Sprint race number three is in the books, and despite the crashes – three in the ten-lap sprint around the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas – everyone made it back to the pits pretty much in one piece and ready to go for Sunday. After the attrition of Portimão and Argentina, this was a welcome change.
Saturday underlined once again what a massive change the sprint races are for MotoGP. They change everything: there is no such thing as "it's only Friday" any longer, as Friday determines who gets through to Q2 directly, and who has the stress of trying to pass through Q1. With qualifying counting for two races rather than one, a spot on the front two rows is now utterly vital.
Conditions had changed too. A very heavy fall of rain overnight had flooded into some of the temporary offices in the paddock, and left the track green and still damp in the morning. Then, when the sun came out, temperatures soared, track temps creeping up towards the high 40s°C.