The second World Superbike race of the weekend was twenty one laps on a warm day as the track was warmed up to 30ºC.
A windy morning chilled the track temperature to 21ºC in spite of the air being 20ºC, World Supersport would be an 18 lap race around the historic Assen track.
At the core of every great sport is great storytelling. Mighty heroes take one another on, and overcome insurmountable obstacles in pursuit of glory. The leather patches, helmet designs, and in in the current fashion conscious age, tattoos in motorcycle racing bear this out: everywhere you look are nothing to loses, against all odds', and never give ups. Motorcycle racing has so many truly great story lines that it doesn't need any artificial plot twists or turns to hold the viewer's interest.
Sometimes, though, it feels like the script writer for MotoGP gets a bit lazy. The hero whose efforts went unrewarded at one race goes on to win the next race. The villain of the piece one weekend immediately gets his comeuppance the following week. The plot lines are so self-evident and obvious that it they become more cheap made-for-TV melodrama than a grand sweeping blockbuster the sport deserves. It's all just a little bit too obvious.
So it was on Saturday in Austin. The story of the day had been telegraphed two weeks ago in Argentina: the reigning world champion Marc Márquez made a stupid mistake on the grid before the start of the race, then turned into a one-man crime spree trying to make up for the ground he had lost, culminating in a collision with his arch rival Valentino Rossi, reigniting the slumbering war which has existed between the two since the 2015 season.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class at COTA:
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class at COTA:
With the surface all dried up after an earlier shower, Marc Marquez took little time to drop into his favourite 2:04s and put a one second cushion between himself and unsurprisingly Andrea Iannone. While the Italian lost some ground to the Yamahas later on, the Repsol Honda man posted very consistent times regardless of the tyre combination he had on throughout the session.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class at COTA:
The much talked about rain eventually came true just as the premier class was finishing things off and then made an appearance on and off throughout the final Moto2 practice session. Despite the occasional rain flags, track conditions didn’t worsen too much and the intermediate class got very close to bettering the weekend’s best time.
Alex Marquez was the first to attempt that and the Spaniard went on to lead for most of the session before the championship leader took over with seven minutes left on the clock. Mattia Pasini overcame all the troubles of Friday and dethroned Miguel Oliveira from his domination in every other session.
The premier class joined the party on Saturday morning with the threat of rain looming large over them. The circuit started dry but just as bumpy and it looked like we may get a routine practice session for much of its duration, until rain started falling in the final ten minutes. Marc Marquez led the entirety of FP3, initially about a tenth off the Friday benchmark and cutting that down to a frustrating nine thousandths of a second on his second run. The world champion did not get another proper shot to dethrone Andrea Iannone as the weekend’s fastest man but did put his name at the top of the pile for FP3.
WorldSBK standings after race 1 at Assen:
Saturday morning in Austin was somewhat as predicted although the umbrellas went down quite some time before the lightweight class hit the bumpy track. It might have been 17 degrees and overcast but the surface was dry and it allowed for another proper practice session.
Jaume Masia grabbed an early lead and stood at the top of the timesheets until the final run in time attack mode threatened his position. The lightweight King of COTA, Jorge Martin, retook his rightful position in the final five minutes to get close to Friday’s benchmark but not quite under it and the situation proved far from settled as Lorenzo Dalla Porta showed great speed to snatch the lead of the session on his penultimate lap.
World Supersport Superpole qualifying had seventeen riders, Ant West not competing after his Free Practice one crash yesterday, competing for the two promotional spots to take part in the top twelve riders for the front four rows of the grid.
Twenty one laps of the historic Assen circuit and the weather was warm, but not as warm as yesterday, meaning nobody had detailed tyre data for long runs in these conditions.
Superpole one had nine riders competing for two spots to qualify for Superpole two. Loris Baz and Toprak Razgatlioglu were the quickest two riders of this second group heading into this session. The track was a bit cooler than yesterday. Jake Gagne, after a bruising crash in Free Practice two yesterday, sat this session out, and his team announced on Twitter that he would be missing the Saturday race.