Zarco beats Miller to top spot in Americas MotoGP practice

Johann Zarco. Picture: MotoGP.com

Johann Zarco has beaten fellow Ducati rider Jack Miller to the fastest lap in Friday practice for MotoGP’s Grand Prix of the Americas.

Zarco set a 2:02.542s on his Pramac Racing entry in the late time attacks in Free Practice 2 around the Circuit of The Americas, leaving him 0.247s clear of the Ducati Lenovo Team’s Miller.

While Maverick Viñales made the top 10, and hence is provisionally on for direct passage to Qualifying 2 on Saturday afternoon (local time), Aprilia Racing team-mate and championship leader Aleix Espargaro ended up 11th.

Alex Rins was fastest in Free Practice 1 with a 2:04.007s on his Suzuki Ecstar entry, and that lap was the best on combined times until the 10th minute of the second session.

It was at that point that Gresini Racing’s Enea Bastianini set a 2:03.783s on his old Ducati and then factory rider Miller a 2:03.567s.

Viñales split them in the 21st minute when he set a 2:03.7072 on the #12 RS-GP, riding on a hard front Michelin tyre and medium rear like the vast majority of the field.

Rins was early to switch to a soft rear tyre, using it to reclaim the ascendancy at the halfway mark of the session as he wheeled his GSX-RR to a 2:03.030s.

Francesco Bagnaia, however, was still running around on a used medium rear when he went second-quickest in the 29th minute on his Ducati Lenovo Team entry.

As such, the top five with a quarter of an hour to go was Rins, Bagnaia, Miller, Viñales, and last-start winner Aleix Espargaro.

Sixth through 10th was Zarco, Bastianini, Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha), Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar), and Andrea Dovizioso (WithU RNF Yamaha), with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) occupying 11th after being fifth-quickest in FP1 in his return from diplopia.

Quartararo went to fourth on a 2:03.967s, two minutes later, in one of his last efforts before ‘happy hour’ kicked off.

Once it had, Mir took over second spot with a 2:03.143s, then Martin moved into third with a 2:03.355s.

Marquez jumped from 11th to second with a 2:03.041s before Miller, who opted for soft rubber on the front and rear of his Desmosedici, moved the benchmark lap time to a 2:02.789s.

In the final minute before the chequered flag, Zarco laid down a 2:02.542s, Bastianini improved to third on a 2:03.022s, and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Ducati) slotted into 10th on a 2:03.562s.

The latter, in doing so, bumped Quartararo, but the 2021 MotoGP champion returned the favour with a 2:02.837s on his final lap.

As such, it was Zarco at the top of the timesheet, from Miller, Quartararo, Bastianini, Rins on his relatively early 2:03.030s, and Marquez.

Viñales took seventh on a 2:03.085s, ahead of Mir, Bagnaia, and Martin, the latter on the aforementioned 2:03.355s.

It meant Aleix Espargaro’s 2:03.370s with the chequered flag out was good enough for only 11th, with brother Pol 12th on his Repsol Honda.

Red Bull KTM rider Brad Binder was 13th-quickest, Remy Gardner finished 20th on his Tech3 KTM, and the Australian’s team-mate Raul Fernandez was 23rd.

Also deep in the field were Monster Energy Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli in 21st and Red Bull KTM’s Miguel Oliveira, who won the Indonesian Grand Prix two rounds ago, in 24th.

The next day’s action starts with Free Practice 3 on Sunday at 00:55 AEST, then Free Practice 4 at 04:30, Qualifying 1 at 05:10, and Qualifying 2 at 05:35.

Friday practice: Americas MotoGP Combined times

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time Session
1 5 J.ZARCO FRA Pramac Racing Ducati 2:02.542 FP2
2 43 J.MILLER AUS Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 2:02.789 FP2
3 20 F.QUARTARARO FRA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 2:02.837 FP2
4 23 E.BASTIANINI ITA Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 2:02.884 FP2
5 42 A.RINS ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 2:03.030 FP2
6 93 M.MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda 2:03.041 FP2
7 12 M.VIÑALES ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia 2:03.085 FP2
8 36 J.MIR ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 2:03.143 FP2
9 63 F.BAGNAIA ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 2:03.187 FP2
10 89 J.MARTIN ESP Pramac Racing Ducati 2:03.355 FP2
11 41 A.ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia 2:03.370 FP2
12 44 P.ESPARGARO ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda 2:03.438 FP2
13 33 B.BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 2:03.538 FP2
14 10 L.MARINI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 2:03.562 FP2
15 04 A.DOVIZIOSO ITA WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 2:03.706 FP2
16 73 A.MARQUEZ ESP LCR Honda CASTROL Honda 2:03.795 FP2
17 30 T.NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 2:04.074 FP2
18 49 F.DI GIANNANTONIO ITA Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 2:04.367 FP2
19 72 M.BEZZECCHI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 2:04.463 FP2
20 87 R.GARDNER AUS Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 2:04.535 FP2
21 21 F.MORBIDELLI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 2:04.664 FP2
22 40 D.BINDER RSA WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 2:04.679 FP2
23 25 R.FERNANDEZ ESP Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 2:04.770 FP2
24 88 M.OLIVEIRA POR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 2:05.342 FP2

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