MotoGP: Marquez up to speed at upgraded Indy
Marc Marquez set the pace on opening day of practice for Sunday's Indianapolis Grand Prix and led the praise for the upgraded and much faster Brickyard road course.
On target for his 10th win of a, so far, unbeaten season, Marquez (Repsol Honda) posted a best lap of 1:32.882, more than six seconds faster than the previous lap record.
Marquez finished 0.2s ahead of Italian youngster Andrea Iannone (Ducati) with Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo third fastest. Seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi was ninth.
In terms of lap and race records, the revamped and slightly shorter Indy course is now rated as a new circuit.
The layout has been completely resurfaced and a number of the tighter turns, including turns 3, 4, 7 and the final chicane complex onto the front straight, have been opened up.
The result is more flowing and much faster lap, although Marquez put aside his initial concerns that it may suit his factory Honda RC213V to again dominate.
“The new surface is quite similar to last year but it's less bumpy and the grip will of course improve throughout the weekend,” Marquez said.
“Maybe for our bike the old layout worked better and the new corners make the lap a little easier. There is certainly more corner speed, more banking in the exit of the corner and we stay on the throttle longer.
“It's not like before when we could stop the bike and pick it up and go.”
Rossi, once a critic of the Indy circuit, was also complimentary on the work done.
“I am very happy about the new track layout because it is definitely improved compared to the old one; it is faster and it makes easier riding the bike,” Rossi said.
“The biggest step forward is the new surface, because this works very well. There's a lot more grip than last year and less bumps.
"I think the people here at Indy have done a great job."
Rossi's Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo was also impressed and hopeful that, with the elimination of first gear corners, the Indy infield course will be a happier place for the M1 against the Hondas.
“There are definitely less bumps and the new layout makes the track more fun. Now it's also more suitable to our bike, as there's no first gear corners," Lorenzo said.
Ducati factory rider Andrea Dovizioso was fourth fastest but is yet to try the upgraded engine specification available for this race.
"The plan is to put the new motor in the bike overnight and start using it from Saturday," Dovizioso said.
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