Ayumu Sasaki and John McPhee, Top 15 on opening day in Austin

PETRONAS Sprinta Racing riders finish the first day of the Americas GP in Q2 spots: Ayumu Sasaki goes 9th and John McPhee 12th.

FP1 and FP2 sessions for the Americas GP were held on Friday in Austin, with added importance placed on practice because of the rain expected tomorrow. The Moto3 riders were keen to set times on Day 1 that would see them into Q2 should Saturday’s conditions not be conducive to upping the pace. PETRONAS Sprinta Racing’s Ayumu Sasaki and John McPhee McPhee finished 9th and 12th place respectively, on the combined timesheets.

McPhee and Sasaki began working on the setup for their Moto3 machine in FP1, as well as aiming for a fast lap time. They progressed steadily throughout the opening runout, eventually clocking their best times on their final lap. McPhee set a 2:19.731, finishing in 9th position, whilst Sasaki was 16th with a 2:20.267.

The pair continued to improve in FP2, with the help of their PETRONAS Sprinta Racing crews, as they prepared for a final stint that could prove key to their grid position for Sunday’s race. Both riders achieved provisional spots in Q2, with 9th for Sasaki (2:17.656) and 12th for McPhee (2:17.737).

Tomorrow, with the threat of rain considerable according to forecasts, the Moto3 riders will be back at the Circuit of The Americas for FP3 at 9:00am local time, followed by Q1 and Q2 from 12:35pm.

RESULTS

1. ROMANO FENATI / Honda 2’16.679

2. TATSUKI SUZUKI / Honda +0.275

3. NICCOLO ANTONELLI / Honda +0.442

4. LORENZO DALLA PORTA / Honda +0.612

5. TONY ARBOLINO / Honda +0.613

9. AYUMU SASAKI / PETRONAS Sprinta Racing +0.977

12. JOHN MACPHEE / PETRONAS Sprinta Racing +1.058

#71 Ayumu Sasaki

“I felt good today; This track suits my riding much better than Argentina. In FP1 I felt comfortable with the bike and with the track. I enjoyed myself a lot today. It’s a long and very technical circuit, but I like this type of track, especially the first part, because we don’t have those types of corners at other circuits. It was a bit more bumpy than last year and that is a little dangerous at times, so we have to be more careful and see what the best line is. In FP1 I tried to find the best line to avoid the bumps, which takes a little more time than usual.

In FP1 I was not able to push very hard, but I was able to improve with every lap, which is important. In FP2, we knew that the forecast for tomorrow was rain, so we tried to get into the Top 14. This was our plan, so we did it well. I think that if we improve we can get into the Top 5. Hopefully tomorrow it will be dry, but if not, we will try to fight in the rain and see where we end up for the race.”

#17 John McPhee

“Tomorrow the forecast is for rain, so everyone treated FP2 a bit like a qualifying session. It wasn’t perfect, but the time we set was enough to enter Q2 if it rains tomorrow. I’m not very happy with my lap time, because I knew I could lower it more if I hadn’t have been in a large group of riders. I had to pass four riders on my fast lap. In general, it has been a positive day, even if I’m not happy about the lap time and tomorrow I will push hard to find some more speed. We will continue working to try to be closer to the frontrunners, but for the moment I feel good on the bike.”