
2017 Austin MotoGP Free Practice Results | Photo Gallery
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!