If you were going to pick a circuit that would be difficult for MotoGP rookie to learn, many would pick the undulating layout of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The California circuit’s many blind turns and elevation changes pose one of the greater challenges to riders on the MotoGP calendar. But apparently no one told Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, who swiftly learned the track—although he did get some help following Jorge Lorenzo in the morning before the Yamaha Factory Racing crew informed him on his pit board—to record the quickest practice time on a sunny afternoon in Monterey, California. With fog and misty conditions drastically slowing down the times in the morning practice (and the same weather predicted for tomorrow), it’s likely that this afternoon’s session will determine the groups for the QP1 and QP2 qualifying sessions.
Surprisingly, Marquez was followed by LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and Andrea Dovisioso on the factory Ducati. Valentino Rossi ended up fourth quickest after topping the timesheets several times during the session, ahead of Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow, who not only topped the leaderboard several times in the afternoon, but ended up quickest in the misty morning FP1 session. Jorge Lorenzo, who skipped the majority of the morning session and only rode a handful of laps to record the 11th quickest time, came out in the afternoon to go an impressive sixth quickest with a freshly repaired collarbone.
Aleix Espargaro confirmed pundit predictions that the twisty and tricky Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca course would suit the CRT bikes by actually topping the leaderboard in the afternoon midway through the session, finally ending up seventh quickest, ahead of GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista.
Nicky Hayden, who confirmed at the pre-race press conference that he was informed by Ducati that they won’t be re-signing him for 2014, finished ninth quickest, with Crutchlow’s Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teammate Bradley Smith completing the top ten. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, who was injured in qualifying at the Sachsenring and was forced to sit out that race, finished 11th quickest after choosing not to ride in the morning session. He was in obvious pain as he dismounted his bike at the conclusion of the afternoon session, but the Spaniard may have to run in QP1 to qualify for the QP2 session if the morning practice tomorrow is as it was today.
MotoGP Laguna Seca Friday practice results:
1. Marc Marquez (SPA) Honda 1:22.040
2. Stefan Bradl (GER) Honda 1:22.269
3. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Ducati 1:22.284
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha 1:22.346
5. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha 1:22.457
6. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha 1:22.467
7. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) ART/Aprilia 1:22.531
8. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Honda 1:22.539
9. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati 1:22.733
10. Bradley Smith (GBR) Yamaha 1:22.767
11. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 1:23.129
12. Hector Barbera (SPA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:23.158
13. Randy De Puniet (FRA) ART/Aprilia 1:23.437
14. Alex De Angelis (RSM) Ducati 1:23.973
15. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Ioda/BMW 1:23.973
16. Claudio Corti (ITA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:24.047
17. Colin Edwards (USA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:24.410
18. Karel Abraham (CZE) ART/Aprilia 1:24.421
19. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) FTR/Kawasaki 1:24.473
20. Yonny Hernandez (COL) ART/Aprilia 1:24.555
21. Michael Laverty (IRL) ART/Aprilia 1:24.727
22. Bryan Staring (AUS) FTR/Honda 1:25.535
23. Blake Young (USA) Attack/Kawasaki 1:25.764
24. Lukas Pesek (CZE) Ioda/BMW 1:27.173