MotoGP: More From The Red Bull Grand Prix Of The Americas

MotoGP: More From The Red Bull Grand Prix Of The Americas

© 2024, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By Michael Gougis.

Although there were new liveries and leathers, it was familiar faces atop the timesheets on Friday at the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas in Austin. The new-look Prima Pramac factory Ducati of Jorge Martin was devastating at a track where he struggled last year. Marc Marquez, in the pale blue of Gresini Racing, rebounded from what he called a difficult first session to finish in the top three at a track he has dominated in the past. And Maverick Vinales, who has run up front at the past two race weekends and won the Sprint race in Portugal, put together two solid sessions, hoping to add consistency to the sheer speed of the Aprilia.

 

Jorge Martin (89) was untouchable in the last Grand Prix race in Portugal and smashed the COTA lap record on Friday. Photo by Michael Gougis.

Martin’s 2:01.397 in the second session beat the old outright lap record by 0.495 seconds. He was second behind Vinales in the first practice session. In the second session, Vinales was less than a tenth of a second behind Martin.

 

Maverick Vinales (12). Photo by Michael Gougis.

 

Marc Marquez says he had machine problems in the first session, but not all of his difficulties could be blamed on the bike. Marquez still says he is transforming his riding style to suit the Ducati Desmosedici GP23 fielded by Gresini. 

 

Marc Marquez (93). Photo by Michael Gougis.

 

Francesco Bagnaia typically devotes all of Friday to race pace setup, and has had to fight his way through Q1 more often than he’d probably like. A late flyer of a lap put him into P4, safely into final qualifying, and the reigning World Champion called it the best Friday he’s had in a long time.

 

Francesco Bagnaia (1). Photo by Michael Gougis.

 

2021 MotoGP World Champion Fabio Quartararo showed up in Texas with a new two-year factory Yamaha contract. But Quartararo says the bike still isn’t close to the pace of the European brands, and being the quickest rider on a Japanese bike isn’t much solace when all six of them are at the bottom of the timesheets.

 

Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo by Michael Gougis.

 

American Joe Roberts led the first Moto2 session before finishing second, but struggled to 14th-fastest in the second session. Roberts and the team have been plagued by small technical issues this season, but when the bike is right, Roberts has run with the leaders.

 

Joe Roberts (16) and Jake Dixon (96) in Moto2 practice at COTA. Dixon is returning from an injury suffered in the first round of the season. Photo by Michael Gougis.

 

MotoAmerica brought the King Of The Baggers to the weekend as a support series, and the bellowing beasts did not fail to disappoint, judging by the gasps and shouts from journalists watching the brief Challenge race on the video monitors. When all the sliding and bumping was over, Troy Herfoss took the victory.

 

Troy Herfoss (17) was quickest in the first practice session and won the King Of The Baggers Challenge. Photo by Michael Gougis.

 

When Alpinestars introduces a new airbag protection system, it typically demonstrates by inflating one strapped onto a volunteer. This year’s volunteer for the new Tech-Air 7X system was J.D. Beach, who is slated to rejoin the MotoAmerica Superbike class this season.

 

Alpinestars’ Heath Cofran, left, introduces MotoAmerica Superbike racer J.D. Beach to the crowd gathered at the Alpinestars hospitality at COTA. Photo by Michael Gougis.

 

 

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