Efren Vazquez set the fastest Moto3 lap of the weekend Friday afternoon at the COTA track near Austin in the second free practice. Vazquez's 2'16.696 put him a little more than one-tenth better than rival Jack Miller and within a few tenths of last year's pole.
Miller, winner of the season's first race at Qatar, led for much of the second free practice before Vazquez put in the top lap. Isaac Vinales finished the day's final Moto3 session in third, a half a second back. Alex Rins, winner last year at COTA, finished in fifth, just behind an increasingly quick Jakub Kornfeil (4th).
With seven minutes remaining in the first Moto2 free practice at the Circuit of the Americas Friday, Johann Zarco claimed the top spot and didn't let go. Zarco's 2'11.788 put him one-tenth of a second clear of the tight field at the Texas track. Xavier Simeon, who spent most of FP1 lingering around the bottom of the top 10, set a final, blistering lap with no time remaining to claim the second-fastest time.
Tito Rabat, race winner in Qatar, managed third, just ahead of Dominic Aegerter (4th) and Simone Corsi (5th). Takaaki Nakagami, who led much of the early session dropped into sixth as the pace quickened at the end.
Maverick Vinales, last year's Moto3 champion, settled into seventh, a tenth ahead of Mattia Passini. Ant West, who low-sided while holding the fifth-fastest time with five minutes remaining, ended his first practice in ninth, followed by Jordo Torres.
Last year's winner, Nicolas Terol, managed only 22nd, which was six places ahead Josh Herrin (28th), the only American on the track in Texas for Moto 2.
Marc Marquez continued where he left off last year with the fastest time in the first free practice at the Circuit of the America's track near Austin, Texas. Marquez, both the pole sitter and race winner here in 2013, set a time at 2'04.704 on Friday, leaving him left eight-tenths of a second clear of the field.
Aleix Espargaro, who impressed in practice on his open-class Yamaha at the previous race in Qatar, set the second-fastest time at the end of FP1 with a 2'05'591. Using the soft-compound tire, the elder Espargaro brother just clipped third-quickest Dani Pedrosa, last year's second-place race finisher. Valentino Rossi's 2'05.676 puts him fourth-fastest, more than a full second behind Marquez, the 2014 championship points leader after one race.
Andrea Dovizioso put his Ducati into fifth after holding third for much of the session.
Marquez, who won his first MotoGP race last year at this circuit, not only set the fastest time, he also set the fastest time in each of the 3.4-mile-track's four sectors. (Cue ominous music.)
Alex Rins set the pace in the early at the Circuit of the Americas track near Austin, Texas Friday with a 2'17.964. Efren Vazquez ended FP1 second fastest, just four-hundredths shy of the leader with Jack Miller another four-tenths back.
Miller, winner of the previous race in Qatar, led much of the session. But Rins upped the pace late, setting his fastest lap at the end of the Friday's first practice under a clear sky sky with light winds. Rins' time is faster than his FP1 in the circuit's inaugural race in 2013. But it remains a full second off Rins' COTA pole-sitting time from last year.
Isaac Vinales, fast the whole session, grabbed fourth. Alex Marquez -- Rins' teammate and little brother to MotoGP's Marc -- crashed unhurt late in the session on a fast lap. Still, he managed fifth at six-tenths off the leader's pace.
2014 Austin MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Edwards Retires, Blandspeak Returns, And The Dearth Of US Racers
It was fitting – some might say inevitable – that Colin Edwards chose the Grand Prix of the Americas in his home state of Texas to announce his retirement. He had just spent the last couple of weeks at home, with his growing kids, doing dad stuff like taking them to gymnastics and baseball and motocross, then hosted a group, including current GP riders and a couple of journos, at his Bootcamp dirt track school. He had had time to mull over his future, then talk it over with his wife Ally, and come to a decision. There wasn't really a much better setting for the double World Superbike champion to announce he was calling it quits than sitting next to former teammate Valentino Rossi, the American he fought so memorably with in 2006, Nicky Hayden, the latest US addition to the Grand Prix paddock Josh Herrin, and with Marc Marquez, prodigy and 2013 MotoGP champion. It felt right. Sad, but right.
You can read the full story of Edwards' retirement here, but his announcement highlighted two different problems for motorcycle racing. One local, one global, and neither particularly easy to fix. The loss of Colin Edwards sees the MotoGP paddock, indeed all of international motorcycle racing, robbed of its most outspoken and colorful character. Edwards was a straight talker, with a colorful turn of phrase and uninhibited manner of speech. His interviews were five parts home truths, five parts witticisms and a handful of obscenities thrown in for good measure. He livened up press conferences, racing dinners, and casual conversations alike.
Bridgestone's decision to bring the 2013-spec medium compound rear tire to the Austin round of MotoGP has met with near universal displeasure among the MotoGP riders. The Japanese tire company was forced to revert to the 2013-spec tire, without the added heat-resistant layer, after a production issue with the 2014 tires meant that they were unable to bring enough of the new spec tires to the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin.
That decision was cause for much disappointment among MotoGP riders. 'I'm not happy to use the old tire,' Valentino Rossi told the press conference. 'I don't like it. I want to use the new one, and what Bridgestone did this weekend, bring the old tire after we worked a lot on the bike to make it use the new tire, this is something that sincerely I don't understand.'
Press release previews from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone ahead of this weekend's Grand Prix of the Americas at Austin:
Press release previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of this weekend's race in Austin:
The World Superbike teams and the series organizer preview the upcoming World Superbike round at Aragon in Spain:
Colin Edwards has announced that he is to retire from motorcycle racing at the end of the 2014 season. The 40-year-old Texan told a shocked press conference that he had decided to hang up his helmet for good, after finding it increasingly harder to be competitive, and struggling to make the family sacrifices with children growing up.
Edwards seemed uncharacteristically at a loss for words as he made his announcement. The Texan has always been outspoken, and never afraid to speak his mind, yet this announcement was hard. 'I don't even know how to say it, I rehearsed it so many times,' Edwards hesitated. '2014 will be my last year racing motorcycles.' It was a tough decision to make, he said. He has been racing in Europe since 1995, and been away from his family an awful lot. With his kids reaching the age where they are becoming much more active, Edwards hinted that it was getting hard to keep missing big moments in their lives.
The following interview was done by Polish MotoGP journalist and TV commentator Mick Fialkowski back in October 2013 and published in Bikesportnews in the UK amongst others. As well as writing in English, Mick writes in Polish for the website and magazine MotorMania, as well as the Polsat Sport website.
Spies is hopefully feeling better by now, but by how much, we'll probably find out next weekend as the former World Superbike Champion is set to attend his home MotoGP round at Austin, Texas, as a spectator. Can he ever come back as a rider?
With former AMA and WSBK Champ Ben Spies announcing his retirement following two horrid seasons in MotoGP, Mick Fialkowski asks him why and if he's ever coming back.
As the likes or Marquez, Rossi and Crutchlow spend the off-season gearing up for 2014, Ben Spies has other priorities, recovering from a double shoulder injury which forced his recent shocking retirement from motorcycle racing at the age of just 29. 'Right now, when I wake up in the morning, I'm still in a lot of pain with both shoulders,' the Texan says from his house in Dallas in a first interview since announcing his retirement exactly a month earlier. 'The left one, which I've injured at Indy this year, was a pretty bad separation, it was a grade five, the three tendons that attach the AC joint to your shoulder they weren't even connected. That was pretty big but I don't think it will be too much of a problem, hopefully, for the long run. The right shoulder, the one from Malaysia of last year; all I can say is it's been over a year since I've had the first surgery and I haven't gone a day without waking up without pain or it troubling me. It will be tough. I don't want to say never but when I talk to the doctors they always say that for doing normal things in normal life it shouldn't be a problem but racing a motorcycle or playing golf, I'm going to be restricted in a lot of things and that just comes with the nature of the injury and the damage that I've done inside my shoulder that you can't really fix. When you have the rotator cuff and torn labrum stuff, it's pretty severe and that's why the second surgery was done to my right shoulder to try and fix some of those problems. It still feels like it's not at 100%, that's for sure.'