The COTA circuit in Austin is Honda heaven and when combined with the imperious talent of Marquez – MotoGP’s youngest ever world champion – and quite simply Marquez looks untouchable.
Marquez is fast everywhere, but especially so at COTA having established his superiority with his historic win in the Texas GP a year ago.
Both Lorenzo and Rossi admit they can do little but focus on their own performance and not panic over the massive 1.3s gap Marquez opened after Friday’s opening practice.
“You have to accept this situation, if you get angry about this then it is easy to crash and get beaten so I have to accept it and make the best position I can do,” said Lorenzo, who is on zero points after crashing out for the opening race in Qatar.
“I was just four tenths slower than second place on Friday but very far from Marquez and at this track it will be difficult to beat him but until the end of the race you never know.”
Lorenzo switched the electronic setup of his Yamaha YZR-M1 back to its 2013 format to improve his times by almost two seconds during Friday’s sessions.
But still he was 1.4s adrift of Marquez and the Honda RC213V which just loves the fast straights and first gear acceleration out of hairpins that are features of COTA.
“There are a combination of reasons why Marc is so fast here. This track has three straights and on the longest one the Honda is faster by about 5-6 kph.
“Also there is a lot of hard braking the Honda brakes very late and there are also some turns in 1st gear and this also suits the Honda better.
“In Qatar you could see some Yamahas in the top five and now we are quite far behind.”
The opening race in Qatar was won by Marquez but only after a breathtaking last race duel with Rossi’s Yamaha. But the seven-time world champion will have to dig deep and find something extra to repeat that performance here based on early practice times.
“I think it will be very difficult to beat Marquez but it is too early to say, anything can happen and he was at another level on Friday.
“The target is to improve the setting and improve my style and try and stay with Lorenzo and Pedrosa. But with Marquez I don’t know.”
While Marquez is fast on both the soft and hard compound tires allocated by Bridgestone for this race – the softer one is 2013 spec race tire – Rossi is struggling to maximize performance from the 2014 harder compound tire.
“In the higher temperatures of the afternoon the bike is more difficult to ride and we are focussing on the hard tire,” said Rossi. “I will be very happy if I can race with this tyre but is very difficult with the Yamaha.
“I am not very satisfied about my position and my lap time because I have the potential to stay in second or third position. I can do two or three tenths faster but I try too much and make some mistakes and I am not able to use the potential of the tire.”
Rossi finished sixth in this race last year and is eager to be on the podium on Sunday to confirm that his pace and motivation are at a higher level.
Lorenzo was third in Austin last year behind Marquez and his Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa but come sin to this race with zero points after the disaster of his first lap crash in Qatar.
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