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Austin MotoGP: Marquez from Espargaro in opening practice

Marc Marquez fastest during Free Practice 1 for the 2014 Austin MotoGP round held at the Circuit of the Americas, Texas, round two of 18.
CLICK HERE to view the Free Practice 1 results for the 2014 Austin MotoGP round held at the Circuit of the Americas, Texas.

  • Marc Marquez dominates FP1 in Austin.
  • Top Open class rider Aleix Espargaro vaults into a late second place.
  • Valentino Rossi top Yamaha in fourth, Andrea Dovizioso lead Ducati in fifth.
  • Technical problems interrupt session for Alvaro Bautista, Cal Crutchlow and Nicky Hayden.

Marc Marquez dominated opening practice for the Austin MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas, round two of the 2014 season.

The reigning champion and round one winner set a scorching pace from the start, spending much of the 45 minutes well over one-second clear of the field.

Marquez's best lap was a 2m 4.704s on his tenth of 15 laps. Marquez set a race lap record of 2m 4.242s on his way to becoming the youngest ever MotoGP race winner during last year's inaugural Austin round.

Open class Aleix Espargaro rocketed up to second place in the closing minutes with a lap time 0.887s from Marquez, whose Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa likewise slotted into a late third to be the only other rider within one-second of the top.

That pushed top Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi down to fourth place, 1.268s behind Marquez, after spending much of the session in second position.

While Marquez starts the weekend as the clear favourite, Rossi struggled to a distant sixth at Austin last year and is thus seeking a strong performance to confirm his upturn in form after fighting Marquez for victory in Qatar. Rossi was sixth quickest and two seconds off Marquez in FP1 last year.

Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, playing catch-up in the championship after falling from the lead on the opening lap in Qatar, was just twelfth fastest (+2.067s) this morning and again visibly unhappy.

Bridgestone has reverted to the 2013 spec medium rear tyre this weekend - without the 2014 heat resistant coating that Lorenzo has struggled with - due to production delays, but it didn't favour Lorenzo in FP1.

Marquez dived under Lorenzo at the final turn of his final lap of the morning, then wheelied over the line.

The Open class and Ducati riders can choose either the soft or medium rear compound, while the other (Factory) riders can opt for the medium or hard.

Like Aleix Espargaro and Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso made a late burst to finish the session in fifth place for Ducati (+1.575s) despite suffering sickness all week. Team-mate Cal Crutchlow enjoyed one of his strongest rides of 2013 at Austin, claiming fourth place for Tech 3 Yamaha and within reach of the podium despite not being among the riders to have tested previously at the track.

The Englishman, hindered by electronic problems on his Ducati debut in Qatar, was forced to coast his Ducati back down pit lane after ten minutes with some form of technical issue on his way to seventh place.

As well as Rossi, Austin will be a big test for the likes Aleix Espargaro, plus front row starters Bradley Smith and Alvaro Bautista since - unlike at Losail - they do not have a pre-season testing advantage over the Factory riders.

While Espargaro - who saw a shock Qatar pole position chance end in a double fall, before scoring a career best fourth in the race - leapt up the order on the special Open softer rear tyre, he should have plenty of room to improve after starting from scratch in terms of set-up data for his Forward Yamaha at COTA.

Bautista's weekend got off to a regrettable start when he was forced to abandon his Gresini Honda at turn one of his out lap, returning on a scooter before concluding the session in tenth.

Smith had an incident free morning to lead the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 challenge in sixth, 1.632s. Having put in a considerable amount of work to adapt to the 2014 tyres, Smith was among the most vocal of those against this weekend's return to the 2013 medium.

Like Bautista and Crutchlow, home star Nicky Hayden also suffered a technical problem and was forced to park his Open class Aspar Honda in the closing minutes. Hayden remained the top RCV1000R rider in 13th place, +2.746s.

One place behind Hayden was countryman Colin Edwards (Forward Yamaha), starting his final home Texas event after announcing on Thursday that he will retire at the end of this season.

Free Practice 2 will take place this afternoon, while weather forecasts warn of possible rain on Sunday.

Free Practice 1:
1. Marc Marquez
2. Aleix Espargaro
3. Dani Pedrosa
4. Valentino Rossi
5. Andrea Dovizioso
6. Bradley Smith
7. Cal Crutchlow
8. Stefan Bradl
9. Andrea Iannone
10. Alvaro Bautista
11. Pol Espargaro
12. Jorge Lorenzo
13. Nicky Hayden
14. Colin Edwards
15. Yonny Hernandez
16. Karel Abraham
17. Hector Barbera
18. Hiroshi Aoyama
19. Scott Redding
20. Danilo Petrucci
21. Michael Laverty
22. Broc Parkes
23. Mike Di Meglio

Tagged as: Honda , Marquez

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April 11, 2014 5:01 PM

I bet Lorenzo was not happy with that move Marquez pulled on him on their last lap! Also, I think vale was slightly quicker on his last lap than his time suggests as he was held up by Bradl.

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