Martin sets Day 1 stunner as Bezzecchi fails to make Q2 cut

by | Apr 14, 2023 | Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, KTM, motoGP News, Yamaha

Martin sets Day 1 stunner as Bezzecchi fails to make Q2 cut

Roles reversed for Ducati’s young talents as the Spaniard topped Day 1 ahead of Bagnaia and Rins

It was blink-and-you-miss-it stuff to end the first day of action at COTA as the fastest riders on the planet attacked the track in Texas to secure Q2 spots for their chance of pole position in the Tissot Sprint and main race. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) drew first blood and came scarily close to lap record pace on a day with ever-changing circuit conditions. The Spaniard snatched the top spot from the top dog Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), as Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) excelled in the Americas once again putting his Honda in 3rd spot. 

The fight for Q2 glory

Rain clouds loomed over Austin Texas on Friday at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas but luckily the track time remained dry for MotoGP™ running. The riders got to grips with COTA once again in Practice 1, but Practice 2 was where we saw riders able to push on, and the times begin to tumble.

As ever, the battle for Q2 honours was well and truly underway as the riders attacked the track in Texas with the clock ticking in Practice 2. Ten minutes to go and red lights were flooding the timing screens with the riders pushing hard on the bumpy Circuit of the Americas. The bikes were making all sorts of shapes as the riders were finding the limits of their machinery and putting on a spectacular show.

The pace was getting hotter and hotter in the final ten minutes, with Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Pecco Bagnaia leading the way, until the reigning champion took charge and placed his factory Ducati at the top of the pile as the field began to return to the pits ahead of the final run on soft rubber.

Silence fell on the circuit as the riders returned to the pitlane in the calm before the storm. Minutes later a whole gaggle of riders went out on circuit for the final bite at the cherry. With Q2 spots up for grabs, the 2022 Championship rivals Bagnaia and Quartararo let the group take to the circuit and waited behind for clear space.

Crunch time had begun in MotoGP™ Practice 2, and it was the one-lap man Jorge Martin who put down a scintillating pace, moving the goalposts by almost half a second and leaving the rest to battle for the scraps. Bagnaia put in a hot lap soon after and despite an incredibly tidy final sector from the Italian, he was 0.063s shy of Martin’s lap time. Rins quickly followed pursuit and slotted his Honda into P3 to become the only non-Ducati in the top 5.

Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) went down and out soon after which brought out the yellow flags and collected the Repsol Honda man of Joan Mir. With the yellow flags out and with just under a minute left of play, the field was left unable to improve on their lap times and the state of play remained unchanged.

Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) was looking strong all day, and after topping Practice 1 the Italian finished the day in P4 on combined times. In the early stages of Practice 2, we saw incredible heroics from Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) who saved a massive moment in Practice 2 that nearly saw the Spaniard fly over the handlebars and into the COTA gravel trap. The Spaniard quickly composed himself and finished Day 1 inside the top 5.

Despite glimpses of form in Practice 1, it was a similar story for Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) who dropped down the order as the rest of the field improved their pace, with the Frenchman finishing the day 7th fastest. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), and Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) took the final Q2 spots in 8th, 9th, and 10th respectively.

Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) missed the cut by 0.037s, and in 11th spot, the Argentina GP winner will have to fight his way through Q1 for a chance at pole. The Italian will have to fend off Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda CASTROL), Johann Zarco, Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), and Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) who will all have to face Saturday’s Q1 session.

Game on ahead of Saturday’s action

Friday delivered a perfect appetiser in Austin, and with the qualifying and the Tissot Spring awaiting on Saturday, you do not want to miss a thing. Find out who will take the glory during Saturday’s action, and be sure not to miss any of the billing with Free Practice up first at 10:10 local time (GMT-5)!

Top 10 combined:
1. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) – 1:38.518
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) ) + 0.162
3. Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) + 0.249
4. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 0.315
5. Alex Marquez  + 0.391
6. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.426
7. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) + 0.488
8. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.553
9. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) + 0.562
10. Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) + 0.599 

FULL RESULTS!

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