2018 Austin Moto2 FP2 Result: Oliveira’s Gap Shrinks

With arguably the best track conditions of the first day of practice, Miguel Oliveira managed to do something that Marc Marquez didn’t: hold on to the lead of the session until the flag dropped. The KTM rider posted an early time that gave him four tenths of a second to play with and that cushion proved to be just about enough to hold off a fast charging Sam Lowes. The British rider only had another two hundredths of a second to find but ran out of time and settled for second.

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2018 Austin MotoGP FP2 Result: Iannone Fast, Marquez Ominous

Green light, Marquez unleashed, business as usual. The Repsol Honda man had a pretty standard session, jumping to the top of the timesheets right away, sliding out in turn 11 halfway through the session and then resuming action on a used hard rear tyre to post an even faster time. The Spaniard would’ve had the perfect day if Andrea Iannone had not put on new tyres at the right time to snatch one of the rare sessions held at the circuit not to be topped by the reigning world champion.

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2018 Austin Moto3 FP2 Result: More Martin

The big cloud of dust that surrounded the riders in FP1 was largely dispersed by the three morning sessions and the lightweight class benefited immediately by dropping the benchmark by two seconds. The first man to achieve that was Enea Bastianini, the Italian holding an early eight tenth advantage over the championship leader.

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2018 Austin Moto2 FP1 Result: Unsuccessfully Chasing Oliveira

Under the blue Texan sky, Miguel Oliveira pulled a Marquez at COTA special to shoot into the lead of FP1 by seven tenths of a second and kept his rivals at arm’s length for the duration of the morning session. The gap did come down significantly after an actual Marquez – Alex, as it happens – patiently build up his speed to trail the Portuguese rider by only four hundredths of a second.

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2018 Austin MotoGP FP1 Result: Predictably Marquez

Who is that making his way through dust as dense as a rainstorm faster than anyone else? Well it is Marc Marquez of course, dancing with arguably his favourite piece of tarmac. The Spaniard comfortably put a second into his pursuers as soon as the light went green and supervised the rest of FP1/track cleaning operation from the top of the timesheets. While his occasional rodeo did come with impressive pace at a track where he always seems to be one step ahead, the gaps throughout the field will come with a pinch of salt, as the morning session did not serve for much else than dealing with a very dirty track.

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2018 Assen World Superbike FP3 Results: Van Der Mark Quickest From Melandri And Rinaldi

Michael van der Mark heads to Saturday in provisional pole position, ahead of Marco Melandri and independant rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi. Jonathan Rea was unable to improve on his earlier time. Loris Baz and Toprak Razgatlioglu are the favourites for promition in Superpole one, with Jordi Torres knocking Baz to eleventh place with his time set in Free Practice two.

Qualifying Results:

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2018 Austin Moto3 FP1 Result: Martin Resumes Control

Remember that pesky rain setting the scene for all kinds of trouble last time around? None of that in Austin, at least on Friday, but what was lacking in rain, COTA was making up in dust. That did not hinder the lightweight class too much and the first to tame the bull was perhaps predictably Jorge Martin, the Spaniard enjoying the sunshine from the top of the timesheets.

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2018 Assen World Supersport FP2 Results: Krummenacher, Cortese And Cluzel Top Yamahas

Luke Stapleford in fourth and Raffaele De Rosa in fifth were the quickest non-Yamahas, behind Randy Krummenacher, Sandro Cortese and Jules Cluzel. Lots of laps were deleted after riders rode on the green paint on a couple of corners trying to find a fast lap. Everyone in the top ten improved on their times from this morning with Sheridan Morais and Ayrton Badovini in the favourite spots for promotion in Superpole two. 

Ant West's crash this morning has ruled him out for the remainder of the weekend.

Results:

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2018 Assen World Superbike FP2 Results: Rea And Sykes Quickest

The Kawasakis of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes were the quickest in the second session, with Marco Melandri third quickest, albeit slower than Michael van der Mark's morning time. With only one timed session remaining later today, van der Mark, Leandro Mercado and Jake Gagne were the only riders unable to improve on their earlier times. 

Results:

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2018 Austin MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Handling Shenanigans

The announcement that the official MotoGP.com website were to stream the Thursday media debriefs of Marc Márquez and Valentino Rossi live raised some hackles in the paddock. The objections to the move differed with the interests of those complaining. The print media complained that there was no point in flying half the way around the world to cover the series if everything was going to be streamed live anyway. Rival factories complained that the media debriefs of their riders were not being streamed live. Some fans and journalists complained that by showing the debriefs, Dorna were merely fanning the flames, where they should be trying to calm the situation down.

In the end, there wasn't much of a situation to calm down. Sure, the media debriefs of Márquez and Rossi were streamed live. But both men went out of their way not to say anything of interest. The feud lives on, but we didn't notice because we lost interest in what the protagonists were saying about halfway through. There is much to be said for trite media speak.

To an extent, this is probably a good thing. Aleix Espargaro, whose media debrief really should have been streamed live, as it was a great deal more entertaining than all the other rider press conferences put together, pointed out the irony of the situation. "Everybody is talking about the Argentina clash and nobody is talking about the tarmac of America, which is more important!" the factory Aprilia rider complained.

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A Lap Of Assen With Alex Lowes

Assen is a circuit unlike any other. The rich history of the Assen TT Circuit goes back almost 100 years and with over 50 WorldSBK to its name only Phillip Island has seen more Superbike track action although arguably no circuit has seen more exciting action than Assen.

Whether it's Carl Fogarty or Jonathan Rea, the heroes of WorldSBK love Assen to a rider. It's fast and flowing and is a circuit that can be ridden any number of ways. There is no ideal way to lap the 4.542km circuit but there are some secrets to unlocking the speed. Pata Yamaha's Alex Lowes sat down with MotoMatters.com to offer his insight.

“You come across the start finish straight in fifth gear and as you approach Turn 1 it's tighter than you'd think,” explained Lowes. “The apex is slightly blind because the track drops away ever so slightly so you aim for a point and with experience you learn that it's that little bit tighter than expected. You're in second gear through the first corner so you'll short shift into third for Turn 2, but this is a section where the bike is always sliding and if you're not careful at the start of the race to manage this you'll pay for it at the end of the race with tire degradation.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Bike racers were never choirboys

Just in case you think motorcycle racers used to be different, here’s something I wrote back in 2003

“This is bike racing, not classical music,” opined former 250cc world champion Max Biaggi after Doriano Romboni accused him of dirty tricks on the last lap of the 1994 250cc German Grand Prix.

Pretty obvious, really, because there’s not a half-successful racer in the world who doesn’t get up to some kind of mischief in his quest for glory.

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