Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda’s Aron Canet commandingly led the field after Friday’s two 40-minute practice sessions, the Spaniard well over a second clear of his competitors.
Canet began the day in dominant fashion, topping the FP1 timesheets by 1.1s on a 2m16.820s, which was impressively set on the hard rear Dunlop tyre. The EG 0,0 Honda rider failed to relinquish his sizeable margin in the afternoon, improving to a 2m16.750s in the dying seconds of FP2.
World championship leader Joan Mir was best of the rest on Friday, but despite his best efforts could not break into the 2m16s bracket. The Leopard rider heads into tomorrow’s action with just over seven tenths of a second to find to get on terms with his compatriot.
Ongetta Rivacold’s Romano Fenati won this grand prix 12 months ago, but replicating that success already looks near-impossible. The Italian completed the top three with a 2m17.832s, going just 0.039s clear of double podium finisher in 2017 Jorge Martin in fourth.
RBA Racing’s Juanfran Guevara was top KTM in fifth spot, with team-mate Gabriel Rodrigo close behind in sixth despite being forced to park up early when the chain came off his motorcycle exiting Turn 1 halfway through the session.
Sky Racing VR46’s Andrea Migno headed Canet’s team-mate Enea Bastianini, who now looks to be coming into some form having endured a torrid start to life at the EG 0,0 Honda squad in 2017.
John McPhee was 1.3s off the pace down in ninth, though the Scottish rider has tended to shy away from time attacks in free practice this season to concentrate on race pace. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Niccolo Antonelli rounded out the top 10, with last year’s pole man Philipp Oettl a couple of hundredths adrift in 11th.
Circuit of the Americas is a notoriously tricky track to learn for a rookie rider, though Ayumu Sasaki has so far put in a respectable performance on his SIC Racing Honda. The Japanese youngster ended the day 12th fastest, with Nicolo Bulega, Jules Danilo and Darryn Binder completing the top 15.