MotoGP: Marc Marquez fastest overall in Friday practice at Indy

1 Comment

Marc Marquez is seeking to hit a Perfect 10 this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and he got off to a good start in this afternoon’s practices around the IMS road course.

Marquez, who has followed up his 2013 MotoGP title by winning all nine events so far in the 2014 season, threw down the fastest lap of the day at 1:32.882 on his Repsol Honda.

“It was not so bad, we came back from the holidays and had a slow start with the rain,” Marquez told the MotoGP website. “I’m happy because in the afternoon we could do a lot more work.

“The track grip changes each time we go out so we have to change the set up a lot. Hopefully, we get more dry track time tomorrow.”

Andrea Iannone of Italy was second behind Marquez in practice with a 1:33.104 on his Pramac Racing Ducati. Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo (1:33.424), Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso (1:33.432), and Marquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa (1:33.493) completed the Top 5 speeds from the combined sessions.

Today marked the first day of action for the MotoGP riders on their “new” IMS road course layout. Five of the 16 turns in the MotoGP layout were reconfigured as part of the course’s modifications over the winter.

So far, initial impressions among the riders appear to be solid.

“It was not one of the best tracks of the season, more for the quality of the asphalt [and the infield] bumps, not the [circuit],” seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi told the Indianapolis Star. “It looks like they make a very good result [with changes] to some corners, especially with the new surface.”

As for Marquez, he called the repaved infield section of the course “an improvement” with about the same grip as their old layout at IMS but with less bumps.

“With the layout, maybe for Honda, the older one was better, but now it’s more like a normal circuit and I think Yamaha will be a little bit closer to us,” he said. “But if we get our set-up right, we can be there to fight for the victory.”

Saturday will see two more practice sessions (9:55-10:40 a.m., 1:30-2 p.m. ET) and then qualifying (2:10 p.m.) for Sunday’s 27-lap race.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
0 Comments

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.