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Team Suzuki Ecstar in Top-5 on First Day in Austin

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Suzuki Press Office – April 10. The first day of practice for the Grand Prix of the Americas was hit by the weather today – as forecast – with rain mixing-up the order during the first practice session.

This meant that MotoGP™ riders experienced the Circuit of The Americas in wet conditions for the first time since the class has visited the track, meaning that Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders experienced their GSX-RR machines on rain tyres for the first time in anger this season.

The day was also made more hectic due to time delays, caused initially by the very wet track conditions and also by a dog running on the track, bringing the red flag out for 45-minutes. The weather then changed again and sunny conditions greeted riders later in the day, with the Tarmac getting dryer and riders attempting a quick-lap on slick tyres towards the end of the afternoon session.

The provisional classification sees Aleix Espargaro well up at the top of the results sheets with a solid fourth place, obtained thanks to a positive 2’05.564s lap scored on his very last lap. His young team-mate Maverick Viñales struggled a little more, but his best-lap of 2’07.011s sees him in 15th place overall.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“This has been a very strange day, with variable weather conditions that required extra effort as the riders had to adapt. This morning we made our debut in wet conditions, our machines and riders had never ridden properly in hard rain before so we had to start with a basic set-up from where we tried to improve, according to the data and feedback from the riders. Fortunately in the afternoon we could run in dry conditions and both riders did make major improvements since they have more experience with these conditions. Aleix did a good job running out on track as much as possible and getting well into the leading group, which is good in case the rain falls tomorrow as well. Maverick on his side of the garage kept on with his personal development plan in the class and made many laps with the same tyre, getting more and more confidence. For sure we still have to improve and it is impossible to say how the weekend will proceed, since it depends on the weather conditions.”

Aleix Espargaro:

“I’m happy for the final position; like in Qatar I finished the early sessions with a virtual position near the top which is good, but overall this has not been a fully satisfying day. This morning we had to start from zero with the rain since we have no experience in the wet. I feel the bike is performing well, but we still have a huge amount of work to do for the final set-up and on my own I still have a lot to learn about how the bike behaves and reacts. In dry conditions we have much more experience, but I have been having the same chatter problem on the rear that we had in the Qatar race. We need to further investigate this and fix it. We will see how the weather develops tomorrow. Today’s fourth place is a good starting point and we can now concentrate on finding the best feeling with the bike.”

Maverick Viñales:

“Today was pretty difficult. This morning I had my first experience with the bike in the rain and I feel that I still have a lot of work to do to improve my riding style and also give proper feedback to the engineers to improve the machine. In dry conditions I tried to exploit the session to my advantage, but I had few laps available and unfortunately the engine map on my GSX-RR was not the best one so I couldn’t be as fast as I wanted, but now we can fix it for tomorrow and try to improve more.”

GP of The Americas, qualifying after FP2:

1. Marc MARQUEZ – Repsol Honda Team – 2’04.835
2. Cal CRUTCHLOW – CWM LCR Honda – 2’05.162 +0.327
3. Andrea IANNONE – Ducati Team – 2’05.190 +0.355
4. Aleix ESPARGARO – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 2’05.564 +0.729
5. Andrea DOVIZIOSO – Ducati Team – 2’05.646 +0.811
6. Valentino ROSSI – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 2’05.691 +0.856
7. Pol ESPARGARO – Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 2’05.840 +1.005
8. Stefan BRADL – Athinà Forward Racing – 2’05.990 +1.155
9. Yonny HERNANDEZ – Pramac Racing – 2’06.092 +1.257
10. Bradley SMITH – Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 2’06.134 +1.299
11. Jorge LORENZO – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 2’06.174 +1.339
12. Scott REDDING – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – 2’06.216 +1.381
13. Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Pramac Racing – 2’06.294 +1.459
14. Mike DI MEGLIO – Avintia Racing – 2’06.591 +1.756
15. Maverick VIÑALES – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 2’07.011 +2.176