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The Action Begins in Austin for Grand Prix of The Americas

Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi kicked off the inaugural Grand Prix of the Americas weekend today with the first practice sessions at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. The morning’s first session delivered far slower times than had been recorded at the private test a few weeks ago with cold temperatures and little rubber on the track adding several seconds to the previous times. The afternoon saw the temperature double from the morning and lap times tumbled for all riders.

Reigning World Champion Lorenzo completed the first of the two sessions in second place and the second in fourth, improving by over two seconds. Teammate Rossi improved a place from sixth to fifth over the two sessions and also took a large chunk out of his morning time, shaving an impressive four seconds off by the end of the second practice.

Jorge Lorenzo, 4th, Time – 2’06.637

“In the morning we were competitive compared to our rivals but this afternoon when the track improved they had a better feeling and a better confidence to improve much more than us. We were unable to make profit from the improved track conditions. We need to improve the bike to gain some seconds. The track was better for everyone but for the moment it gives our rivals more confidence to go faster. We are better but still not enough.”

Valentino Rossi, 5th, Time – 2’6.868

“The practices are not so bad because we improved a lot compared to this morning and we could stay close to Jorge. Unfortunately the Hondas are very fast which we already knew from the test. We hope to make it better this weekend but especially Marquez is very fast and also Pedrosa and Bradl are faster than us so we have to work and try to improve for tomorrow.”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager

“That’s the first day in Austin done. We’re position four so of course we’re not so happy; we’re struggling a bit to find the correct grip. The morning session wasn’t great, it was cold and everybody struggled and in the afternoon we struggled a bit more. We are trying to find some extra grip, to drop the lap times we need more on the back. Hopefully tomorrow we can find the right way to improve and close the gap. It’s important to be on the front row and close to the fast lap times.”

Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director

“We know that the characteristics of this track are not the best for us. We still have one and a half days to work on our set up so we will focus on closing the gap to the front. Unfortunately this morning the track conditions were not good, we couldn’t work properly so we lost one session. We have identified the area we need to improve so I am optimistic that tomorrow we can make a big step.”

Crutchlow stars on Texas debut

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team’s Cal Crutchlow demonstrated what a fast learner he is today, the British rider immediately setting a fast and competitive pace on his debut at the spectacular new Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Texas. Faced with the difficult challenge of learning the long and technical track, which features 20 corners, the longest straight on the 18-round MotoGP calendar and a 134ft climb from the start line to the first corner, the 27-year-old excelled in both 45-minute practice sessions to challenge for the top six throughout. He impressively dropped his pace in this afternoon’s FP2 by well over four seconds compared to the opening 45-minute session to move up from eighth to sixth in the rankings. Crutchlow ended with a personal best time of 2.06.899 to finish just 0.031s behind Valentino Rossi. And all five riders that finished in front of the former World Supersport Champion have previous experience of COTA having attended a private test session at the state-of-the-art facility near Austin last month.

A slippery surface provided the biggest challenge for British rider Bradley Smith, who only felt confident enough to push anywhere close to his limit towards the end of FP2. Smith finished 13th fastest in FP1 and although he was able to shave close to four seconds off his pace this afternoon, he remained in the same position on the combined leaderboard. He finished the day with a quickest pace of 2.09.424 and the 22-year-old is confident that with more track knowledge to call upon tomorrow he will be challenging for a place inside the top 10.

Cal Crutchlow – 6th, Time – 2’06.899

“Firstly I want to say a huge thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew, management and staff at Yamaha and Dorna and COTA officials for helping us get out on track today. The fire in the garage on Wednesday night wasn’t the ideal start to the weekend but my crew have worked non-stop to get everything ready for today and I am proud to work with them. Today was always going to be difficult because this track is really technical, difficult to learn, and you need time to be able to learn all the secrets to go fast. So to be sixth fastest and make such big progress is pleasing. We expected the gap to the front to be quite big and honestly I thought I’d be a little bit further away. I got held up a few times on my good laps too so I’m sure I could have gone a bit faster. This track is amazing with so many different challenges from hard braking, fast straights and lots of changes of direction. We still have a lot of work to do and it will be difficult to be near the front in the race. I need to improve in the braking area. We need to calm the bike down but to be the best of those that didn’t test here is all I can really ask for.”

Bradley Smith – 13th, Time – 2’09.424

“It was great to finally be on track today and get a first taste of what is an amazing track but incredibly difficult to learn. After the fire in the garage on Wednesday night my crew and even my old team from Moto2 have been working flat-out to make sure we were ready. So just being on track felt like a big achievement today. This morning was very difficult because I have never ridden with such little grip, and that doesn’t help you learn the track. Going into this afternoon where we did have grip, it took me a while to actually adapt to the track. We improved the bike and I felt much more comfortable at the end and we have a direction to follow for tomorrow morning. What is critical is being able to put the bike where you want and at the moment I am struggling in that area. You have to be so specific here but I am happy to be four seconds faster this afternoon. That’s good progress but I need to make the next step. I know my weak points and I will be ready to make the improvements.”

2013 MotoGP United States

Circuit of The Americas 19/04/2013

1 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 2’05.031
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 2’05.585
3 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 2’06.173
4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 2’06.637
5 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 2’06.868
6 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 2’06.899
7 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 2’07.236
8 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 2’07.256
9 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 2’07.699
10 Ben Spies Ducati USA 2’08.034
11 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 2’08.299
12 Yonny Hernandez ART COL 2’09.374
13 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 2’09.424
14 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 2’09.739
15 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 2’09.860

Circuit Length:

Clear Sky