Marc Marquez sent a friendly reminder to Maverick Vinales and the rest of the field on Saturday that his second-place showing in FP2 was a simple setback and not a trend at the Circuit of the Americas track in Texas. Marquez's 2'05.478 beat Cal Crutchlow's best lap by nearly two seconds in mixed conditions that saw the field start the session on rain tires and end it on slicks.
After rain and lightning provided early morning action and a two hour delay to FP3 sessions, a decision was eventually made to cancel all practice sessions for the three classes due to lightning in the area surrounding the circuit. Qualifying schedule will be subject to weather conditions so fingers crossed.
It is becoming a familiar refrain. At the end of each day at the Circuit of the Americas, the riders express their admiration for the event, for the setting, for the venue. And they express their dismay at the state of the asphalt, at the bumps in the track – the most common comparison was with speed bumps put in to slow traffic – and at the danger that entails. The Grand Prix of the Americas is one of the paddock's favorite events at one of their favorite venues, at one of their favorite track layouts. It is also the race with the worst asphalt.
Despite this, opinions are split, though not diametrically opposed. There are those who think the track is dangerous now, and who fear we will not be able to return if the track is not resurfaced, and there are those who feel that the track is fixable, and not quite as bad as the more apocalyptic predictions suggest.
Not at Grand Prix level
Aleix Espargaro always wears his heart on his sleeve, and so predictably does not hide his concerns about the state of the track. "Super dangerous," was how the Aprilia rider described it. "I’ve never ridden a track like this. It’s not at the level of MotoGP. Not at all. I don’t think we can race here one more year with these conditions. Absolutely no way."
The final session of the day saw the intermediate class benefit from the added grip of a full day of action but Xavi Vierge quickly became the first victim of the bumps in FP2, sliding out in turn two before even setting a lap in anger. Tom Luthi had no such problems and set camp at the top of the timesheets early on, with only Sam Lowes within half a second of his benchmark for most of the session. The calm before the storm allowed a false sense of security but Marcel Schrotter’s FP1 domination was back in the final time attack and the German rider took the lead by half a second.
Things hotted up literally and otherwise throughout the premier class’ second session of the day, given the unstable weather threatening Saturday’s proceedings. With FP1 times obliterated in the very first minutes of the session, Marc Marquez not only dipped but almost sunk into the 2:04s before retreating to the pitlane once again. Between finding the perfect setup for the bumpy Texan track and keeping safe in the top ten, teams had a lot on their plate in FP2.
The lightweight class kept the track busy in search of a top 14 worthy lap ahead of a potentially wet FP3. With the extra bit of grip after the temperatures went up and the morning sessions dusted off the surface, it wasn’t too long before Romano Fenati went four tenths faster than his FP1 benchmark on only his fourth lap. The Italian then had a long rest in his garage and allowed rivals the illusion they could catch up but then came back fighting and stretched half a second’s advantage at the front.
Marcel Schrotter blitzed the field to take the top Moto2 position Friday in FP1 at the Circuit of the Americas. Schrotter’s 2’10.853 easily eclipsed teammate Thomas Luthi’s second-place lap by nearly half a second. Jorge Navarro rounded out the top three in dry, clear conditions at the Austin, Texas track.