Alex Marquez held on to the top spot on the timesheet for the third Moto2 practice Saturday at the Circuit of the Americas track near Austin, Texas. Marquez's 2'10.164 was the fastest Moto2 lap of the weekend.
Miguel Oliveira, fastest in FP1, finished the session one-tenth behind and championship leader Franco Morbidelli -- winner of the first two races of the season -- ended the session as the third-fastest rider, just three-thousandths from the second-fastest time with qualifying practice coming up later in the day.
Cooler temperatures, gusty winds and a bumpy track conspired to create a crash-filled third practice at the Circuit of the Americas Saturday but the season's dominant rider so far, Maverick Vinales, appeared untroubled by the chaos around him.
Vinales, winner of the seasson's first two races, became the first MotoGP rider at the Circuit of the Americas to dip into the 2'03s this weekend with a 2'03.979 on his second-to-last lap of the morning session that saw multiple crashes including two from reigning world champion Marc Marquez.
What began as another session dominated by Aron Canet – easily the fastest rider in the first two practices – ended with dual surprises when Jorge Martin and then Romano Fenati pushed the young Spaniard off the top of the timesheet at the session’s end.
Fenati’s 2’16.273 – the fastest Moto3 lap of the weekend so far -- came on his final lap at Saturday’s FP3 under cool conditions and cloudy skies. Jorge Martin finished the session at the Circuit of the Americas track two-tenths back with Canet another two-tenths in arrears to end the session as third quickest.
It looks like we have been wrong all along. As usual. All this time, we thought it was the engine which was the problem for Honda. This would be a major issue, as engine designs are sealed and fixed for an entire season in MotoGP, at least for factories which have gathered sufficient podium credits to qualify as competitive under the rules. With nine wins last year, and a MotoGP title, Honda definitely does that.
Maybe the problem isn't the engine after all, however. Honda riders are starting to express the apparently unpopular opinion inside HRC that maybe the solution isn't to rejig the engine again by playing around with firing orders, crankshaft counterweights, and other internal moving parts now set in aspic until the season ends at Valencia. Perhaps, they suggest, Honda could take a look at its chassis, and try finding solutions there.
Cal Crutchlow was the most vociferous, though that is an extremely relative term when speaking of rider statements about the Japanese manufacturer they ride for. "I think we need to start working with the chassis a bit more," Crutchlow told us after another hard day at a very physical track. "That's not a comment against my manufacturer, against my team, it's just a comment that we've looked at the engine for the last two years, and I believe that a lot will come from the chassis. Sure, some electronics, but I think it's chassis. I've ridden other bikes, so I know what the chassis is doing. And I believe that's where we could improve a lot. Because the engine is sealed, that's done, it's done and dusted."
Alex Marquez put another Marquez at the top of the timesheet Friday with a 2'10.601 to lead FP2 by three-tenths of a second. Alex, younger brother of MotoGP's Marc, led much of FP2 and pushed championship leader Franco Morbidelli into second, just in front of Marcel Schrotter (3rd) at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas.
Marc Marquez apparently didn’t like the view from second so he returned to the timesheet position of which he is accustomed at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas. The reigning world champion set the best time of the day on his final lap with a 2'04.061 to lead the pack by more that two-tenths of a second at Friday's final practice.
Aron Canet ended Friday as the pole-position favorite with another practice at the top of the timesheet at Circuit of the Americas. Canet's 2'16.750 was the fastest time of the day in Moto3 and it kept him seven-tenths clear of second-fastest rider Joan Mir. Romano Fenati continued his strong form with a third-best time. But that still left him nearly a second slower than Canet.
Miguel Oliveira grabbed the top spot with a fast final lap Friday during FP1 at the Circuit of the Americas Friday near Austin, Texas. Oliveira’s 2’11.606 dropped Franco Morbidelli into second, a mere three-hundredths back. Morbidelli, who has won the first two races of 2017, led for much of latter half of the first practice.
Maverick Vinales took the first step in his effort to rewrite history at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas, with a fast lap that put him more than half a second clear of the the number two rider in Friday's first free practice. And that number two rider? The man who has won four previous races he has entered at the 5.5 kilometer (3.4 mile) track: Marc Marquez.
Aron Canet set a blistering final lap in Friday's first practice to take the top spot in warming temperatures at the Circuit of the Americas track near Austin Texas. Canet's 2'16.820 left him as the only rider to break into the 2'16s in the 45-minute practice.
If you wanted proof that MotoGP fans are smarter and more engaged than most people think (and arguably smarter, more engaged, and better informed than half the journalists in the paddock), then look no further than the section added to the press conference by Dorna featuring questions submitted by fans via Social Media. The questions submitted so far have been funny, interesting, and thoughtful (though of course, it helps that the hardworking Dorna Social Media staff carefully separate the wheat from the chaff beforehand).
They have managed to be revealing, coming at riders from unsuspecting angles and forcing them to let slip things without realizing it. Or sometimes, just gets them talking in a broader context, which helps provide a greater insight into the way the sport has changed, and the direction it is heading. And sometimes, they have just made us all laugh.
The question to Valentino Rossi, asking which of his rivalries should be made into a movie to match Rush, the dramatization of the rivalry between James Hunt Niki Lauda. There is no obvious answer to that question – Rossi's rivalries have been many, fierce, and bitter, with Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Márquez, Sete Gibernau – but Rossi settled on his rivalry with Max Biaggi. "It was funny, because we also had a lot of funny stories out of the track," Rossi quipped.
Previews from the MotoGP teams and Michelin of the Grand Prix of The Americas this weekend:
MOVISTAR YAMAHA EMBARK ON AMERICAN ADVENTURE
After a brilliant 1-2 from Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi in Argentina a fortnight ago, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team arrive at the Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) raring to start the Grand Prix of The Americas this weekend.
Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 18th April 2017
Preview press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
MARTIN AND DIGGIA THINK BIG AHEAD OF TEXAS GP
Team Del Conca Gresini Moto3 and their riders Jorge Martin and Fabio Di Giannantonio are ready to tackle the third Grand Prix of the 2017 Moto3 World Championship, which takes place this weekend at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.
The most remarkable statistic about the Grand Prix of The Americas is surely this: Since his ascent to the MotoGP class, Marc Márquez has won every single race he has competed in at a circuit in the United States of America. He won both US races during his two years in Moto2 as well. In fact, you have to go back to 2010, and Márquez' final year in 125s to find the reigning world champion's last defeat on US soil. America agrees with Marc Márquez, though that does not automatically include all Americans as well.
So after a decidedly mediocre start to his defense of the 2016 MotoGP title, the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas is the right place to get his season back on track. He comes to COTA knowing he can win, and knowing he can win on an uncompetitive machine. That knowledge alone will be worth a tenth or two in Austin, perhaps enough to give him the edge over the all-conquering hero of the hour Maverick Viñales.
Why does COTA suit Márquez so well? It is really hard to say. Perhaps because it offers so many opportunities to make up time on the brakes. First, there's the uphill monster of Turn 1, perhaps the weirdest first corner of the season (fittingly keeping Austin weird). Then there's Turn 11, the hard, sharp hairpin before the long back straight, at the end of which there is Turn 12, another spot requiring hard braking. And at the end of the lap, the two final corners, Turn 19 and Turn 20, which are shorter, but just as fierce.
Perhaps it's not so much the braking, but more the strange section of combination corners stretching between Turn 2 and Turn 10. They are the kind of corners that reward the ability to turn on a dime, and the all-front-end, all-the-time Honda deals well with those. Or perhaps the corners through the Stadium Section, and around the Grand Plaza.