Austin Grand Prix, Texas: Bridgestone Qualifying Review
Marc Marquez set a scorching time of 2’03.021 to claim pole position for the inaugural Americas MotoGP race as the Repsol Honda rider continued to dominate proceedings at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.
Marquez qualified 0.254 seconds ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa, the pair ensuring a Repsol Honda lockout of the top two grid positions. Rounding out the front row is Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo who set a personal best time of 2’04.100. In what was an impressive qualifying performance for a CRT machine, Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro took full advantage of the new CRT-specific soft compound rear tyre to set a time of 2’05.389 to secure P9 on the grid.
Track conditions for qualifying improved compared to yesterday with less wind and a peak track temperature of 46°C in Qualifying Practice. The better grip levels enabled riders to make a large reduction in lap times from yesterday and evaluate different tyre options for the race. Many riders used the warmer temperatures today to assess the harder front slick and both front slick options are likely to be used tomorrow. Rear slick choice today favoured the softer option as it offers better overall grip in the sweeping sections of the circuit and it is expected that the softer rear slick will be the popular race choice.
Tomorrow morning’s Warm Up session at 0940 local time (GMT -6) will provide a final opportunity for riders to decide on tyre choice before the twenty-one lap race starts at 1400.
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Medium; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 24-24°C; Track 45-46°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“After two days of activity the track condition has continually improved and in qualifying we began to see the true pace of the circuit. The warmer temperatures in the afternoon allowed teams to try some different tyre combinations and get an idea of what options they have for the race. I expect that front tyre choice will be split between the harder and softer slick options while for the rear, the softer slick options seem to be preferred at this stage. This is the first race where we have provided the CRT riders with their own, softer rear slick and the feedback we have had on this option is very positive. Aleix’s qualifying time today is a good example of how this option can be used to close the performance gap to the works riders.”
Source: Bridgestone Motorsport Press Release