Martin “has margin” to better COTA MotoGP record-smashing practice lap

Pramac Ducati rider Martin demolished Francesco Bagnaia’s pole record at the Circuit of the Americas of 2m01.892s from last year with a 2m01.397s in Friday’s second practice.

Though challenged late on by Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales, Martin held on to end Friday fastest of all as he looks to strengthen his 18-point lead in the standings in Saturday’s sprint.

The Spaniard felt he still had more time on the table owing to two errors he made on that record-beating lap, but admits it will be “really challenging” to maintain his advantage into Saturday.

“I did two small mistakes, so I think I have some margin for tomorrow – not a lot,” he said.

“And also if the track keeps improving, because I think it improved quite a lot from FP1 to FP2, so it will improve for tomorrow and we will be a bit faster.

“But I’m happy. In terms of pace, I feel confident.

“I think even if tomorrow a lot of riders will improve, it will be really challenging to be one of the strongest, I feel prepared and ready for everything.”

Reigning world champion Bagnaia lifted himself into the Q2 places with the fourth-best time on Friday, which he described as his best of the season.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bagnaia noted that the immense grip levels in Qatar masked the issues on braking he struggled with in Portugal, but has rediscovered that form on Friday in Austin.

“Feeling good, best Friday so far from a long time, also last year,” he said.

“This morning we started more or less with the same set-up as Portimao.

“I was quite competitive but not as much, then this afternoon we decided to go back to a set-up that was similar more or less to last year [at COTA] and I started to feel much better.

“The thing is that in Qatar we started a bit improving the setting, but the grip was very high so it was difficult to understand some things.

“In Portimao we started to struggle, also when I was releasing brakes the feeling was not the best. Here it started to become more or less the same [as in Qatar], so I’m very happy.

“We just went with a different strategy to the others with the medium and the pace was very good. So, I’m happy.”

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