MONTEREY, Calif. – Marc Marquez finished atop the timesheets on his first day of practice Friday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ahead of this weekend’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.
The Repsol Honda Team rider and championship leader led Stefan Bradl and Andrea Dovizioso, while the injured Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa finished sixth and eleventh quickest.
There was a dramatic improvement in conditions between the two Friday sessions. Following a cool and misty start to the day when Cal Crutchlow had finished fastest for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, the sun came out in the afternoon as Marquez registered 1:22.040 on his first ride at the notoriously tricky Californian circuit.
Second-placed Bradl was two tenths of a second slower than Marquez, with Dovizioso (Ducati Team) just fractions further adrift. The first group of five was rounded out by Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing) and the aforementioned Crutchlow, while leading CRT runner Aleix Espargaro again impressed by ending the day seventh for Power Electronics Aspar.
Both reigning title holder Lorenzo and erstwhile championship leader Pedrosa, who both missed last weekend’s German GP because of injury, passed medical check-ups on Friday. Lorenzo went on to finish second practice in a creditable sixth spot, while Pedrosa elected to sit out the first session before ending proceedings 11th in the second, but complaining of much pain in his left shoulder.
There was a stoppage of just under 20 minutes during the afternoon period, as American wildcard entry Blake Young – making his second appearance of the season after Austin, Texas – crashed his Attack Performance Racing bike on the exit of turn five. The red flags stayed out while marshals cleaned the track surface of oil, deposited during the accident. With three minutes to go, there was also trouble for Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, who stopped at turn three.