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Austin MotoGP: Friday sweep for Marquez

19 April 2013

MotoGP rookie Marc Marquez finished the opening day of the inaugural MotoGP at Austin, Texas with a half-second advantage over the rest of the field.

After a cool and slippery opening practice, much warmer conditions and improved grip greeted the 26-riders for the afternoon session.

Marquez's morning best was soon broken, with LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl rocketing up the order from ninth to lead the early stages.

The German was then pushed back down the timesheet, but returned to complete an all-RC213V top three behind Marquez and Dani Pedrosa on his final lap.

Marquez slashed 2.7s from his FP1 time but was still several seconds off his best in the private March test, when he was quickest on all three days. Team-mate Pedrosa was 0.554s behind Marquez on Friday, with Bradl 1.142s adrift.

Bradl's late rise came at the expense of Yamaha's world champion and Qatar winner Jorge Lorenzo, who was demoted to fourth (+1.6s). Lorenzo's team-mate Valentino Rossi snatched fifth (+1.7s) from Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow on his final lap.

The Repsol Honda, LCR Honda and Factory Yamaha Teams attended the private test in March, making Crutchlow the top rider to debut on Friday.

After an impressive fifth place - best of the non-testers - in the morning session, Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso pulled off track with a technical problem just before the midway stage in the afternoon. The Italian later returned to retain his top Desmosedici place, in seventh (+2.2s). Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda), American Nicky Hayden (Ducati) and local Texan Ben Spies (Ducati) completed the top ten.

Aleix Espargaro rose from 15th in FP1 to resume his usual place at the head of the CRT timesheets, in eleventh, this afternoon. Team-mate Randy de Puniet was kicked off his Aprilia in dramatic fashion on his way to 14th, with PBM's Yonny Hernandez and Tech 3's Bradley Smith between the two Aspar riders.

Fellow rookie Andrea Iannone (Pramac) was again the slowest of the manufacturer riders, but at least improved by three places relative to FP1.

Texan Colin Edwards finished his first day at 'home' in a disappointing 23rd for Forward Racing, with local wild-cards Blake Young (Attack Performance) and Mike Barnes (GP Tech Suzuki) again propping up the timesheets.

Austin is the first event where the CRT riders have a softer specification rear tyre relative to the manufacturer riders. CRT rear tyre choice is soft and medium, while manufacturer riders have medium and hard compounds.

Third practice takes place on Saturday morning, after which the top ten riders will be granted direct access to the second and final part of the new qualifying format.

Friday practice (2):
1. Marc Marquez
2. Dani Pedrosa
3. Stefan Bradl
4. Jorge Lorenzo
5. Valentino Rossi
6. Cal Crutchlow
7. Andrea Dovizioso
8. Alvaro Bautista
9. Nicky Hayden
10. Ben Spies
11. Aleix Espargaro
12. Yonny Hernandez
13. Bradley Smith
14. Randy De Puniet
15. Andrea Iannone
16. Karel Abraham
17. Claudio Corti
18. Hiroshi Aoyama
19. Danilo Petrucci
20. Michael Laverty
21. Lukas Pesek
22. Bryan Staring
23. Colin Edwards
24. Hector Barbera
25. Blake Young
26. Mike Barnes