By Lisa Lewis
Marc VDS rider Scott Redding topped Friday practice as the Moto2 riders improved their times and knowledge of the Circuit of the Americas.
Moto2 remained a lot closer in terms of times as the temperature rose and the track gained grip, developing a racing line, with a particularly hectic final five minutes during which Redding posted his lead time of 2m 12.481
The Briton improved greatly on his first practice position of 23rd and headed a mixed bag of bikes, teams and nationalities. The top six riders represented six different nations and four different manufacturers featured inside the top ten.
Redding's closest challenger was fellow Kalex competitor Xavier Simeon, the Belgian was 0.3 seconds adrift for the Desguaces La Torre Zelos team.
Frenchman Johann Zarco completed the top three for the Came IodaRacing Project and was the fastest of the Suter machines.
Nico Terol, who has a strong record at the other American round in Indianapolis where he is a three-time winner in the 125cc class, was fourth for Mapfre Aspar. He was also fastest in the morning practice session.
NGM Mobile Forward Racing's Simone Corsi finished fifth fastest. The Italian was the quickest of the Speed Up riders and just ahead of Mika Kallio, the second Marc VDS rider comfortably inside the top ten in sixth.
Tuenti HP 40's Pol Espargaro will be looking for his sixth consecutive pole on Saturday, but struggled and spent much of practice in 21st before setting the track alive in the last ten minutes of track time.
The current championship leader after taking victory in Qatar, Espargaro ended the session in contention for the top spot but had to settle for the seventh fastest overall time.
Former 125cc champion Mike Di Meglio, the only Motobi rider in the field, made a strong start at COTA for Jir but suffered a fast front-end crash with just minutes to go leaving him down in eighth.
Tuenti HP 40 riders Tito Rabat and Technomag carXpert's Dominique Aegerter completed the top ten.
Interwetten rider Tom Luthi arrived at the Austin track in a shock return after damaging his collarbone, elbow and arm at the Valencia test in February.
He was not expected to return to racing until round three at Jerez at the earliest but managed the 27th fastest time.
British riders Kyle Smith (Blusens Avintia) and Danny Kent (Tech 3) were 22nd and 25th respectively.
Tito Rabat and Marcel Schrotter collided early on, in what was a relatively incident free session for the Moto2 pack.