MotoGP Qualifying Press Release
The Crusher
"But-a you know-a she-a not-a my girlfriend-ah..."

Qualifying for the 2024 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas was a true classic, with a dash of drama and a dash of magic creating an incredible grid for lights out in Austin. On pole position is Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), who smashed the lap record set on Friday by half a second to carve out his own postcode at the front, three tenths clear in Q2. His pole lap is also a second quicker than pole in 2023. In second is rookie sensation Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3), who takes his first premier class front row as his pace in Austin continues to awe. And completing that front row is eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) after his first qualifying top three with Ducati, aiming for an eighth win at COTA.

Just behind the #93 on the timesheets is reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), but sat directly behind him, with the #93 blocking his view up to Turn 1, is Championship leader Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) in P6. There were two crashes for the #89 in Q2.

The first qualifying session was packed full of contenders looking for a way through, not least of all Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder – second in the Championship heading into COTA. The South African’s session didn’t get off to the best start as he slid off in a low drama crash though, leaving him in a race against time to get back out and move up the grid.

Once everyone was back out for that final push, it was close as ever. Red sectors lit up the timing screens and none more so than for Binder’s teammate Jack Miller, with the Australian wrestling his RC16 round to take over on top – tucked in behind the South African on track too. For Binder it wasn’t to be though, and he’ll start P17 for both showdowns at COTA.

Miller’s final challenge came from Alex Marquez as the Gresini Racing MotoGP™ rider took the second place in Q2, just 0.012 off the Australian but that enough to move through into the fight for pole.

12 riders, one pole position, and plenty of simmering rivalries. Q2 delivered an immediate small dash of drama for Championship leader Martin as he slid out from just ahead of Marc Marquez, but the number 89 was able to pick it back up and carry on. Marquez then went on to put in a fast one too, but it wasn’t the fastest. That first honour went to Viñales, with the Aprilia slamming in a 2:01.243 to better MM93’s first effort by just 0.023. There would be no foregone conclusion.

Once Martin had picked it up and hit the gas again though, he was motoring in the first sector. But then there was more drama for the points leader, with the Pramac sliding off again at Turn 18. Rider ok once again, but this time it was a race against time to head back to the paddock to try and reset on his second machine.

Back out on track, the session belonged to Top Gun. After duelling Martin for Friday honours and just coming up short, Viñales had a big reply on Saturday. The #12 Aprilia shot round COTA for a new all-time record, shaving nearly half a second off Martin’s record set earlier in the weekend. Gauntlet thrown, statement made, and pole position surely secured.

In the end, it was. Martin couldn’t make another splash to take on the front row, Bagnaia came up short, and Acosta’s own best effort is a stunning statement in itself for a rookie, but it’s still 0.328 off Viñales – the lone star under the 2:00 barrier at COTA. Marquez had one final shot at it, seconds to spare over the line and with yellow flags gone, but after already having hammered it earlier on the same run, there was no more magic left in the tank. In this session, at least. During the rest of the weekend? Stay tuned.

Behind that Viñales – Acosta – Marquez front row teasing enough action in itself, there’s even more waiting in the wings. Bagnaia is one behind Marc Marquez on the timesheets but on track, he’s on the opposite side of the grid, lined up behind pole. He has teammate Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) alongside him, and then completing that second row – right behind Marc Marquez on the road – sits Martin.

Row 3 is Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) despite a crash near the end of Q2, with Fabio Di Giannantonio (Pertamina Mandalika VR46 Racing Team) and Franco Morbidelli (Prima Pramac Racing) alongside. Then comes Marco Bezzecchi (Pertamina Mandalika VR46 Racing Team) after a spill at T1, ahead of Miller and Alex Marquez in P11 and P12.

Then it’s Trackhouse Racing’s Raul Fernandez and Miguel Oliveira, who just missed the cut in Q1, lining up P13 and P14 for the team’s first ever home GP. Two-time MotoGP™ COTA winner Alex Rins (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) slots into P15, just ahead of teammate Fabio Quartararo, whose Q1 was also cut short by a low drama crash at Turn 1 on his final lap. Then comes Binder, searching for some serious progress once the lights go out as he looks to thread the needle from P17. And stop Martin's lead growing -– unless someone else does that for him.

The lights go out for the first time on Saturday at 15:00 (UTC-5), before Sunday’s Grand Prix race gets underway at 14:00. It's almost a guarantee there'll be some history made this weekend, so do not miss a minute – we'll save you a seat.
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