Austin Grand Prix, Texas: Bridgestone Practice Review
In track conditions which proved to be a real challenge for the twenty-six riders competing this weekend, Marquez set a time of 2’05.031 to finish ahead of Pedrosa by 0.554 seconds, while LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl was a further six-tenths behind and third overall to ensure a Honda 1-2-3 at the top of the timesheets. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was the top CRT rider in today’s free practice sessions, his time of 2’08.299 slotting him in at P11.
Low track temperatures caused by cool winds and recent heavy rain combined to cause very low grip levels in the morning’s FP1 session, though for the afternoon FP2 session conditions were improved. Track temperatures in the around 40° C greeted riders for FP2 and so all riders were able to improve their lap times. The softer rear slick options were favoured by most riders, although Stefan Bradl set his best time of the day on the harder rear slick right at the end of FP2. Some riders also assessed the harder front slick option as this option provides greater cornering and braking stability, though at a slight expense to overall grip.
There will be one more ranked practice session, FP3 at 0955 local time tomorrow (GMT -6) that will determine which riders will take part in Qualifying Practice 1 or Qualifying Practice 2. The top two riders at the end of Qualifying Practice 1 will also get to participate in Qualifying Practice 2 which will decide the first four rows of the starting grid.
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Medium; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Weather: FP1 – Dry. Ambient 13-14°C; Track 18-20°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP2 – Dry. Ambient 20-20°C; Track 39-40°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“The conditions for this morning were very challenging due to the heavy rain we experienced and strong winds that kept track temperatures very low. The afternoon’s warmer temperatures helped improve the condition of the track so that all the riders were able to improve their lap times. Riders predominantly used the softer option slicks to deal with the low grip level of the circuit, though some riders did assess the harder front and rear options late in the FP2 session. I’m pleased with how our tyres performed today in what were harsh conditions and look forward to an exciting day tomorrow for qualifying.”
Source: Bridgestone Motorsport Press Release