Star MotoGP rookie Marc Marquez is going to find it increasing hard to play down his Austin victory chances after completing a clean sweep of Friday practice for the inaugural event.
Third with the fastest lap in his debut MotoGP race in Qatar, the 20-year-old Moto2 champion arrived in Austin to great expectations after leading all three-days of a private Honda-Yamaha test at the same circuit in March.
The faultless form continued when Marquez was fastest for during the cold and slippery first Friday session. The Spaniard then increased his advantage to over 0.5s in the afternoon, when Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa
was best of the rest.
“I'm quite happy. We took the top time and, even though these are only practice sessions, this is important,” said Marquez.
Depending on the weather, and especially temperature, lap times should continue to substantially improve - Marquez's test best having been almost two-seconds quicker than his Friday time.
“I think that the key to this grand prix is that day-after-day, session-by-session, the grip levels will improve," confirmed Marquez. “We have to be aware of this and also to the temperatures - which vary a lot, with much more heat in the afternoon than in the morning.
"We need to find which tyre works best for every session, and above all we will be working with the race in mind. Let's see if tomorrow we can continue along the same upward path."
Honda LCR's Stefan Bradl was over one-second slower than Marquez in third, with Qatar winner and world champion Jorge Lorenzo
the top non-RCV rider in fourth for Yamaha.
If he wins during the first half of the season, Marquez will become the youngest 500cc/MotoGP race winner of all time, taking the record from American double champion Freddie Spencer.
Meanwhile team-mate Pedrosa will be seeking his first podium of the season on Sunday, after slipping back to fourth in Qatar.
"Today was a difficult day, because the track had no grip and in general I think all the riders had problems leaning the bike over in the corners," he said.
"In the morning the tyres took a bit of a beating, but in the afternoon the situation improved a little. In the second session we were able to ride a little better, although I hope that the circuit grip levels increase in the run up to the race, so that we can also improve with them."