2015 Austin MotoGP FP3 Result: Marquez On Top; Crutchlow Shines

In the final practice before qualifying, Marc Marquez did what he always does in Texas: He grabbed the top time in emphatic fashion. But a surpise remained during the dry Saturday morning FP3 session at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin.

And that surprise's name is Cal Crutchlow. The satellite Honda rider put in a remarkable lap with three minutes remaining to briefly take the top time of the session only to be eclipsed by a tenth of a second at the session's end. And it wasn't just one fast lap; Crutchlow ran a consistently quick pace in the 45-minute session.

The same can't be said for third-fastest finisher, Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo couldn't seem to find his speed until the end. But when he did, he climbed within three-tenths of Marquez while setting a near identical time to Valentino Rossi (4th).  Bradley Smith, who has been quick all weekend, held on for fifth. 

Rounding out the remaining five riders who go straight to Q2 are brothers Pol and Aleix Espargaro (who, as a pair, briefly led the entire session). The top factory Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso was eighth followed closely by the Honda of Scott Redding (9th) and the satellite Ducati of Danilo Petrucci (10th). The top 10 riders are separated by only three-quarters of a second.

With Andrea Iannone in 11th and headed to Q1, it appears the factory Ducatis have not found the dry-track speed they showed in Qatar. But with rain a possibility in qualifying and in Sunday's race, the order could change rapidly. Remember: Dovisioso topped the timesheet on a wet track in FP1.

Results: 

Pos. No. Rider Bike Time Diff. / Prev.
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 2'03.302  
2 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 2'03.490 0.188 / 0.188
3 99 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha 2'03.647 0.345 / 0.157
4 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 2'03.647 0.345
5 38 Bradley SMITH Yamaha 2'03.666 0.364 / 0.019
6 44 Pol ESPARGARO Yamaha 2'03.773 0.471 / 0.107
7 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Suzuki 2'03.790 0.488 / 0.017
8 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 2'03.850 0.548 / 0.060
9 45 Scott REDDING Honda 2'03.946 0.644 / 0.096
10 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 2'04.030 0.728 / 0.084
11 29 Andrea IANNONE Ducati 2'04.343 1.041 / 0.313
12 25 Maverick VIÑALES Suzuki 2'04.425 1.123 / 0.082
13 6 Stefan BRADL Yamaha Forward 2'04.429 1.127 / 0.004
14 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ Ducati 2'04.845 1.543 / 0.416
15 8 Hector BARBERA Ducati 2'04.876 1.574 / 0.031
16 63 Mike DI MEGLIO Ducati 2'05.048 1.746 / 0.172
17 76 Loris BAZ Yamaha Forward 2'05.931 2.629 / 0.883
18 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA Honda 2'05.959 2.657 / 0.028
19 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Aprilia 2'06.225 2.923 / 0.266
20 43 Jack MILLER Honda 2'06.394 3.092 / 0.169
21 17 Karel ABRAHAM Honda 2'06.563 3.261 / 0.169
22 50 Eugene LAVERTY Honda 2'06.636 3.334 / 0.073
23 69 Nicky HAYDEN Honda 2'06.913 3.611 / 0.277
24 15 Alex DE ANGELIS ART 2'07.467 4.165 / 0.554
25 33 Marco MELANDRI Aprilia 2'07.669 4.367 / 0.202

 

Round Number: 
2
2015
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Comments

People posting conspiracy theories tend to have their posts removed. Rider X only wins because of Y is almost always wrong, and just generates lots of the kind of rabid arguments that I hate. So I preemptively remove posts like this, to keep the tone of debate here intelligent. If you don't like it, there are plenty of other sites on the internet where you may feel at home.

What's happened to the Ducs? I was expecting more from them (especially on the soft tyre). That was pretty disastrous for Iannone. I really thought they'd be pushing the Hondas on this circuit.

Obviously the GP15 hit the track many times before it was handed off to Dovi and Iannone, but even if you're only talking about the time it's spent with the factory riders, you'd have: 3 days at Sepang 2, 2 days at the Qatar test, 3 days at the Qatar race, and yesterday.

The point is valid--the Dukes presumably still have untapped potential--but maybe taking a deep breath and consulting reality before typing would be a good idea. Probably would help to ensure all of your contributions to the discussion get to stay posted as well.

These are few facts that I considered before posting;

1) The GP15 was only complete in mid February. Therefore it could not have hit any track as GP15.

2) Today is GP15's 2nd day at COTA.

3) as a new bike it still needs a proper set-up for this particular track.

Fine, 2nd day at this track. The wording was a bit ambiguous.

I totally support grading the GP15 on a curve as a "clean slate" design, but I think that reasoning can be exaggerated. All of the bikes still need a proper set-up for this track (and these conditions), that's why they all showed up on Thursday. I don't think it's overly harsh to wonder what Ducati might be struggling with given their performance at Qatar and Dovi's performance in FP1.

Dorna knows that Rossi won't be around for long so they are putting all their efford into making an idol out of Marc Marquez. Not question about his talent, but everything is engineered for him to come on top. Tyres designed to suit Honda, he is having the best bike/traction control....etc yet he gets beaten by guys on the slowest bike on the grid riding with tyres that is not suited to their bikes (46/99)

And this year? "Super Hard" I wonder what is this Super Hard?? Well, Honda?dorna saw Ducati pre-season times and were so worried by their performance on medium tyre. So they ordered Bridgestone to make all tyres softer than they actually are just to hinder Ducati.

So a world in which Ducati has more than twice as many engines per season, unrestricted engine development and testing, two extra liters of fuel and softer tires is a world in which Dorna and Honda are conspiring to do everything in their power to prevent Marquez's dominance from being threatened?

That's the worst evil plan I've ever heard.

Many uninformed fans don't know the fact that "Open rules" was available to all teams. As Dorna's plan to level the playing field and to encourage other manuacturers, the open rules was available for all to follow, including the "Innocent" Honda and Yamaha. Honda didn't go open because they didn't want to give up all the advantages they piled up for years. Ducati decided to go with Open Class and it got Honda and Yamaha outraged. Then, Honda & Yamaha bullied Dorna and created the "Factory 2" class for Ducati.

Take a minute to understand that, there are also sources available online.

2)

Engine freeze, engine limit, fuel limit, Control tyre, testing ban...etc all were introduced by Honda. It is no mystery that Honda is running the sport, 800cc 4-stroke, destroying the 125cc & 250cc, enforcing the ridiculous Moto3/Moto2 class, monopolising Moto2 and Moto3.

Maybe I made them up all by myself!

A blind will always be a blind....

I'm not disputing the fact that Honda unfairly manipulates the MSMA and the entire rule-making process. I'd also agree that Dorna sees a lot of value in grooming a new marquis superstar as Rossi nears retirement.

I just can't buy the idea that Dorna wants Marquez to cruise to victory race after race, given the years long trajectory towards 2016. Dorna knows the fans want races, not processions, and the evidence suggests that they're working hard to provide that.

Is it possible--even probable--that Dorna is aiming for "close, but not too close" and that they still hope to see a new Marquez Era to replace the Rossi Era that's coming to a close? Sure. But to see a Dorna/Honda anti-Ducati conspiracy in every single action and decision is just a different form of the "blind" gullibility you accuse me of.

Pleased to see that there are people who actually understand the sport.

You are absolutely right, 2011-2012 made Dorna to think of something. It resulted 2014 season. The sudden change of spec tyre right before 2014 is something that puzzles me. and this year, can anybody explain why we have "Super Hard" tyre?

Dorna is crating Rossi's replacement. They want close racing, but not close enough to give Marquez any trouble. Look at Moto2/Moto3, it's so ridiculous. No matter how talented you are, you cannot win if you are not in a HRC/Dorna backed team. In moto2, all bikes are so called "identical"!! Are the electronics and tyres Identical? and in moto3 we have a pole setter who is ahead of the 2nd man by 1 whole sec, yet he gets beaten by the guy from 21rd! That makes me wonder, how come the guy who has such talent and racecraft to come from 23rd to finish 2nd can't do well in qualifying??

That's my biggest question!

And...

Apologies for the blind remark :-)

Apology accepted. :-)

You're right. Mysteries abound, and the powers that be often make questionable decisions.

Doesn't mean they're not out to get you. I agree that Dorna's motives may be less than pure. They are a business, and the bigger MotoGP is, the bigger the heroes, the more money they make.

Also, no doubt Honda has had, and probably still has, too much influence. Many times they have had tantrums and squealed until they got their way, and they have, after threatening to take their ball and go home.

But I don't think they are 'crating Rossi's replacement'. Just my opinion, could be wrong, but that seems ridiculous. Not so much defending Dorna, just sayin'; They are not stupid, and they know what makes MotoGP popular. It's great racing, lots of different winners, different bikes winning, unknown outcomes. The best thing for Dorna, (and us), would be for, say, a Ducati to win the title this year, then Rossi or Lorenzo in 2016, then Marquez to come back and win it in 2017, and maybe a time or two after that. Mix this in with some satellite wins and pigs flying over the circuit once in awhile, and viewership/hype would be MUCH bigger than if one man dominates the next 5-10 years, winning half or more of the races every season.

Also, just because Rossi has been huge(!) for the sport, it may not have turned out that way. As in, statistically speaking, no matter the level of natural talent, betting the whole farm on one man is foolish. Any racer that has big success, early or at any time, (just looking at the record), is more likely to drop to lower top ten, split for WSBK, or get hurt and be gone, than to go on to worldwide fame and legend status as Rossi has. Dorna sure wouldn't do anything to hinder Marquez/Honda, but I don't think they would prop them up either, at the expense of all others and good racing. I can dig conspiracy when it seems logical, but this doesn't.

MotoGP Reached its lowest low during the Rossi era. The sport was overwhelming watched by fans of one rider to the detriment of fans of any other rider. The sponsors only wanted to sponsor one rider and no other team (except Honda and Ducati who had long term sponsors) could attract new sponsorship. Having a single dominate rider is terrible for any sport no matter how popular they are. There is no way Dorna is going there again.

Doesn't mean they're not out to get you. I agree that Dorna's motives may be less than pure. They are a business, and the bigger MotoGP is, the bigger the heroes, the more money they make.

Also, no doubt Honda has had, and probably still has, too much influence. Many times they have had tantrums and squealed until they got their way, and they have, after threatening to take their ball and go home.

But I don't think they are 'crating Rossi's replacement'. Just my opinion, could be wrong, but that seems ridiculous. Not so much defending Dorna, just sayin'; They are not stupid, and they know what makes MotoGP popular. It's great racing, lots of different winners, different bikes winning, unknown outcomes. The best thing for Dorna, (and us), would be for, say, a Ducati to win the title this year, then Rossi or Lorenzo in 2016, then Marquez to come back and win it in 2017, and maybe a time or two after that. Mix this in with some satellite wins and pigs flying over the circuit once in awhile, and viewership/hype would be MUCH bigger than if one man dominates the next 5-10 years, winning half or more of the races every season.

Also, just because Rossi has been huge(!) for the sport, it may not have turned out that way. As in, statistically speaking, no matter the level of natural talent, betting the whole farm on one man is foolish. Any racer that has big success, early or at any time, (just looking at the record), is more likely to drop to lower top ten, split for WSBK, or get hurt and be gone, than to go on to worldwide fame and legend status as Rossi has. Dorna sure wouldn't do anything to hinder Marquez/Honda, but I don't think they would prop them up either, at the expense of all others and good racing. I can dig conspiracy when it seems logical, but this doesn't.

on the real reason Stoner is not riding in place of Pedrosa.

Dorna's poison dwarf had a word in Honda's ear that they don't want that upstart Aussie ( who hates their guts as well ! ) having the chance to shine against their new homie " cash cow ".

MM93 didn't always have the best bike. In moto2 Suter was NOT the chassis to have. The first year was a toss up between all of the chassis because it was the first season of moto2. Moriwaki isn't even in the championship anymore and they won the first one. After that first season, it's always been about the Kalex. MM93 nearly won his rookie season(2012)in moto2 had he not pulled out of the last couple of races on a Suter and did so the following year on a Suter against the "badass" Kalexes. The kid's got a good combo of natural
talent & racecraft(Rossi) with raw speed(Stoner) Mix in some confidence and almost a total lack of fear and THIS is why he's always at or near the top every practice, qualifaication, and race. And he makes it look easy with a smile as
"the cherry on top" I honestly believe he would be in the same winning situation at Yamaha or Ducati (in it's current iteration) and possibly even Suzuki if their machines could manage to squeeze a little more power from them. There's always that one rider who surpasses the current crop of great riders and takes it to that next level breaking records on the way every decade or so....

Talent + racecraft + fearlessness + mental composure. Sounds about right. I'd say this has been the champion recipe for decades. I'd add that Marquez has also benefited from some serendipity. The timing of his rise through Moto2 (versus the 250cc class that the other Aliens passed through) and his passion for flat track helped him develop the superlative version of the McCoy/Stoner sliding rear style, and he then secured a position at Repsol Honda where the RC213V has complemented him perfectly. Add to that the fact that he never had to adjust to the introduction of modern electronic wizardry--and that he comprehends the bleeding edge of their capabilities better than any other rider at the pointy end--and his dominance starts to make sense.

I think Yamaha's handling of Pol Espargaro would give some hints to Marquez's potential had he joined the Movistar team. Spies claimed that the Yamaha could only be ridden well by adopting Lorenzo's "mantequilla" style and that Yamaha wouldn't contemplate development that might threaten their golden boy. Last year, there was much discussion of the Tech 3 squad working hard at finding a set up that would allow Pol to utilize his (Marquez-like) Moto2 riding style and seeming to find some success. I have to imagine that Yamaha would have embraced that direction and would have accelerated progress in that regard with Marquez in their stable.

It looks like Marquez advantage is really in Sector 2, which flows a little more. He's up 0.250 seconds in that sector vs. Lorenzo and Rossi (and the rest that are close). In sectors 1, 3 and 4, he's the same or a little slower. I would have thought Sectors 1 and 3 would be the Honda / Ducati zones because they have the tight corners and straights; I guess that's why they race.

I have no doubt that Yamaha's garage has noticed this also and will be looking for time there, or a strategy. If Yamaha can hold off Marquez in sector 1 and hold him up in sector 2 - hold on to your hats.

It is interesting to see that Marquez has separated himself only in this one narrow zone, albeit by a huge amount in that area.

This could be a very, very interesting race, although I'm still expecting Ducati to catch-up. FP4 will be interesting indeed.

/EDIT/ It looks like Sector 2 has a short straight followed by a slow corner and then the first part of the back straight - this is ideal for Honda (and Ducati). Yamaha will do very well to be able to contest this section, but FP4 suggests otherwise.

It is easy to flog Honda because they are so dominant. I am not their fan, but give them their due, they did not cheat their way up. Maybe they do things in their interest which is what most businesses do anyway. Unfortunate but with sports turning professional and spending huge amounts of money the ROI becomes very important. So companies will do whatever that is under their control to ensure that they stay ahead. Honda is doing the same and Yamaha reluctantly supports since it is easier to fight one Honda than fight Honda, Ducati, Suzuki, Aprilia, Kawasaki and whoever else may want to enter the sport. The Moto3 domination is Honda's reaction rather than action. Moto2 which is a ridiculous concept anyway does not put Honda anywhere, it is only Kalex, Speed Up and maybe a Suter. So let us not go over the top and bash the hell out of Honda.

The Rossi years were not a low in the history of MotoGP. In fact, they represented a high. Valentino Rossi brought Yamaha from nowhere and made winners and world champs out of them. That cannot be a low. Marquez is not consciously being groomed to take over from Rossi. I think he has earned that position. Even if Stoner were there, I do not see Marquez being washed away to sea. These theories of Honda, Dorna, Rossi, Marquez and the whole lot of them are for me at best, products of a vivid imagination. If that is rude, my apologies.