The Daredevils Are Here: Americas GP Friday Recap
Let the weekend commence! The 10th Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas opened its gates at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, today and the track saw crashes, surprise stars, and a taste of the nail-biting racing to come.
Today there were two rounds of Free Practice sessions and fans entering the gates from all over the world. An exciting update to start off the day: both Miguel Oliviera of CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team and Joan Mir of Respol Honda Team have been declared fit to ride this weekend and will compete for the Americas GP trophy.
A couple other key riders will be watching from the sidelines this weekend, one of them eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez of the Respol Honda Team. After winning 7 out of 9 Grand Prix in Austin, Marquez is following the advice of his medical team and allowing his body to fully heal after a costly error in the opening round this year.
Joining him is 2022 Americas GP champion Enea Bastianini of Ducati Lenovo Team. Bastianini, who was struck during the Tissot Sprint in Portugal, will wait two more weeks to fully recover from his right shoulder injury. While fans will miss these two in action, experienced substitute riders Stefan Bradl of Respol Honda and Michele Pirro of Ducati Lenovo are ready to step up to the plate in Austin.
MotoGP’s Practice 1 kicked the weekend off fast. A great performance from Luca Marini of Mooney VR46 Racing Team put him at the top of the charts while Fabio Quartararo of Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP was two tenths of a second behind. Big hitters like Marco Bezzecchi of Mooney VR46 Racing Team and Miguel Oliveira sat outside the top 10, meaning they crossed their fingers for a dry track for Practice 2.
The skies held off, thankfully, and the riders tore up the track – some more literally than others. The yellow flag made an appearance throughout the session as Oliveira took a tumble down Big Red and, on the last flying laps, Johann Zarco of Prima Primac Racing crashed out causing Joan Mir to take evasive action and hit the pavement himself.
By the end of it, Jorge Martin of Prima Pramac Racing took the top spot with Francesco Bagnaia of Ducati Lenovo Team one tenth of a second behind. Alex Rins of LCR Honda CASTROL, Marini, Alex Marquez of Gresini Racing MotoGP, Maverick Viñales of Aprilia Racing, Quartararo, Brad Binder of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Aleix Espargaro of Aprilia Racing, and Jack Miller of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing closed out the top 10. These lucky riders bypass Qualifying 1 and head straight to Qualifying 2 tomorrow, giving them the best chance at prime grid position for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
In Practice 1, Diogo Moreira, racing for MT Helmets – MSI in Moto3, clocked the fastest lap, shortly followed by a strong performance in Moto2 from Jake Dixon, racing for Asterlus GASGAS Aspar M2. Riders in Moto3 remained on slicks for Practice 2 in case of rain, and in the closing minutes, Ayumu Sasaki of Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP set the fastest time of the day. Pedro Acosta rode quickest for Moto2 amid a brief weather delay in P2 which caused riders to bring their bikes to the pits.
This year, it’s a two-for-one race weekend at COTA. Tomorrow morning through the afternoon will be the MotoGP, Moto3, and Moto2 qualifying rounds, followed by the Tissot Sprint race. The Sprint is a 10-lap dog fight that enables riders to go all out in a true battle to the finish line with some of the most exciting head-to-head’s all weekend. Stay tuned to COTA and MotoGP social media for real-time updates and check the COTA blog for detailed breakdowns throughout the weekend.