Honda 1-2-3 on opening day in Argentina
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez started the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina on top form, finishing the day 0.404 seconds clear of closest rival Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) despite a wobble in pitlane and a few moments for the reigning Champion.
With plenty of late chopping and changing and all the riders battling it out to get into the top 10 for fear of the weather changing on Saturday, the Spaniard’s reign at the top of the timesheets rarely looked under threat.
Marc Marquez – P1
“It was a good day for us. When we started this morning, the track was quite slippery and we struggled a bit but it was the same for every rider, and the asphalt steadily became cleaner. In the afternoon, the second session was a bit strange as conditions were kind of mixed, but all in all we were able to do good work on the bike setup, getting a pretty clear idea about those conditions. It was important to start the Argentinian GP well, but now we’ll wait and see what conditions we have going forward, as there’s a good chance things will change a lot in the next two days. It’s possible that we’ll have a very different track on Sunday, which would require a different setup, so we must keep our focus and continue working hard to be ready for the race.”
Fellow Honda rider Crutchlow was his nearest challenger, however, finishing the day as top Independent Team rider at a track he’s had good results on in the past.
Cal Crutchlow – P2
“I’m really positive about the first day here, I think we worked in a very good way. We have to continue this good work again tomorrow because it was particularly tricky with the weather in the afternoon session, but overall I’m delighted with how the whole LCR Honda CASTROL Team are working. At the moment we have continued our good run of form from Qatar, and we need to keep focused and enjoy the day tomorrow, whatever the weather. We then will try to get a good position on the grid for Sunday’s race.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was third after topping FP1 in a last lap dash, with Honda in control at Termas de Rio Hondo so far.
Dani Pedrosa – P3
“The track is always quite slippery here on the first day, which makes the first practice a bit tougher. The parts that had been resurfaced seem better in terms of the bumps, but the asphalt was too dirty to really understand what the grip was like. This morning we worked on the tyres, trying to make the best of the dry conditions, as the weather forecasts for the weekend aren’t good. We started the day well, but in the afternoon’s mixed conditions we weren’t able to complete all the work we had planned. We’ll see how the weather is tomorrow, and we’ll keep working for Sunday.”
Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) was the first non-Honda rider to make it straight to provisional Q2 entry as he impressed, ending the day just 0.043 behind the number 26 and as top Ducati.
Tito Rabat – P4
“We had a great first day. We found a strong pace and also put in a fast lap time. In the first practice session, the track was a little dirty, but this afternoon, the conditions were almost perfect for me. Every day I feel better with the Ducati and with my team. Now we have to focus on qualifying tomorrow, because I want to improve further and get a good position on the grid for Sunday’s race. We mainly have to work on tyre life and we will also try to go a little faster.”
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone completed the top five with his laptime from FP1, with the Italian showing good pace in Argentina.
Andrea Iannone – P5
“It was a solid session this morning, but in any case we need to find some more performance because we want to improve a lot. I think in this track I will struggle less, and the feeling with the bike is not bad. But this afternoon with the wind it was very difficult, the wind makes the bike unstable because it catches the wheels, so FP2 was more difficult than FP1. But we got a lot of information today in various conditions and we have a really clear idea for our adjustments. I didn’t feel a lot of difference with the new asphalt, only that it was less bumpy. Anyway, the grip will improve tomorrow and I hope we will too.”
Last year’s winner Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) finished Friday in P6, 0.067 ahead of his teammate Valentino Rossi as the rider from Roses made big progress up the timesheets in the afternoon, while Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) propelled himself into eighth right at the end of the day.
Maverick Vinales – P6
“My feelings today have been mixed. I felt quite confident on the bike this morning, but honestly, I didn‘t feel the same way in the afternoon. I was happy that, in the end, I provisionally qualified for Q2 in FP2, because it was difficult. Tomorrow, if it rains, it would have been tricky to get inside the top-10. We have to work in order to close the gap to our opponents, so we have to stay focused.”
Valentino Rossi – P7
“The main target was to stay inside the top-10, because the weather is very difficult to predict – this is very important. I’m quite happy about my pace with the harder tyres, because I feel comfortable with the bike. I put the soft on in the end but, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to improve like I expected. With the softer tyre I didn’t feel very good. We have to manage this problem, especially tomorrow for the qualifying. We also have to wait for the weather, because it’s difficult to understand what will happen and I hope it will be dry.”
Alex Rins – P8
“In FP1 we had some problems, we tried many things but it didn’t work out. But in FP2 I was feeling much more comfortable with the bike and I was able to be faster, which means I’m currently in Q2. We need to see if it’s raining or not in FP3, but the important thing is the base settings, and now we need to work on race pace. In the morning I had some problems in the braking zones on the new asphalt as the track was dirty. I tried some different tyre compounds today, and I feel quite comfortable with the medium front and rear.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Johann Zarco held on amongst a late flurry of quick laptimes to end the day in P9, with Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) taking the final provisional Q2 spot in P10.
Johann Zarco – P9
“This Friday in Argentina was quite difficult and unfortunately, we were not able to improve during FP2, which is complicate. I had to fight a lot with the grip and with the bike and we couldn’t quickly find a good setup to make me feel comfortable. The most important thing was to be inside the top 10 in case of rain tomorrow morning, but if it’s dry, I really need to improve my pace and be more competitive. At the moment I don’t feel I can fight with the fastest guys, but we will work hard to make good progress on Saturday.”
Jack Miller – P10
“It wasn’t an easy day even though I managed to stay in the Top 10 and this could be important for tomorrow’s qualifying. With soft rubber I have not found benefits in the afternoon and we will have to understand why. I have struggled especially with in change directions. Tomorrow we will have to improve to be competitive in qualifying”.
Álvaro Bautista – P11
“This has been a better start to the weekend than Qatar. We decided not to make any big changes and made gradual improvements throughout the day. We also knew that the track would change a lot from the first session to the second as it picks up more rubber. This morning I had a 38 degree fever and didn’t have any strength, but thanks to the guys at the Clinica Mobile I was able to feel better. We are still lacking some feel from the rear but today the focus was improving the front end of my Ducati.”
Aleix Espargaro’ – P12
“We still need to find the right balance to be fast on this track. In the afternoon we improved the feeling quite a bit in terms of the electronics and power management. Now we need to work on the chassis architecture. As far as the gaps, we are not far off, but thinking about the 25 race laps, we clearly need to improve. I need more feeling especially in the transition between braking and acceleration, where I lose grip. Today was a complicated day for us and sure, the asphalt was not in perfect conditions, but we need to know how to adapt to the different conditions.”
Scott Redding – P13
“Today we tried the bike that hadn’t given me the right feeling in the Qatar race and that was confirmed again here. So, we know where to work, because with the other RS-GP I felt rather good with the same, good sensations I had in the tests. Unfortunately, I struggled with a backache today, especially this morning when I almost couldn’t get off the bike. Thanks to the treatments, in FP2 I felt a lot better. I was able to concentrate on riding and overall I am satisfied with the day.”
Danilo Petrucci – P14
“A very very strange day. The track was quite dirty and the conditions did not improve in the afternoon. But the main problem is that the bike can’t do the same things every lap. It seems that we can’t get the tyres to work well, we don’t have grip, and the bike moves a lot when cornering. The soft tyre was practically new after 10 laps”.
It was a difficult day for both factory Ducati Team riders, with Andrea Dovizioso 1.543 seconds back in 15th and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) just behind. With Rabat leading the way so far for the Borgo Panigale marque, both will want to move forward on Saturday – and will be hoping the weather stays clear to allow improved laptimes on the hunt for Q2.
Andrea Dovizioso – P15
“Our position in today’s FP2 session doesn’t respect the real situation, so I don’t think there is that much to worry about. In the afternoon we came across some rather strange track conditions and I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike, so I didn’t do many laps and finished the session quite far behind. However we’ve got some ideas about what happened, and we’re not in such a bad a position as might seem. Today, as I said, my feeling with the bike wasn’t the best and when the situation is like that it makes no sense to take risks in order to set mediocre times. Let’s hope we have at least one dry session tomorrow to be able to put together all the little details that can change our situation.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P16
“It was quite a strange day because the conditions changed a lot between the morning and the afternoon. In the first session we were able to try several different things but in the second session I was not entirely at ease on the bike, above all because of the wind and the track conditions. I tried everything, but in the curve before the main straight I was losing at least half a second, I wasn’t able to keep the front wheel down on the track and, with the wind, these problems were made bigger. Tomorrow we’ll have to find some set-up solutions that help us combat these negative aspects, to improve my lap time and try and get directly into Q2.”
Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) showed more impressive pace to end the day as the fastest rookie, less than a second off Lorenzo’s time on his first visit to the track in the premier class.
Hafizh Syahrin – P17
“I felt really good in FP2, but also during the first session this morning. It took quite some time to clean the track, but overall, I just have some great sensations. In the afternoon, the conditions were really tricky. I was pushing a bit too much while trying to get straight into Q2. Finally, this lead into some mistakes, but in the end, I understood what I did wrong. The bike overall feels better and better for me. We’ll take a look at the data in order to improve further for tomorrow and I hope, that I can make one step forward.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P20
“It’s quite a positive day for us, despite the fact that the overall position doesn’t look so good. I actually expected a little bit more because during the session I was close to the top ten. However, we didn’t use the new tyre at the end of the session today as we wanted to get the race distance feeling, and many people improved their lap-times then. I am quite happy with how the first day has gone. We need to work a lot still, but I think it was positive because we can keep pushing and keep improving on day two.”
Franco Morbidelli – P21
“The weather was not perfect today although we did get time to work on a set-up for dry conditions. For sure we need to improve, I am not fast enough right now and I’m struggling with rear drive grip on acceleration, which also hurts our top speed on the straight.”
Karel Abraham – P22
“This morning we had some big problems, it was very difficult for me. This afternoon felt a little bit better and we made some progress. Unfortunately we are not exactly where we wanted to be because I think P15, maybe even the top ten is achievable here. At the moment we are not there but we are going to work as hard as we can to get there. The new asphalt is super slippery, at the moment at least. Some corners more than others, but it is very slippery. There are no bumps but the grip is a lot lower, in my opinion.”
Tom Lüthi – P23
“I was surprised in FP1, the grip level was better than I imagined although I was little lost on my first day here with the Honda RC213V. Then in FP2 it was late in the session before the grip improved when the rain stopped and I had better rhythm as I continued to adapt my style for MotoGP. It is a learning process, I need to improve and my crew can also help with a set-up for the way I ride the bike.”
Xavier Simeon – P24
“This morning was very good for me and I was very happy with the feeling I had riding the bike, I tried to take the pressure off a bit, to ride with my instinct and to use all I’ve learned in Qatar, and to be honest, I enjoyed this a lot. This afternoon, the conditions were a bit more difficult, because the tarmac lost grip due to the rain. We waited for the track to dry up, but with less track time, it was harder to improve my pace. In the end, my lap time was the same as in the morning, but the feelings were worse because the track felt greasy after the rain. Overall I think that we made a step forward compared to Qatar and this is the most positive thing for me.”
The battle to get the final Q2 spots looks to be red hot. Can anyone stop the number 93 from taking pole? Find out tomorrow, with FP3 kicking off at 10:55 (GMT -3).
Pasini spearheads the timesheets at Termas de Rio Hondo
MotoGP 2018 – Argentina – Friday Combined Practice Times
- Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 1:39.395
2. Cal CRUTCHLOW LCR Honda CASTROL 1:39.799 0.404 / 0.404
3. Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team 1:40.303 0.908 / 0.504
4. Tito RABAT Reale Avintia Racing 1:40.346 0.951 / 0.043
5. Andrea IANNONE Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1:40.386 0.991 / 0.040
6. Maverick VIN~ALES Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1:40.510 1.115 / 0.124
7. Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1:40.577 1.182 / 0.067
8. Alex RINS Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1:40.592 1.197 / 0.015
9. Johann ZARCO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:40.614 1.219 / 0.022
10. Jack MILLER Alma Pramac Racing 1:40.715 1.320 / 0.101
11. Alvaro BAUTISTA Angel Nieto Team 1:40.766 1.371 / 0.051
12. Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1:40.800 1.405 / 0.034
13. Scott REDDING Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1:40.839 1.444 / 0.039
14. Danilo PETRUCCI Alma Pramac Racing 1:40.863 1.468 / 0.024
15. Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team 1:40.938 1.543 / 0.075
16. Jorge LORENZO Ducati Team 1:41.019 1.624 / 0.081
17. Hafiz SYAHRIN Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:41.094 1.699 / 0.075
18. Bradley SMITH Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1:41.198 1.803 / 0.104
19. Pol ESPARGARO Red Bull KTM FactoryRacing 1:41.355 1.960 / 0.157
20. Takagi NAKAGAMI LCR Honda IDEMITSU 1:41.357 1.962 / 0.002
21. Franco MORBIDELLI EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1:41.538 2.143 / 0.181
22. Karel ABRAHAM Angel Nieto Team 1:41.784 2.389 / 0.246
23. Tom LUTHI EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1:41.898 2.503 / 0.114
24. Xavier SIMEON Reale Avintia Racing 1:42.192 2.797 / 0.294
Mattia Pasini’s (Italtrans Racing Team) 1.44.461 in FP1 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina was enough to see him end Day 1 fastest at Termas de Rio Hondo, with Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) finishing second overall. Qatar race winner and Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46) was 0.275 off Pasini’s time in third, with Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder fourth overall. The top four all set their fastest laps in FP1, with the weather coming in towards the end of the second session and curtailing a final push for a quick laptime.
With track conditions constantly changing, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was one of only five riders to improve on their FP1 times in the afternoon. He finished FP2 quickest, with his time of 1.44.802 enough to place him fifth overall. SAG Team rider Isaac Viñales was 0.455 back in sixth, with Danny Kent (MB Conveyors – Speed Up Racing) seventh. Rounding out the top 10 was Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), Dynavolt Intact GP’s Xavi Vierge and Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) – with Vierge and Gardner in the top three at the end of FP2.
Remy Gardner – P10
“Today was pretty good. In FP1 we were struggling a little bit with the setup and were trying some different things. We made an improvement and stayed on the same tyres all session. In FP2 we put a new set on and it felt quite good straight away. We’re still looking for some further adjustments of the setup and then we went to put another tyre, but it started to rain. Overall, I’m happy and I think it was a good beginning to this weekend.”
After duelling for the win at Losail, Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) was 0.619 back in 13th and he’ll be hoping to climb the timing sheets as the battle for pole position heats up.
Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) topped the timesheets by a considerable 0.408 seconds on Day 1 of the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina, with teammate Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) giving the team a great start to the weekend to make it a Leopard 1-2.
Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) was third overall, the Italian impressing as he got back in the groove following a more difficult start to the season in Qatar. Livio Loi (Reale Avintia Academy) – another big improver – was a further 0.041 seconds further back in fourth, while Del Conca Gresini Moto3’s Jorge Martin rounded out the top five on a track where he grabbed a podium last season.
Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) was 0.023 back from World Championship leader Martin as the Japanese rider took sixth, with home hero Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) – who led for most of the session – a solid seventh.
Malaysian Adam Norrodin (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was eighth quickest on Day 1 as he kept his morning pace rolling in the afternoon, ahead of Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse). Honda Team Asia rider Nakarin Atiratphuvapat suffered a crash on the final lap, however he walked away unscathed and ended the day in the top 10.
After an incident in FP1 in which he collided with Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP), Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) took P14, with FP1 leader Bezzecchi further down the timesheets.