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Jul 19, 2013

Marquez Heads MotoGP Free Practice Two At Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix (Updated)

FIM MotoGP World Championship: Marc Marquez (93) in action on his Repsol Honda RC213V at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Marc Marquez topped MotoGP Free Practice Two Friday at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. In spite of riding on the track for the first time ever Friday morning, 20-year-old Marquez led all riders in the afternoon practice with a time of 1:22.040 on his Repsol Honda RC213V.

German Stefan Bradl started the day off slowly but jumped to second in the afternoon practice order with a 1:22.269 on his LCR Honda RC213V.

Andrea Dovizioso showed surprising speed on his factory Ducati Desmosedici GP13, ranking third in the afternoon practice with a 1:22.284.

Valentino Rossi (1:22.346) and Cal Crutchlow (1:22.457) continued their strong form in the session, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.

Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was 11th in the morning practice, but the Spaniard rose to sixth in the afternoon session with a time of 1:22.467 on his factory Yamaha YZR-M1.

Aleix Espargaro was once again the fastest CRT-class competitor. His lap of 1:22.531 on his Avintia Blusens ART-Aprilia put him seventh overall.

Just 0.7 second separated the top 10 riders.

Dani Pedrosa sat out the first practice session but completed approximately 22 laps in Free Practice Two. He was 11th-fastest with a 1:23.129.

American Blake Young crashed his Kawasaki-powered Attack Performance Racing (APR) CRT-class racebike with about 11:30 left in the session. Young highsided in Turn Five, and his APR came to rest in the racetrack, forcing the session to be stopped. Fluid leaking from Young's machine caused a short delay to clean the track surface. Young, meanwhile, walked away from the incident even though he landed heavily on his head and shoulder.

FIM MotoGP World Championship
Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Monterey, California
July 19, 2013
Free Practice Two Results (all on Bridgestone tires):

1. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), 1:22.040
2. Stefan BRADL, Germany (HONDA), 1:22.269
3. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), 1:22.284
4. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), 1:22.346
5. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (YAMAHA), 1:22.457
6. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (YAMAHA), 1:22.467
7. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (ART-Aprilia), 1:22.531
8. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (HONDA), 1:22.539
9. Nicky HAYDEN, USA (DUCATI), 1:22.733
10. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), 1:22.767
11. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), 1:23.129
12. Hector BARBERA, Spain (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:23.158
13. Randy DE PUNIET, France (ART-Aprilia), 1:23.437
14. Alex DE ANGELIS, San Marino (DUCATI), 1:23.973
15. Danilo PETRUCCI, Italy (IODA/SUTER-BMW), 1:24.047
16. Claudio CORTI, Italy (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:24.180
17. Colin EDWARDS, USA (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:24.410
18. Karel ABRAHAM, Czech Republic (ART-Aprilia), 1:24.421, crash
19. Hiroshi AOYAMA, Japan (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:24.473
20. Yonny HERNANDEZ, Colombia (ART-Aprilia), 1:24.555
21. Michael LAVERTY, UK (PBM-Aprilia), 1:24.727
22. Bryan STARING, Australia (FTR-Honda), 1:25.345
23. Blake YOUNG, USA (APR-Kawasaki), 1:25.764
24. Lukas PESEK, Czech Republic (IODA/SUTER-BMW), 1:27.173

More, from a press release issued by Yamaha Factory MotoGP Team:

Yamaha Gets Down to Business in Laguna Seca

Laguna Seca (USA), 19th July 2013

The first day of action at Laguna Seca got underway with a typically cool and misty start this morning for the first free practice ahead of Sunday’s US Grand Prix. By the afternoon the Californian sunshine had broken through and the riders were able to increase the pace in hot conditions.

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi made a strong start in the first session, getting quickly up to speed, finishing in second position just 0.091 seconds from the front. The nine-time world champion then spent the afternoon working through a number of set up changes to focus on improving tyre life and grip. He was able to increase his speed from the morning by just over half a second to take fourth, 0.306 seconds from first.

Teammate Jorge Lorenzo was back on track today following his second set of surgery last weekend to repair his collarbone injury sustained in Assen and then further damaged in Sachsenring. The reigning world champion took it easy on day one, completing the morning session in 11th before carefully upping the pace in the second session to finish in sixth, 0.427 seconds from the front.

Valentino Rossi
4th / 1'22.346 / 28 laps

“I’m quite happy with the first day, it was not so bad and we stayed with the top guys in the two practices. It's a very difficult racetrack to find the right settings. It is very physical for sure and Sunday will be a very long race. I feel quite confident with the bike, it’s not so bad but we have to try to do better and improve the balance, braking and acceleration. We are working to improve our performance as we are not so far from the top but we are not yet there. We hope to improve tomorrow to find a better balance for going faster and to get a good rhythm.”

Jorge Lorenzo
6th / 1'22.467 / 30 laps
“It was much better this afternoon. I tried to improve step by step like I did in my first time in MotoGP here to try to minimize the risk and understand the limit of the track. Every lap it got better and better, but obviously the pain is there. I felt a little better than this morning but not so much, after seven laps it started to be difficult to brake. I struggled a lot in braking but still we were able to practice without painkillers, this is very positive because with the painkiller we will get some benefits. The bike is working really well, we are just losing some tenths in some braking points where we cannot push too hard. The balance of the day is pretty good considering my physical condition.”

Yamaha Factory Racing Wilco Zeelenberg
Team Manager
“We are very pleased with the result, it's a very hard track when you have injuries. So to be in his position, in sixth place and staying calm is good. We need a good practice tomorrow to find a good setting and a good pace. I think the race will be very tough.”

Yamaha Factory Racing Massimo Meregalli
Team Director
"Jorge is suffering more than in Assen but we expected that as he is coming from a second surgery. He rode both sessions today without any painkilling injections and I think this time he decided to take it easy which was very important for us. With Vale we tried some different settings to try and improve the issues we had in Sachsenring with grip and tyre life and the pace is not so bad. We have to try and improve our speed a little to find a little more performance for qualifying.”

More, from a press release issued by Dorna Communications:

Marc Marquez finished atop the timesheets on his first day of practice at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ahead of this weekend’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. The Repsol Honda Team rider and championship leader led Stefan Bradl and Andrea Dovizioso, while the injured Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa finished sixth and eleventh quickest.

There was a dramatic improvement in conditions between the two Friday sessions. Following a cool and misty start to the day when Cal Crutchlow had finished fastest for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, the sun came out in the afternoon as Marquez registered 1’22.040 on his first ride at the notoriously tricky Californian circuit.

Second-placed Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) was two tenths of a second slower than Marquez, with Dovizioso (Ducati Team) just fractions further adrift. The first group of five was rounded out by Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing) and the aforementioned Crutchlow, while leading CRT runner Aleix Espargaro again impressed by ending the day seventh fastest for Power Electronics Aspar.

Both reigning title holder Lorenzo and erstwhile championship leader Pedrosa, who both missed last weekend’s German Grand Prix through injury, passed medical check-ups on Friday morning. Lorenzo went on to finish second practice in a creditable sixth spot, while Pedrosa elected to sit out the first session before ending proceedings 11th in the second, but complaining of much pain in his left shoulder.

There was a stoppage of just under 20 minutes during the afternoon period, as American wildcard entry Blake Young - making his second appearance of the season after Austin, Texas - crashed his Attack Performance Racing bike on the exit of Turn 5. The red flags stayed out while marshals cleaned the track surface of oil, deposited during the accident. With three minutes to go, there was also trouble for Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham who stopped at Turn 3.

Back on the timesheets, positions eight to ten were filled by Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini), home rider Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), while second American Colin Edwards finished 17th for NGM Mobile Forward Racing.

In the continued absence of Ben Spies, his Ignite Pramac Racing machine is being piloted this weekend by Alex de Angelis, who takes a temporary step back into the premier class from Moto2™; the San Marino rider ended the day in 14th place, while Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone has not travelled to the United States due to the dislocated right shoulder he sustained in an accident last weekend.

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda:


Monterey, 19 July: cool and misty conditions welcomed the field this morning at Laguna Seca race track which hosts the ninth round of the season before the 3-week summer break. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl was the 4th quickest in the morning outing and, when the sun came out in the afternoon with warmer track conditions, the German set the second fastest lap time (1’22.269 - two tenths of a second slower than pacesetter Marquez).

Stefan Bradl

“Already this morning, with tricky track conditions, we have shown our pace but honestly the working plan was not perfect. We made some small mistakes but, in the afternoon, we went back to our standard rhythm. Actually I was the first guy out on hard tyre but it did not work properly so we lost some track time on that rubber. After that I checked both bikes once again as we compared two different swing arm lengths and I already chose the one for the race. Finally I went out on soft tyre and could make a very good lap time but the session was suddenly red-flagged. Basically we took the right direction but we still need to improve the front-end in the breaking areas”.

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Marquez fastest and Pedrosa returns on track in Laguna Seca

Repsol Honda rookie, Marc Marquez, was the fastest rider today on the first day of free practice for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.

With track conditions improving from this morning, Marc was almost a second faster in FP2 with a time of 1'22.040 set on lap 14 of 24. Teammate Dani Pedrosa took to the track in the afternoon session for the first time since his dramatic high side crash in Sachsenring a week ago. Still hindered by his injury, Dani was 11th fastest for the day with a time of 1'23.129 set on his final lap of 23.

Marc Marquez 1st 1'22.040
"In the first free practice the most important thing was to remain calm and take it slowly, and that is what we did. Also, the track conditions and the mist made things tricky. During the first few minutes I was a little stressed on the bike, because I had a lot of work to do. It's a brand new track for me, but it is fun. It is very narrow and short, with many bumps so it took a bit of adapting on my behalf. In the second session I found things much more comfortable, I started to enjoy myself and found a pace that was not bad at all. We were fastest, but the time we clocked is still a little off the track record. I'm happy with this first day, so we'll see if tomorrow we can continue in the same way and continue to learn the circuit"

Dani Pedrosa 11th 1'23.129
"It was difficult to ride in my condition, but I had expected that. Now I have to try to rest up as much as possible for tomorrow and regain some energy, so that I can endure the pain once again. Being realistic, obviously winning the race this weekend is not a feasible goal -perhaps even getting a podium is out of the equation- but I will be trying to finish the race as high up the order as possible. I will look to minimise the advantage that my rivals will have in terms of points. Finally, I want to thank everyone who has sent their support to me in recent days for their messages"

More, from a press release issued by Bridgestone:

Marquez the maestro learns Laguna Seca quickly to top Friday practice

Round 9: United States MotoGP™ - Free Practice One & Two
Laguna Seca, Friday 19 July 2013

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Medium. Rear: Extra-soft (Symmetric), Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP1 - Dry. Ambient 12-13°C; Track 26-26°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP2 - Dry. Ambient 16-17°C; Track 46-46°C (Bridgestone measurement)

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez wasted no time learning the lines of the Laguna Seca circuit as the rookie clocked a time of 1’22.040 around the California circuit in Free Practice 2 to lead the field on the first day of action.

Marquez’s time put him marginally ahead of LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl who ended the day 0.229 seconds off the top in P2, while a late charge from Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso saw the Italian rider finish third overall and a further 0.015 seconds behind Bradl. The top three riders all set their best lap time on the soft compound rear slick in conjunction with the harder option, medium compound front slick. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was just 0.427 seconds off the pace, ending the day in seventh overall to set the pace for the CRT riders.

In what is a typical occurrence at Laguna Seca, morning mist kept ambient and track temperatures low for Free Practice 1 before the sun broke through in the afternoon to send track temperatures soaring to reach a peak of 46°C in the afternoon. The softer option front and rear slicks were used exclusively in the cool Free Practice 1 session to give the riders the best grip and warm-up performance and in the warmer afternoon session, tyre choice became more varied with many riders trying out the harder front slick and the harder rear slicks also being evaluated.

For tomorrow’s qualifying sessions fine conditions with ambient temperatures around 20°C are expected, with the next MotoGP session, Free Practice 3 scheduled to start at 1025 local time (GMT -7).

Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

“Today’s weather was typical for Laguna Seca with morning fog bringing very cool conditions for FP1 before the sun broke through the afternoon resulting in much higher track temperatures in FP2. The warmer track in the afternoon session enabled the riders to try both the softer and harder option front slicks and although the softer rear slick options were widely used today, the harder rear option was also tried. If we have the same conditions we saw in FP2 for tomorrow’s FP4 session, I expect we will see more riders try the harder option rear slick to see if it might afford them an advantage over race distance. Overall it was a positive first day at Laguna Seca with the top ten riders in FP2 separated by just seven-tenths of a second, and I look forward to another great day of action tomorrow.”

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Alex De Angelis enthusiastic at Laguna Seca

A cold and foggy day at the Laguna Seca circuit greeted the MotoGP riders for the first free practice session of the championship’s ninth round.

An enthusiastic Alex De Angelis, serving as substitute rider for Ben Spies on the Ignite Pramac Racing Team at the second American race of the season, concluded the day with a time of 1:23.973.

It was a result beyond expectations considering the San Marino rider’s years of absence from the premier class. De Angelis used the first day of the California race weekend to get used to the feeling of a bike that is so different from the one he rode in his last MotoGP appearance, in 2010.

This three-day partnership between Alex and the Ignite Pramac Racing Team is just a parenthesis during the championship, after which everyone will return to their normal roles, but a pleasant harmony has immediately been created between the team and the rider.

Alex De Angelis – Ignite Pramac Racing Team
“I'm very happy because we’ve improved on each exit. I managed to stay under two seconds from the top, and I’d say that we’ve reached our target today. At the moment, the hardest thing is to find the feeling with my braking; the speed is much higher than in Moto2, and this bike behaves in a completely different way. That’s where I’ll work harder to improve over the next two days. This morning I felt very stressed, and I wasn’t relaxed enough to overtake, but I felt better this afternoon and was able to push harder. I felt quite good with the tyres compared to in 2010, but now we have to try something with the electronics to help me with my braking. I'll do my best tomorrow. I'd like to get into Q2, but I'm not yet convinced; of course I'll try, but I’d be very happy just to get a little bit closer to the top.”

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

Provisional front row for Dovizioso at Laguna Seca, Hayden ninth

Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso got off to a good start on American soil, posting the third-best time in free practice on day one of the United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. The Italian exclusively used the updated frame, finishing the day with a time of 1:22.284, and just two tenths of a second from first-place Marc Marquez.

His teammate Nicky Hayden was less satisfied. Riding the standard version of the Desmosedici GP13 at his home GP, the Kentuckian concluded the first day in ninth place, with a relatively decent time gap of seven tenths.

Tomorrow will see the riders taking part in the final free-practice sessions and qualifying, with the race set for 2:00 p.m. local time on Sunday.

Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 3rd (1:22.284)
“It’s always nice to see your name up high on the monitors! I had Marquez as a distant reference point, but the lap was really good. Anyway, I have the sensation that we’re closer than at the other tracks, and although Laguna is quite unusual, our GP13 is working a bit better here. Our pace isn’t bad, but that’s the case for many of the riders, so we’ll have to see tomorrow. It’s too early to make predictions, but I’m pleased with how we started today. I only rode with the new frame, and the difference is really minimal, although I can’t say exactly because I didn’t do a comparison. I don’t think there are any downsides, so we’ll continue with it.”

Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 9th (1:22.733)
“It’s awesome to be at Laguna with all the support from the fans here, but of course I wish I were going a bit better. I’m pushing the front a lot, especially over the bumpy parts. I can’t finish the corner well and I’m hurting on acceleration. The gap to the front isn’t too big, but the position isn’t very good. I need to improve the rhythm. This track’s tight and the times are close, so it’s tough. Dovi seems to have had some positive results with the updated frame. If it’s better on steering, that’s important here because of the flat corners. Anyway, if we can improve the turning a bit, I think we should be able to be a lot more competitive tomorrow.”

More, from a press release issued by NGM Mobile Forward Racing:

Positive Laguna Seca debut for Corti

The first day of free practices comes to an end at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit for American rider Colin Edwards and fellow NGM Mobile Forward Racing teammate Claudio Corti.

Claudio Corti exceeded expectations during his debut at the Laguna Seca circuit by improving his teammate’s fast lap by 0.230. The Italian knows that tomorrow’s morning work will be crucial in order to be ready for qualifying.

The American rider struggled to find a comfortable setting for his FTR- Kawasaki bike during the first day at Laguna. The Texan remains confident that the data from the first two sessions will help find the setting that will allow having the right feeling to be competitive during qualifying.

Colin Edwards
“We tried a couple of different bike settings and kind of settled on one and went out this afternoon but it just felt like the bike was on top of the track instead of being really stuck into it so that kind of setting was a little bit off. We have a plan to make it better for tomorrow, I’m going to go sit in front of the computer and look at some data and make some changes to make the bike more friendly and that should be better.”

Claudio Corti
“Today things went well: its a new track for me and so far the feeling is good. It’s a difficult track to memorize especially because most of the turns are blind. The corkscrew is not the most difficult turn of this track, its actually one of the slowest ones and that makes it easier in a way. The brake before the corkscrew and the turn that follows are the toughest ones, I don’t think I have followed the same line twice. Its a short track and complicated to memorize. Today went well but I still have a long way to go: there are two points at which I do not feel completely comfortable in and which I think I could gain some time in. Lets hope that tomorrow the weather will remain the same and that the morning temperatures will allow improving the lap times. I an enjoyed this first day at Laguna.”

Sergio Verbena
MotoGP Technical Director
“We had hoped for a better start at Laguna for Colin while for Claudio the day went better than expected considering that this is his first time ever at Laguna Seca, especially knowing how particular this track is. He was able to find a good feeling with the track and his bike, His lap times have been good but he still has room for improvement. Colin on the other hand has had a difficult first day because of the lack of feeling with his bike. We have to work on providing him the best possible setting that will allow him to regain the good feeling he has been having in the last few races. We have to work keeping in mind tomorrow’s qualifying session and provide both riders with the best possible solutions to improve their lap times. We have also to keep in mind that the most important thing at this track is to work on having a good race pace.”

More, from a press release issued by Monster Yamaha Tech 3:

Crutchlow and Smith in the groove at Laguna Seca

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith enjoyed a promising and productive start to preparations for this weekend’s US Grand Prix at the spectacular Laguna Seca track today.

Crutchlow’s pursuit of a fifth podium in six races got off to a flying start in cool and cloudy conditions this morning, the British rider excelling in temperatures of just 14 degrees to top the FP1 timesheets ahead of fellow Yamaha YZR-M1 rider Valentino Rossi.

A best lap of 1.22.757 put him 0.091s clear of the chasing pack and in improved conditions for this afternoon’s second session, which took place under gloriously sunny California skies, the 27-year-old was able to lap 0.3s faster.

Crutchlow finished the first day in fifth position on the combined timesheets, his fast and consistent rhythm putting him less than 0.2s outside of the top three and he is confident that he has the speed to challenge for a fifth front row start of the 2013 World Championship in tomorrow’s qualifying.

Smith’s first experience of the short but technically challenging Laguna Seca track was a positive one and he was impressively close to the best pace after delivering another confident and assured performance.

The 22-year-old was able to sample the world-renowned and jaw-dropping Corkscrew section for the first time on a MotoGP bike this morning and he set the ninth best time while working on improving the set-up of his YZR-M1 machine. Smith then produced an incredible display in FP2, the British rookie lapping 1.5s faster than he did this morning.

Although he lost one position and ended the day 10th on combined rankings, the gap between Smith and the fastest time in both sessions was slashed in half and his best pace of 1.22.767 was less than 0.5s away from second position.

Cal Crutchlow 5th 1.22.457 - 23 Laps :
“I was happy to be fastest this morning although I knew the conditions were not ideal and that the lap times would be faster in the second session. Unfortunately I didn’t make the step I was looking for and the issues are in the first and third timed sectors. I am fastest in the second and fourth splits so if we can improve the weak points I am confident I can be much closer to the front. The problem is stopping the bike and I don’t have much grip but at least in T2 and T4 I am very strong. The good thing is I know where we need to improve and I am sure that my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew will give me an improved package tomorrow and I am confident I will be battling for the front row again in qualifying. We know we can improve but today’s performance was very impressive from Marc. He has come here and been fastest after a couple of hours so hopefully we can get closer to him.”

Bradley Smith 10th 1.22.767 - 24 Laps :
"Obviously the first day on track in Laguna Seca is exciting and actually it has been a quite positive one for us, especially this afternoon when the track conditions improved a lot. We were able to try several settings, both front and rear, and I believe that we found the right way for tomorrow. I think a gap of 0.7 sec is a good step for the first day, although we have to consider that this is a very short track and it might be one or 1,2 seconds on a normal one, but it's been a good start. I’m pleased to say that I like the track, the Corkscrew and the Rainey corner are probably my favorites but I still have to be very careful on the right hand side here, as it seems very tricky. At the moment I’m still building confidence, particularly in Turn 3 and 4. But all in all a really good start to the weekend and I’m looking forward to continuing like this."
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