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. Adding to that, the world champion had a rear presumably-tyre-cooler device to test on his second outing and if it didn’t help his times much, it did draw lots of attention from the cameras.
Another unwilling star of FP2 were the bumps in turn 2, providing some painful slow-motion shots of tortured suspension but attention quickly went back to the timesheets as the final time attack started with seven minutes left on the clock. With Marquez busy shaking off Jack Miller, Maverick Vinales shot into the lead with a time fairly close to last year’s pole position and not even a late fast lap from Repsol’s COTA master could change that. Marquez settled for second, half a tenth off and the only other rider to dip into the 2:03s.
Valentino Rossi made it an even better afternoon for Yamaha by climbing into third position, a tenth off his teammate and only two thousandths ahead of Miller. Cal Crutchlow completed the top five, while Alex Rins left it late to join the top ten as the final man within half a second of the leader but more significantly, the one to push Andrea Dovizioso out of the provisional top ten and into the clutches of Q1. After following the Italian around the track, Pol Espargaro joined the top seven, with an extra breeze of youth completing the top ten through Franco Morbidelli, Fabio Quartararo and Pecco Bagnaia.
If rain does turn up to FP3 as predicted, Dovizioso would have to battle Joan Mir, Danilo Petrucci, Aleix Espargaro or Jorge Lorenzo for a place in Q2.