Nothing unusual in FP4 at the top of the sheet. Near the middle of the chart, however, was a little surprise: Colin Edwards II. Edward's 13th place put him a less than a second from the top of the second group. If he can continue at that pace, and get one of the top two slots in Q1, the popular Texan could sneak into Q2 for the first time this year.
Ben Spies' run of truly appalling luck continues. During the Saturday morning FP3 session of practice for the MotoGP race at Indianapolis, Spies was thrown from his Ignite Pramac Ducati and fell very heavily on his left shoulder. The Texan was taken to the medical center at the circuit, where he was diagnosed with an acromioclavicular joint dislocation, the separation of the collarbone from the shoulder blade. Spies has been forced to withdraw from the Indianapolis GP.
The accident could not have come at a worse time. Spies had just made his return after a layoff of nearly two months, which had been preceded by a string of intermittent races as he struggled with the recovery from surgery on his right shoulder. He had injured that shoulder in a huge crash in the wet at Sepang. The Texan had returned to racing too early from that injury, and been forced to stop after his home race at Austin. Another return at Mugello proved to be premature, Spies then deciding to wait until he was fully recovered before attempting to race again. That came at Indy, and Spies had commented after the first day that it was nice to be able to ride at full strength again.
Pol Espargaro made up for a lousy second practice with a fast lap in FP3 that put him on top, four tenths of a second clear of championship points leader Scott Redding. Espargaro, who announced he is headed to MotoGP next year, sits second in the championship at only 23 points behind Redding.
Redding’s time put him just a tenth of a second ahead of Jordi Torres who set FP3’s third-fastest time. As in the prior practices, the Moto2 riders remained bunched on the timesheet, with just over one second separating first through twelveth fastest.
Repsol rookie Marc Marquez, oblivious to the MotoGP season limit on superlatives, again set the fastest time in the third free practice with a blistering 1'38.844. The time, set toward the end of the session, put him nearly three tenths clear of the second-place Honda of Stefan Bradl. The German, who led much of the session, also remained three tenths clear of his nearest pursuer, Cal Crutchlow -- the lone Yahama near the top of the order. Rounding out the top five were the Hondas of Alvaro Bautista and Dani Pedrosa. Positions sixth through nine were the Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and Bradley Smith -- none of which threatened the top times.
Local favorite Nicky Hayden grabbed the tenth spot of the session, which sets most of the roster for the second qualifying session later in the day. The 11th through 25th finishers are set for the first qualifying session with the top two from that group headed to Q2.
Satellite Ducati Rider Ben Spies continued his run of bad luck with a highside crash that dumped him squarely on what had been his uninjured shoulder. He was taken to the medical clinic and the extent of his injury wasn't immediately known. UPDATE: American Ben Spies is out of the race. He suffered a dislocated left shoulder in the FP3 crash.
Maverick Vinales, quickest from the prior practice, continued his form for the third free practice with the top time of the session at 1'48.060. Worrying for his rivals is that Vinales dropped his best time by half a second and extended the gap to second place by two-tenths of a second. Taking the second place times was an increasingly quick Luis Salom who was followed by a surprising third-best time by Malaysian rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams, Bridgestone and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the first day of practice at Indy:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Indianapolis:
2013 Indianpolis MotoGP Friday Round Up: The New King Kenny, Yamaha's Seamless Gearbox, And Returning Next Year?
There's something about America. Especially if your name is Marc Marquez. The Repsol Honda Rookie led both sessions on the opening day of the Indianapolis Grand Prix (the last one? Too early to say) going quickest both in the tricky morning, when there was very little grip, and in the afternoon, once the bikes had laid down some rubber. Marquez has won both US rounds so far, dominating at Austin and winning comfortably at Laguna Seca, and he has picked up at Indy where he left off before the summer break.
Unsurprisingly, the parallels with Kenny Roberts are starting to be made, the only other rider to become world champion as a rookie. Those parallels are unfair yet perfectly valid: both men exceeded expectations and raised the bar, shaking up the established order with a radical new riding style. Yet Roberts and Marquez also came from totally different backgrounds: Kenny Roberts had grown up racing dirt track, switched to road racing and then came to Europe to win his the championship at the first attempt, on tracks he had never seen before. Marc Marquez has had a classically European education: minibikes from a very young age, then nurtured through Spain's many road racing series, before rising up through the ranks of 125, Moto2 and now MotoGP. Marquez knows all of the tracks MotoGP races like the back of his hand, with the exception of Austin, which nobody knew, it being a new circuit, and Laguna Seca, which didn't prevent him from mastering and winning at his first attempt.
Simon Corsi rose from fourth in the first practice to the top spot in FP2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday afternoon. Championship leader Scott Redding, in a late charge, managed a second place just two-tenths off first. And Esteve Rabat put his Kalex into third just another one-tenth back. As it always in the hyper-competitive Moto2 class, less than a second separates the top 13 riders.
Unfortunately for championship contender Pol Espargaro, he wasn't within that top 13 after a heavy crash early in practice at turn 16. While he did return to FP2, he never managed to get his laps anywhere near the leaders' times and finished his Friday in 15th, more than one second back.
Early on in FP2, it seemed as if former Indy race winners Jorge Lorenzo (2010) and Dani Pedrosa (2009, 2012) would establish their spots at the top of the order. After all, the long break gave the veteran riders time to heal from injuries and reclaim lost speed. And both looked fast early in FP2.
Someone again forgot to inform Marc Marquez about the natural order of things. Marquez, already a winner at the prior two American races in 2013 (Austin and Laguna Seca), announced his similar intention at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a top time of 1’39.502, eight-hundredths faster than teammate Dani Pedrosa. And Marquez, too, is a prior winner here, just not in the top class.
Stefan Bradl grabbed third to give Honda a clean sweep of the top-three slots. Jorge Lorenzo managed fourth, the best of a cluster of three Yamahas. He was followed by Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi who ended up slightly more than half-a-second slower than rookie Marquez.
Maverick Vinales reestablished order during the second free practice as the temperature climbed and lap times dropped. Vinales’ 1’48.502 was only four-hundredths faster than second-place Romano Fenati but it was two seconds faster than the top time in FP1.
Alex Marquez, younger brother to MotoGP championship leader Marc, placed third at 1'48.609, a tenth back from rival Vinales. (And for those counting inconsequential details, it is eight seconds slower than his older brother's best Indy lap on a full MotoGP bike.)
Takaaki Nakagami bolstered his hopes that he's returning to early-season form with the top time in Moto2 FP1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Nakagami's 1'44.518 is two-tenths clear of seond-fastest Mattia Pasini who, in turn, is another two-tenths ahead of Dominique Aegerter. Nakagami has struggled in recent races after a strong start to the season. Championship points leader Scott Redding couldn't shake off the cobwebs from the month-long break and finished ninth, seven-tenths off the pace.
MotoGP rookie Marc Marquez, picking up where he left off before the summer break, led the first free practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a time of 1’40.781. Cal Crutchlow put his satellite Yamaha into second, three-tenths adrift of Marquez.
Current world champion Jorge Lorenzo, who led much of FP1, finished third. Stefan Bradl continued his good form with a fourth-fastest time and Valentino Rossi put in a fast final lap to grab fifth place. Rossi had dropped as low as eighth in the late stages of practice before putting in his best lap as time expired.
But as has become standard, all eyes were on Marquez. The current championship points leader in July at Laguna Seca became the first rookie to win back-to-back races since American Kenny Roberts in 1978. At Indy, Marquez jumped to the top of the timesheet with 12 minutes remaining and he didn’t let go.
American Ben Spies -- a former MotoGP rookie of the year himself -- ended his injury hiatus with an 11th place time, 1.7 seconds off the pace.