Round Two – Argentina
Friday Combined Practice Times/Report
Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) leads an incredibly tight MotoGP field at the end of play on Friday at the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina, topping a manic shuffle to the timesheets at the end of FP2 as riders pushed to make it into that all-important provisional Q2 graduation zone.
Andrea Dovizioso – P1
“I’m very happy, especially because we struggled quite a bit here in recent years and today, on the other hand, we found a good feeling with the bike right away. We are all extremely close so the lap time itself isn’t too important, but I feel much better riding compared with last year here. I still don’t know whether it’ll be enough to fight for the podium, because there are many riders with a strong pace and this track is peculiar, especially in terms of grip, which is particularly low. Anyhow, we have an excellent base, we made some steps forward with the setup and I think we still have room for improvement.”
And Dovizioso may have ended the day on top once the action was over, but the gap back to P2 was tiny as the Italian was just 0.009 ahead of Independent Team rider Jack Miller (Pramac Racing). It only seemed the get closer from there.
Jack Miller – P2
“I am very satisfied with this first day. The feeling with the bike is very positive and in both sessions we were able to ride with great incisiveness both with the used tyres and with the new tyres. It’s a shame about that small slide that didn’t compromise our work anyway”.
The rain mildly threatening overhead ultimately never came to fruition but the seven minute push for a laptime on fresh rubber made for a spectacular end to the day.
Third went to Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) as he headed an incredibly close trio, with LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow just 0.001 off the Spaniard and superstar rookie Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) once again showing some stunning pace to complete the top five. The gap between 2018 Argentina GP winner Crutchlow and the newcomer? Just 0.011.
Maverick Viñales – P3
“Today’s impressions weren’t bad. This track is completely different from Qatar, so the surface is very different and the tyres are working in a different way, so we had to record all the information from today and work really hard, because the bike isn’t at its best yet. The main thing is the rear grip. In Qatar we had a lot of grip, but here we’re struggling. We need to reconfirm everything, trying to work things out, especially the rear grip. Let’s see, we did a great job today, we improved so much compared to this morning, but our rhythm needs to be in the mid-1’39s if we want to be able to win the race. For sure, I will try my best for pole tomorrow. We’re going to work really hard and push for it.”
Cal Crutchlow – P4
“Today was a good day here in Argentina. The setting of the bike at the moment is not perfect yet but tomorrow we’ll try some more things with the bike in order to obtain the complete package that we raced in Qatar. We’re struggling with corner entry at the moment in some parts of the circuit, but overall I felt good with the lap times. So to be fast and in a good position on day one is positive. I look forward to tomorrow, the Team and HRC are doing a good job and we’re giving them some information with things we’re trying with the bike. I look forward to qualifying and hopefully we can get another good result.”
Fabio Quartararo – P5
“The first impressions of riding with a MotoGP bike here in Argentina have been good. I was expecting the track to be dirtier and harder for me to adapt to. I thought it would be more difficult, as we hadn’t tested here before -in contrast to Qatar. I felt very good and very comfortable, right from the start. On the last few laps I think everyone tried for a quick time, and we managed to be competitive and stay amongst the frontrunners. The conditions were almost perfect, so I’m happy with the work we’ve done today. Now it’s time to focus on tomorrow and work on our race pace. Qualifying is sure to be tough and we will have to ride on the limit if we are going to achieve the best grid position possible.”
Just under a tenth was the next gap and that was back to veteran Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), the 2015 winner at the venue, before another infinitesimal 0.010 split him from Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar).
Valentino Rossi – P6
“It was a pretty good day because I’ve always been pretty fast. This morning we worked well with the tyres, even with used tyres. In the afternoon we tried other things and at the end I did the time attack. I’m sixth at 0.2s from the first rider, and it isn’t a bad first day. Obviously, there are still so many things to do before the race. We are working well with the team, and I’m happy because I can ride the bike well. There are so many really fast riders, it will be important to stay very focused to be in the top-10.”
Alex Rins – P7
“This first day has been good, I found a nice rhythm and tried several different tyre options such as the hard front and a mixture on the rear, we’re already thinking about what to use for the race. Everyone is very close on the times – 21 riders covered by less than a second was crazy! I hope for good qualifying tomorrow.”
FP1 leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), who also set the pace throughout much of the second Free Practice session too, was deposed down to P8 by the last minute dash.
Marc Marquez – P8
“I’m very happy overall. This morning we were fast and then also this afternoon we managed the session in a good way. I did what we needed to try and we are focusing on finding the best pace for race distance. We worked in the same style as 2018, concentrating on our work and our pace and what we needed to do. Of course, we want to improve more as the track keeps changing. It’s still very early to say what will happen on Sunday.”
Sophomores Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) rounded out a top ten split by less than half a second.
Franco Morbidelli – P9
“It’s my first day with the Yamaha YZR-M1 on this track and I felt very good. I felt comfortable riding and I’m having fun. The timesheets are very tight and there are many riders within a second of one another, so getting into the Top 10 is a very positive thing. We still have to continue working on different aspects, because we have room for improvement, but we are in a good spot ahead of the second day. We need to finish adjusting some things with the rear and find a little more speed. The conditions here change day by day and the weather is usually unstable, so having achieved the time that we did today could be very valuable. We have to be prepared to react to any situation, in both the remaining Free Practice sessions and in Qualifying.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P10
“For us, it was a good start to get into the top 10, we’re on the right track. But we still have to find the best set up for the bike and especially the rear grip as we’re struggling with that a bit. So tomorrow we need to focus on finding a step forward for the set up. The problem for us is that, although we’re in the top 10, there is not much of a gap. From P1 to the last rider there is not much more than a second, so it’s difficult to get a lap time. I think tomorrow it will be hard to get into the top 10, but we’ll do our best and will keep working hard.”
So who’s at risk of missing out on Q2 should the rain come down on Saturday morning?
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Andrea Iannone and Aleix Espargaro only just missed out in P11 and P12 respectively, ahead of a somewhat out of position Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati), who crashed in the morning.
Andrea Iannone – P11
“I’m pleased because we are continuing on the path we had set out for ourselves. We started well today and ended the day a half a second from the winner of the last race. This is an improvement that I don’t think anyone expected from Aprilia in such a short amount of time. The team is working well. We are a good group with very clear ideas. We saw once again today just how competitive MotoGP is, with 20 riders all within one second of one another. A nice battle for all the fans. Our goal now is to go through to Q2. That would be further demonstration of our consistent growth.”
Aleix Espargaro – P12
“Not a bad day at all. With the medium tyre, we lapped in the mid 40s and with the soft in the mid-high 39s. It would only have taken 3 or 4 tenths to end the day even in the top five, but what we need to do is stay focused on the race. We all saw that rear tyre wear is very high here and we’ll need to work to prevent wheel spin as much as possible, because I’m sure that the real race will begin after at least ten laps. If we are well sorted in the second half of the race, we’ll be able to battle for important positions.”
Danilo Petrucci – P13
“All in all, we’re not far from the front, but it’s been a bit more difficult than what we expected today. We started off based on the data from last year, but the track was really dirty in FP1 and the crash made me lose a bit of confidence and time. Still, we made a good step forward in FP2, even though a small mistake in the first flying-lap prevented me from making the most of the extra grip offered by the new tyre. Andrea has shown we can be really competitive here, we have room for improvement and some ideas to try, so I’m confident we’ll bounce back tomorrow.”
Rookie duo Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) lurk close by, too.
Pecco Bagnaia – P14
“I’m happy because in FP2 we’ve improved a lot. It’s not easy to find the feeling right away on a track where we didn’t test. We are very close to the Top 10 and there is great confidence. I also thank the Clinica Mobile: I had a pain in my right arm and after the FP1 they did a great job”.
Joan Mir – P15
“It has been a difficult day with a lot of work to do in terms of settings, and I’m still getting used to the MotoGP bike here. Tomorrow we’ll check the different tyre options and prepare more for the race. I’m not that far from the top but I still need to improve.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team), meanwhile, had a tough first day as he comes back from injuries sustained to his ribs in Qatar and the scaphoid broken in pre-season. He was P21 on Day 1 and the final man covered by less than a second on an extremely competitive Friday – nevertheless quite a feat in terms of pace as he fights back to fitness and adapts to his new machine.
Jorge Lorenzo – P21
“We knew that coming to Termas would be difficult as it is a track I have not gone well at in the past because it is a very slippery circuit and still I am trying to catch up for the kilometres on the bike I lost. The position is not great, but we are still within one second of the top and improved a lot between the two practices. We will keep going and I will not lose concentration or focus, it is just a matter of time until we are there.”
They’ll be praying for the weather to hold out when the premier class head out on track at 0050 (AEDT) on Sunday morning for FP3, with Q1 then getting underway at 0505.
Argentina Grand Prix Combined Free Practice Classification
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea ITA Mission Winnow Ducati 1’39.181
- MILLER Jack AUS Pramac Racing 0.009
- VINALES Maverick SPA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 0.164
- CRUTCHLOW Cal GBR LCR Honda 0.165
- QUARTARARO Fabio FRA Petronas Yamaha SRT 0.176
- ROSSI Valentino ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 0.260
- RINS Alex SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 0.270
- MARQUEZ Marc SPA Repsol Honda Team 0.316
- MORBIDELLI Franco ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT 0.322
- NAKAGAMI Takaaki JPN LCR Honda 0.448
- IANNONE Andrea ITA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 0.473
- ESPARGARO Aleix SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 0.516
- PETRUCCI Danilo ITA Mission Winnow Ducati 0.559
- BAGNAIA Francesco ITA Pramac Racing 0.618
- MIR Joan SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 0.765
- ESPARGARO Pol SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 0.770
- ZARCO Johann FRA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 0.775
- ABRAHAM Karel CZE Reale Avintia Racing 0.814
- OLIVEIRA Miguel POR Red Bull KTM Tech 3 0.825
- RABAT Tito SPA Reale Avintia Racing 0.929
- LORENZO Jorge SPA Repsol Honda Team 0.978
- SYAHRIN Hafizh MAL Red Bull KTM Tech 3 1.571
MotoGP weekend schedule
Times in AEDT
|23:00 – 23:40||Moto3||FP3|
|23:55 – 00:35||Moto2||FP3|
|00:50 – 01:35||MotoGP||FP3|
|02:35 – 02:50||Moto3||Q1|
|03:00 – 03:15||Moto3||Q2|
|03:30 – 03:45||Moto2||Q1|
|03:55 – 04:10||Moto2||Q2|
|04:25 – 04:55||MotoGP||FP4|
|05:05 – 05:20||MotoGP||Q1|
|05:30 – 05:45||MotoGP||Q2|
|23:40 – 00:00||Moto3||WUP|
|00:10 – 00:30||Moto2||WUP|
|00:40 – 01:00||MotoGP||WUP|