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MotoGP Americas GP: Marini leads Quartararo in FP1

VR46 Ducati rider Luca Marini topped the opening practice session for the MotoGP Americas Grand Prix, as Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo made a strong start to the weekend in second.

Luca Marini, VR46 Racing Team 
.

Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

MotoGP’s return to Americas in Texas this weekend sees a VR46 rider in the lead of the championship for the first time, after Marco Bezzecchi took victory in the Argentina GP two weeks ago.

A late tumble for the championship leader in the latter stages time attack left Bezzecchi down in 13th, as his team-mate stole the headlines.

A 2m03.250s on a fresh soft rear tyre put Marini 0.150 seconds clear of the field, with the chasing pack led by Quartararo as the 2021 world champion looks to get his campaign off the ground properly at the Circuit of the Americas after a tough start to 2023.

The opening 15 minutes of the session at a gloomy-but-dry COTA was dominated by Gresini Ducati rider Alex Marquez.

Marquez – whose absent brother Marc has won at COTA all but twice since MotoGP first visited the Texan venue in 2013 – took over top spot seven minutes in with a 2m05.244s.

The Gresini rider would improve to a 2m04.222s with just under 32 of the 45-minute session left to run.

This would keep Marquez at the head of the standings for around 15 minutes before Quartararo, running a fresh medium rear on his factory Yamaha, took over with a 2m04.201s.

Quartararo, who has scored just 18 points from the opening two rounds, improved to a 2m04.125s prior to the majority of the field – including the Yamaha rider – switching to soft slicks for a late time attack.

Former team-mate Maverick Vinales made the first move on his Aprilia with a 2m03.897s to depose Quartararo, before Marini hit the top of the order with a 2m03.806s with three minutes left on the clock.

Quartararo wrestled top spot back with a 2m03.691s on his penultimate lap on fresh soft rubber, and though he improved to a 2m03.400s on his last effort, it wasn’t enough to overhaul Marini’s session-topping 2m03.250s.

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Johann Zarco completed the top three on his Pramac Ducati head of Marquez and KTM’s Jack Miller, who recovered from a slow tip-off on the exit of Turn 12 midway through the session to go fifth.

Jorge Martin, who is battling illness coming into this weekend, was sixth on his Pramac Ducati from reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia – the factory Ducati rider doing his best lap on medium rubber.

Vinales, LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami and KTM’s Brad Binder rounded out the top 10, which could prove crucial in deciding the qualifying groups for Saturday should forecast rain arrive in FP2 this afternoon.

Honda’s Joan Mir was just 0.108s outside of the top 10 in 11th as he makes his return to action having missed the Argentina GP with an ankle injury.

Franco Morbidelli, who led FP1 in the very early stages, faded to 12th on the sister Yamaha ahead of Bezzecchi after his late tumble.

LCR Honda’s Alex Rins ran in the top five in the closing stages of FP1 but found himself shuffled back to 14th due to a lap cancellation.

This put him ahead of the returning Miguel Oliveira of RNF Aprilia and his team-mate Raul Fernandez, with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro a mystifying 18th behind Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio.

Tech3 GASGAS rookie Augusto Fernandez was an early faller and ended FP1 in 19th from the trio of replacement riders, headed by Stefan Bradl (Marc Marquez’s Honda stand-in), Michele Pirro (Enea

Bastianini’s Ducati stand-in) and Jonas Folger (Pol Espargaro’s Tech3 stand-in).

FP2 for the MotoGP Americas GP is at 9pm BST.

MotoGP Americas GP - FP1 results

Cla Rider Bike Laps Time Gap
1 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 14 2'03.250  
2 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 15 2'03.400 0.150
3 France Johann Zarco Ducati 16 2'03.528 0.278
4 Spain Alex Marquez Ducati 16 2'03.551 0.301
5 Australia Jack Miller KTM 14 2'03.676 0.426
6 Spain Jorge Martin Ducati 15 2'03.708 0.458
7 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 14 2'03.792 0.542
8 Spain Maverick Viñales Aprilia 16 2'03.897 0.647
9 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 16 2'04.139 0.889
10 South Africa Brad Binder KTM 17 2'04.204 0.954
11 Spain Joan Mir Honda 14 2'04.312 1.062
12 Italy Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 16 2'04.342 1.092
13 Italy Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 15 2'04.364 1.114
14 Spain Alex Rins Honda 16 2'04.452 1.202
15 Portugal Miguel Oliveira Aprilia 13 2'04.661 1.411
16 Spain Raúl Fernández Aprilia 15 2'04.904 1.654
17 Italy Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati 16 2'04.906 1.656
18 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 14 2'05.054 1.804
19 Spain Augusto Fernandez KTM 17 2'05.732 2.482
20 Germany Stefan Bradl Honda 15 2'05.771 2.521
21 Italy Michele Pirro Ducati 13 2'05.772 2.522
22 Germany Jonas Folger KTM 12 2'08.176 4.926

 

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