Marc Marquez led the way after opening practice at the Circuit of the Americas with the World Champion dominating the session to top the times by 0.9s from Aleix Espargaro.
Speaking to the media after the session the Spaniard admitted that he is still feeling the effects of his leg fracture during the winter:
“After Qatar I went to Kuala Lumpur and when I came back I felt a big drop [in strength],” said Marquez. “The muscle was tired and stiff and the fibula was also painful. I went to the doctor for a check-up but he said it was normal so I’ve worked hard with the physio. I feel a little bit better than in Qatar so that is the most important thing.”
COTA is renowned as one of the most physical tracks on the MotoGP calendar with the opening section of the lap seeing riders forced to continuously change direction and put all of their strength into flipping the bike from left to right and back again. When asked by Crash.net just how much a challenge this was for him Marquez admitted that even fully fit last year he found it difficult:
“After only five laps I could feel that change of direction. Already, from a physical condition, last year it was one of the most difficult circuits to finish the race. When you start to push hard even in practice you can start to feel that you’re getting tired.”
The gap to Espargaro in second showed that while he is still feeling the effects of his injury is not affecting his ultimate speed on track. With the adrenaline flowing he was able to set a scorching pace and while it is certain that the field will close the gap Marquez still feels that there is improvements to be made from his Repsol Honda:
“I think that it will be difficult to maintain this gap and it should be closer. Anyway, it’s great to start with a good feeling in the bike. We’ve already found a good place on the setup so we’ll try and work to improve it but for sure the others will improve as well.”