Marquez leads Zarco in third COTA practice

Image: David Goldman/LAT

Marquez leads Zarco in third COTA practice


Marquez leads Zarco in third COTA practice


Rain was expected on Saturday morning at the Red Bull Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, but it largely stayed away until the final few minutes of FP3 – giving riders an unexpected chance to push for Q2. That was the best news Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) could have hoped for after the Frenchman was the biggest name left outside the provisional top 10 on Friday, and the double Moto2 champion was able to make good on the opportunity and move from P13 to P5 overall.

No one could topple Andrea Iannone’s (Team Suzuki Ecstar) Friday lap, however – not even COTA king Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), although the Spaniard closed in further to make the gap between the two only 0.009s. The Movistar Yamaha duo of Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi remained in P3 and P4 with their fastest laps set on Friday, with Zarco completing the top five overall.

Championship leader Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was bumped down to sixth and remained just ahead of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), but Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was a mover as he, like Zarco, managed to go faster than on Friday. The Italian was P8, turning the tables to just head teammate Jorge Lorenzo.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was the man who seemed to have the most to lose should the weather stay dry but he put in another strong performance so soon after breaking his wrist, completing the top 10 on the combined timesheets. Not only that, the number 26 went two tenths faster than he managed on Friday, and fought back against his initial demotion from direct Q2 entry to move through.

It looks like the rain may now stick around until qualifying at COTA so make sure to watch the battle for pole from 2:10 p.m. local time.