Marc Marquez is fastest once again in Austin, the reigning world champion topping the final session of free practice ahead of qualifying. But the gap is definitely closing: his advantage at the end of FP4 was down to just a third of a second, with riders now focusing in this final session on race set up rather than setting a fast lap.
Andrea Iannone ended the session in 2nd, setting an impressive pace using Dani Pedrosa's slipstream. Iannone ended 0.367 behind Marquez, and nearly a tenth ahead of Pedrosa. Stefan Bradl took 4th on the LCR Honda, making it three Hondas in the top four, while Valentino Rossi rounded out the top five.
FP4 also gave a glimpse of possible tire use for the race. Marquez and Pedrosa spent almost all the session on the harder tire, while Rossi and the other Yamaha riders put in the time on the softer of the two options for the Factory Option riders. Iannone, like the other Ducatis, worked with the medium tire, the harder of their two options, the soft wearing much too fast to be able to actually use in the race.
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.
Results of both Superpole 1 and Superpole 2:
The desperate search for new headlines continues...
Marc Marquez didn't set the fastest-ever lap at Austin's Circuit of the Americas Saturday during the third qualifying practice; His fast lap of 2'03.046 fell four-hundredths of a second shy of his own lap record from last year. Even so, the reigning world champion ended the third free practice seven-tenths clear of the pack in the session that sets the table for the two MotoGP qualifying practices later in the day.
Stefan Bradl managed the second-best time, just eclipsing Honda factory rider Dani Pedrosa (3rd). Andrea Dovizioso continued his strong practice showing with a fourth-fastest time on his Ducati, nearly nine-tenths of a second behind the leader.
Bradley Smith rebounded from his struggles in FP2 -- where he was 10th fastest -- to grab the fifth spot. Smith was the final rider to finish within a second of Marquez and even topped the sheets in one of the four lap sectors.
But what's good for Smith is worrisome for Yamaha. Not only did rival Honda grab the top three times, Smith, in fifth, is the top Yamaha. Factory rider Jorge Lorenzo, who started strong in FP3, faded late to seventh, finishing just behind Andrea Iannone's Ducati (6th).
Efren Vazquez, fastest rider in Friday's final free practice, showed no signs of slowing down Saturday morning during FP3 at Austin's Circuit of the Americas. Vazquez's time of 2'16.524 not only put him at the top of the timesheet, he was the sole rider to dip into the 2'16s during the breezy, cool, morning session.
Alex Marquez put in a fast final lap to grab the second spot, more than half a second behind the leader. Alex Rins took third, just another tenth behind Marquez. Rins third gives Honda the top three times heading into qualifying. Niccolo Antonelli grabbed fourth as the top KTM. Isaac Vinales (5th) and Jakob Kornfeil (6th) rounded out the top six. The top six riders are all within a second of the leader.
Jack Miller -- winner of the last race at Qatar -- led much of the session but with seven minutes left lap times started to fall, pushing him into seventh at slightly more than a second behind.
The Russian round of World Superbikes, due to be held at Moscow Raceway on 21st September, has been canceled. Citing the political iinstability caused by the situation in Ukraine, Dorna announced that the round would be canceled for this year, though the intention is to continue to run the race next year and for the rest of the contract. The situation surrounding Ukraine and the Crimea has made it impossible for several companies involved in organizing the Russian race to guarantee they can be ready in time for the race in September.
The press release issued by Dorna appears below:
WSBK Russian Round cancellation
Barcelona (Spain), Saturday 12 April 2014 - DWO and YMS Promotion have decided to cancel the WSBK Russian Round which was scheduled to be held at Moscow Raceway on September 21st 2014.
The current political situation affects the capabilities of a number of key partner companies essential to run the event.
Parties regret the decision, but are confident that the strong partnership between DWO and YMS Promotion will prevail.
It is a common intention to continue with the organisation of the WSBK Russian Round in 2015 and for the remainder of the contract period up to 2021.
How do you solve a problem like Marc Marquez? The short answer is you don't. You can push as hard as you like, beat everyone else on the grid, but try as you might, you still find yourself a second or more behind the reigning world champion. Marquez came to Texas, he saw, and he conquered. Just like last year. And nobody seems capable of stopping him.
Valentino Rossi could only shake his head in dismay. 'Today he was very strong. He is on another level,' Rossi said. Was it down to the bike, was it Marquez? Sure, Austin is a Honda track – first-gear corners are still where the Honda has the advantage – but the bike wasn't really the issue. 'He makes the difference,' Rossi said. Sure, the bike was good, but it was mostly down to Marquez' riding. Speaking to the Italian press, Rossi had a single word to describe Marquez' riding: 'bellissima'. Beautiful.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice in Austin:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Austin:
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Aragon:
Thanks to the homologation agreements that have been reached, the arrival of Bimota brings the number of manufacturers competing in World Superbike to nine. Their bike is the usual blend of bespoke chassis and off the shelf engine, with a BMW S1000RR power plant being at the heart of their BB3 project. Needing only 125 bikes to be available for sale before the bike is eligible to score points, down from 1000, Bimota will still not be eligible to score points until that number is reached. Ayrton Badovini and Christian Iddon are able at least to run their EVO class bikes in the races even if they can't yet score points. It is estimated that they will reach the required 125 bikes in four months.