Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's race in Austin:
Those who fear a Marquez whitewash at the Circuit of the Americas could draw some comfort from the raw numbers on the timesheets as Saturday progressed. Marquez gap from Friday was cut dramatically, first to under a second in FP3, then to a third of a second in FP4, before being slashed to less than three tenths in qualifying. Is the end of Marquez' dominance at Austin in sight?
But raw numbers are deceptive. Sure, the gap in single lap times is small, but there is still no one who can get close to the reigning world champion. Marquez' four flying laps were faster than the best laps by any other rider on the grid. Second place man Dani Pedrosa's fastest lap was still slower than Marquez' slowest. In FP4, Marquez punched out four laps in the 2'03s, while the best anyone else could do is lap in the 2'04s. During the morning FP3 session, Marquez racked up five 2'03s, while only Pedrosa could manage two 2'03s, Stefan Bradl, Andrea Dovizioso and Bradley Smith managing only a single solitary lap under 2'04.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Austin:
Thomas Luthi set the fastest Moto2 lap of the day to top the timesheet in the third practice session Saturday at Austin's COTA. Luthi's 2'10.871 didn't match the top times from 2013 or even 2014's FP2, but it was enough to put him six-hundreths clear of Maverick Vinales' second-fastest showing.
Tito Rabat, winner in Qatar, finished as the third fastest rider headed into qualifying later Saturday. Jonas Folger (4th) and Johann Zarco (fifth) completed the top five. Zarco, fastest in the prior two practices, was unable to dip into the 2'10s as he did on Friday. In fact, Luthi's top FP3 time Saturday didn't match Zarco's fastest lap in Friday's FP2 of 2'10.839.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Austin:
Johann Zarco made this point clear to the Moto2 field: The first free practice was no fluke. Zarco, who finished sixth in the race here last year, set the fastest time for the second practice in a row Friday at the COTA circuit with a 2'10.839. He was the only Moto2 rider to dip into the 2'10s.
The time is two-tenths of a second better than Dominic Aegerter's second fastest showing and just three-tenths slower than the pole-position time from last year (set by Scott Redding).
Tito Rabat also upped his pace from FP1 but only closed to third-fastest, three-tenths shy of of Zarco's time. Maverick Vinales (4th) and Xavier Simeon (5th) ended their day only four-thousandths of a second apart.
For all joy in the Caterham-Suter team with Zarco's pace, there also came a sobering reality: Teammate and lone American in Moto2 -- former AMA superbike champion and Moto2 rookie Josh Herrin -- nearly gave the team the odd distinction of having both the fastest and slowest times on the sheet with his 30th-place showing, nearly four seconds off the pace.
With seven minutes remaining in the first Moto2 free practice at the Circuit of the Americas Friday, Johann Zarco claimed the top spot and didn't let go. Zarco's 2'11.788 put him one-tenth of a second clear of the tight field at the Texas track. Xavier Simeon, who spent most of FP1 lingering around the bottom of the top 10, set a final, blistering lap with no time remaining to claim the second-fastest time.
Tito Rabat, race winner in Qatar, managed third, just ahead of Dominic Aegerter (4th) and Simone Corsi (5th). Takaaki Nakagami, who led much of the early session dropped into sixth as the pace quickened at the end.
Maverick Vinales, last year's Moto3 champion, settled into seventh, a tenth ahead of Mattia Passini. Ant West, who low-sided while holding the fifth-fastest time with five minutes remaining, ended his first practice in ninth, followed by Jordo Torres.
Last year's winner, Nicolas Terol, managed only 22nd, which was six places ahead Josh Herrin (28th), the only American on the track in Texas for Moto 2.
2014 Austin MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Edwards Retires, Blandspeak Returns, And The Dearth Of US Racers
It was fitting – some might say inevitable – that Colin Edwards chose the Grand Prix of the Americas in his home state of Texas to announce his retirement. He had just spent the last couple of weeks at home, with his growing kids, doing dad stuff like taking them to gymnastics and baseball and motocross, then hosted a group, including current GP riders and a couple of journos, at his Bootcamp dirt track school. He had had time to mull over his future, then talk it over with his wife Ally, and come to a decision. There wasn't really a much better setting for the double World Superbike champion to announce he was calling it quits than sitting next to former teammate Valentino Rossi, the American he fought so memorably with in 2006, Nicky Hayden, the latest US addition to the Grand Prix paddock Josh Herrin, and with Marc Marquez, prodigy and 2013 MotoGP champion. It felt right. Sad, but right.
You can read the full story of Edwards' retirement here, but his announcement highlighted two different problems for motorcycle racing. One local, one global, and neither particularly easy to fix. The loss of Colin Edwards sees the MotoGP paddock, indeed all of international motorcycle racing, robbed of its most outspoken and colorful character. Edwards was a straight talker, with a colorful turn of phrase and uninhibited manner of speech. His interviews were five parts home truths, five parts witticisms and a handful of obscenities thrown in for good measure. He livened up press conferences, racing dinners, and casual conversations alike.
Press release previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of this weekend's race in Austin: