Marquez & Miller Split By Just 0.015 At CotaMarquez tops both sessions as Miller emerges to lead the resistance in both the wet and dry

Fastest in the wet, fastest in the dry: Day 1 at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas firmly belonged to Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). It’s a familiar story for a Friday at COTA, but the lead up to the event has been anything but for the number 93. Still his speed at the venue impresses, but Ducati Lenovo Team’s Jack Miller was a very close second and Marquez’ 2:04.164 only gave him an advantage of 0.015 over the Australian’s effort. Miller was within just over a tenth and a half in the wet too. World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) claimed third, a little further back, but a lone star for Yamaha in a top eight populated by Ducati and Honda.

FP1
Marc Marquez started the day off on top, a 2:15.872 in the damp conditions enough to deny Miller by 0.167s. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) rounded out the top three, fresh from arm pump surgery and back up at the sharp end.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) were the only other two riders to get within a second of Marquez’ pace in the opening 45-minute stint as a dry line started to form at the end of the session, with Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and 2019 winner Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) next up.

Second in the Championship, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), claimed P8, 1.4s off Marquez, with World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo struggling in the mixed conditions – it was P15 for the Frenchman…

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was the sole crasher, a lowside at the end of the session at Turn 15.

FP2
Dry conditions and sunnier skies greeted the premier class riders in the afternoon, setting the grid up for a crucial 45 minutes. Wet weather is forecast to disrupt qualifying day, so FP2 could well decide who is heading into Q2 automatically.

Immediately, Captain America set the pace. Six-time COTA winner Marc Marquez was half a second clear of Miller after 20 minutes of dry track time, with just seven riders within a second of the number 93 in the early stages. Miller then cut Marquez’ advantage to 0.123s with just under 15 minutes to go, as soft tyres were then fitted for a mini Friday afternoon qualifying sprint.

Bagnaia and Nakagami were the first riders to beat Marquez’ time, the Japanese rider the faster of the two, as Miller then went P2 ahead of teammate Pecco. An Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) crash at Turn 18 and an Oliveira tumble at Turn 12 then brought out the yellow flags for a brief period, meaning plenty of lap times were cancelled – although both riders were ok.

Quartararo then shot to P1 by over two tenths before Marc Marquez – after slipping to the lower ends of the top 10 – returned to the top with another benchmark. Miller threatened to take top spot but the Aussie’s final lap was just shy and truly only just – leaving only 0.015 separating the duo at the end of play.

Combined timesheets
Behind Marquez and Miller comes Quartararo overall, and then it’s another double Honda threat as Pol Espargaro takes P4 and Nakagami rounds out the top five.

Bagnaia is in the mix in P6, the Italian just under half a second away from Marquez’ time, with Pramac Racing pair Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco seventh and eighth respectively. 2019 Austin winner Rins and Misano podium finisher Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) complete a top 10 covered by 0.6.

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) is the man in 11th by just 0.016, and with rain very possible for FP3, that could be a crucial couple of hundredths. Reigning Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is in P13 for the moment too, and Aleix Espargaro finds himself down in P19.

Andrea Dovizioso (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was notable on Day 1 in a slightly different way, the Italian the second Yamaha in P14 as he continues to make progress on his new, 2019 M1.

That’s a wrap on Day 1, it’s now time to saddle up for Saturday and look to the skies. Rain or no rain? We’ll find out soon enough in FP3, and then make sure to tune in for qualifying from 14:10 (GMT -5)… can Marquez keep his incredible pole record rolling? Or will there be a shuffle with the weather threatening overhead?

MotoGP™ Friday top five:
1 Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda Team – Honda – 2’04.164
2 Jack Miller – Ducati Lenovo Team – Ducati – +0.015
3 Fabio Quartararo – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – +0.202
4 Pol Espargaro – Repsol Honda Team – Honda – +0.388
5 Takaaki Nakagami* – LCR Honda Idemitsu – Honda – +0.448

*Independent Team rider

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