MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez was in dominant form on Friday at the Gran Premio Red Bull de la Republica Argentina, leading FP2 by 1.083s from teammate Dani Pedrosa, with Aleix Espargaro in third.
As the riders learned their way around the new Termas de Rio Hondo track Marquez demonstrated his ability to go quickly at unfamiliar venues once again, recording a 1’39.313 best lap to put him clear of nearest rival Pedrosa.
Espargaro once again showed his pace and the potential of his ‘Open’ NGM Forward Racing package, placing himself third on the timesheet with a 1’40.566 best effort on the Forward Yamaha.
In fourth place was LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, the German rider who was one of a select group to test at this venue last year. He ended the day 1.578s behind Marquez.
Completing the top five was Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) who ended the session riding his second bike after the engine on his first machine blew up early in the practice. The Italian lapped within 1.729s of P1.
Monster Yamaha Tech3 pair Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro were sixth and seventh respectively, with Smith making a late improvement to jump from the foot of the timesheet as he improved his time by three seconds with a fast lap.
Valentino Rossi and his Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammate Jorge Lorenzo were eighth and ninth after Lorenzo had gone fastest in the morning FP1 session. They will both look to step up the pace on Saturday morning.
Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) walked away from a heavy crash at turn five and returned to the track on his second bike to improve his time and complete the top ten.
Gran Premio de la Republica Argentina – Round 3 – Practice
Moto2™: Zarco the top man in later Friday practice
As the intermediate class FP2 session concluded at the Gran Premio Red Bull de la Republica Argentina it was Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham) on the pace, with Jonas Folger (AGR Team) and Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert) also in the top three.
Zarco led the way by just 0.027s from Folger, with Aegerter 0.077s from the top at the end of a typically tight FP2, with times improving in the final seconds at the renovated 4.8km Termas de Rio Hondo track.
Folger was the pace setter in FP1 and appears to be enjoying the transition to Moto2 machinery this season. Aegerter had a small low-side crash at Turn 13, but was able to rejoin the session.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Maverick Viñales (Pons HP 40) were both within 0.265s of Zarco, completing the top five.
Esteve Rabat (Marc VDS Racing), Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing), Ricky Cardus (Tech 3), Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing) and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) rounded out the top ten at the end of the opening day.
Moto3™: Miller quickest in afternoon run
The Moto3™ FP2 session at the Gran Premio Red Bull de la Republica Argentina saw championship leader Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) set the pace, ahead of Efren Vazquez (SAXOPRINT RTG) and Isaac Viñales (Calvo Team)
Miller registered a 1’50.367s lap late in the practice run, improving significantly on his 1’51.929 pace setting best from FP1.
Behind Miller were three Spaniards, with Vazquez (+0.263), Viñales (+0.797) and Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) trailing the Australian. Marquez was 0.867s behind Miller and had briefly held provisional P1, as did rookie Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) before the young Czech eventually finished fifth with a time 0.9s off the top.
Danny Kent (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo), Enea Bastianini (Junior Team Go&FUN Moto3), Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra Racing), Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing) were all in the top ten.
Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold) and John McPhee (SAXOPRINT RTG) were both just outside the top ten and both escaped unhurt from light crashes.
The inaugural Grand Prix of Argentina got underway today as the MotoGP paddock took its first official practice sessions on the Termas de Río Hondo Circuit.
Yet again tyre wear proved to be the biggest challenge of the day as both Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders experienced issues with the rear tyre on the new circuit.
Jorge Lorenzo was the fastest man in the first ever session in the morning, leading FP1 by nearly half a second with a fastest time of 1’42.804. Teammate Valentino Rossi was slower to find his pace on the track, ending the morning session in tenth with a 1’44.502.
The afternoon saw big improvements from both, nine-time champion Rossi making the biggest step to finish in eighth with a fastest time of 1’41.395. Double MotoGP champion Lorenzo was just behind him in ninth with a 1’41.533.
The team will now work to improve the set up for both to overcome the rear tyre wear issues that proved to be the major issue of the day.
Bradley Smith enjoyed a fantastic start today finishing as the leading Yamaha in 6th as he continued to demonstrate his determination for this season, and how much of a quick learner his is. The British rider easily accustomed himself to the challenging circuit and established a solid working base setup. The 23 year-old also explored both varieties of tyre compounds, at the new fast flowing track which features a straight of over 1 kilometre. He notched up a top time of 1:41.303 at the final stages of this afternoons session, which puts him in a good position to show another strong qualifying performance tomorrow while preparing for Sunday’s race which lasts 25 laps.
Rookie Pol Espargaro completed today with impressive speed, as he rode to 7th position in the combined times. With the fast, wavering corners of the circuit favouring the agile Yamaha YZR-M1, the Spanish rider notably spent the majority of both of todays free practice sessions within the top five, and proceeded to gather as much information as possible at the 4,806 metre track for qualifying tomorrow. The reigning Moto2 World Champion improved his FP1 time by two and a half seconds to finish with a best lap of 1:41.368, ahead of multiple World Champions Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
As the Argentina Grand Prix weekend got underway, Alex Espargaro demonstrated his ability to go quickly at unfamiliar venues, recording the third fastest time with a lap time of 1’40.566.
Despite an engine problem during FP1 that spoiled his session, the Spaniard of the NGM Forward Racing Team could work well in the afternoon, learning quickly the lines of the new circuit and finishing as first Open and third overall behind the two factory Honda of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Team mate Colin Edwards also worked hard to learn his way around the new Termas de Rio Hondo track. The Texas Tornado finished in 14th position with a lap time of 1’42.608. Colin struggled a bit this morning for a tyre issue, but he was able to improve in the afternoon.
Valentino Rossi – 8th, 1’41.395 – “A difficult day here in Argentina at the new track. The conditions are not fantastic and we are struggling very much with the tyres, especially the rear. In the afternoon it became a bit better and we worked well with the bike but we still haven’t found the right balance so we have to work to make it better. We have to concentrate on making the tyre work harder as after a few laps the rear slides a lot. We hope the conditions of the track improve but we will also work to improve the setting of the bike for tomorrow.”
Jorge Lorenzo – 9th, 1’41.533 – “We are having problems with the tyres because there is a lot of graining and the tyres only have a good performance for six or seven laps. In the morning I was the last one to put a tyre in so I had a better grip at the end of the practice, that’s why I was first. In the afternoon I was the opposite: I stayed with the old tyre at the end of the session when everyone had a new one; that’s why our position was not so good. I think our real position is in the top five today. If we can make the tyres last we will have an advantage.”
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director – “We started well this morning and both Jorge and Vale were clearly comfortable learning their way around a new circuit. As the pace began to drop in the afternoon we were able to identify where we need to improve, so we now have some work to do with the data gathered to start to close the gap to the front. In particular the tyres are potentially an issue so we will work to adapt our set up to deal with this. I’m confident we can make some steps tomorrow to improve our pace.”
Bradley Smith – 6th, 1’41.303 – “In general, I am happy with the first day of practice here in Argentina, especially as I finished as the leading Yamaha. The circuit is as nice as it seemed to be and it was not different from my expectations, with my favourite part being the last corner. It feels like riding Supermotard back at Colin’s Ranch, it’s just amazing! The main point of today was to learn the circuit, and to establish a base setup which we achieved, and I feel confident with. I am still not sure on the choice of tyre, but tomorrow I will ride on both varieties in order to decide which one to use when the track surface will be cleaner. We will continue to look at modifying the setup in tomorrows session, as we need to improve the race pace a bit more. However, I’m confident that we are in a good position to qualify well and fight for a strong result on race day”.
Pol Espargaro – 7th, 1’41.368 – “Today was positive for me, and my impressions of the new circuit here in Argentina were good – it’s different to the other tracks we visit, which makes it more entertaining to ride.The layout is really nice, it is technical with long, fast and blind corners. My favourite part is probably T4 where you have to change direction quickly, and also the last corner. Actually, my pace in this sector was also strong, but I have to improve the first one where I was losing time and we will work to develop this area tonight. Another aspect where we still have some margin to refine is the front setup of the bike, but the feelings are positive especially because I have been competitive straight away this morning
Aleix Espargaro – 3rd, 1’40.556 – “I’m happy to be back on track after Austin, where we had several issues with the rear tyre. I’m satisfied with today’s result, I was able to ride as I wanted and show the potential of the bike. During the FP1 I had an engine problem, but the team did a great job and I could ride again with the first bike in the FP2. It’s only the first day and it was important to learn the new track. We will keep on working, aiming at repeating the strong performance we had in Qatar.”
Colin Edwards – 14th, 1’42.608 – “All in all it was a good day, even if I struggled a bit with the tyres this morning. In the FP2 we changed some electronic setting and the feeling improved. I’m sure that we can make another step forward tomorrow. I’m learning the new track and I look forward to get a good result.”
The first two free practice sessions were held today at the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina, a new circuit for almost all the MotoGP riders. After the two 45 minute sessions, Andrea Dovizioso set fifth quickest time, while his team-mate Michele Pirro, standing in for the injured Cal Crutchlow in this race, for the moment has been unable to go any higher than eighteenth place.
Dovizioso was particularly impressive in the afternoon session, immediately setting a good time on his third lap with a hard tyre, but his Desmosedici GP14 then had an engine problem on the following lap and he was forced to come back to the pits to finish the session on his second machine. Now on a soft tyre, Andrea put in an excellent time of 1m41.042s on the fifth lap, but was unable to complete more than 11 laps in total throughout the session and he finished in fifth place. Dovi however said he was optimistic regarding the rest of the weekend
Michele Pirro, who stepped onto Crutchlow’s bike this morning, has not yet been able to establish a good feeling with his GP14, and he finished the day in eighteenth place. The Italian rider is convinced that he will be able to improve his position tomorrow
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 5th (1m41.042s) – “It was a bit of a lively session for me. We didn’t have the opportunity to do many laps because of my Desmosedici’s engine problem, and on a new track you always need to do so. Despite this I managed to be fast here, and I think I’ve been able to interpret this track pretty well. For sure the times will drop tomorrow, but we all have a big problem with tyre wear and at the moment it’s difficult to do 25 laps at the right pace. I hope the track conditions improve tomorrow. I set my time on a soft tyre, because when I was using the hard tyre I had a problem with the engine and had to change bikes.”
Michele Pirro (Ducati Team #51) – 18th (1m42.898s) – “It was a bit of a difficult session, but we managed to get some good indications for tomorrow. Today I didn’t use the soft tyre because I needed to improve my feeling with the bike. I am confident because the GP14 is going well: I’m just missing a bit of rhythm but tomorrow I’m sure I can move up the timesheets. Cal’s bike has a slightly different set-up to the one I normally use in the tests: the track however is new for everyone and it’s me who has to adapt to the bike. Tomorrow in any case I count on being closer to the other Ducatis.”
Repsol HRC Report
After a busy morning on a dirty track, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa have made significant progress in this afternoon’s FP2 session, finishing first and second.
During this morning’s FP1 they chose to remain on the same soft rear tyre for the entire session whilst they adapted to the new track, whereas every other MotoGP rider put a fresh tyre on at the end of the session, thus demoting Marc and Dani to 14th and 16th respectively.
However, this afternoon on a cleaner track, both riders made substantial gains with Marc, who was over a second faster than anyone else, improving his time by 5.790s (FP1: 1’45.103) to 1’39.313 on lap 16 of 18, and Dani shaving 5.328s off his time with 1’40.396 on lap 18 of 18 (FP1: 1’45.724). What made this even more notable was the fact they recorded these impressive times on the hard rear Bridgestone tyre (and medium front).
Marc Marquez – 1st – 1’39.313 – “It was a fun day, it is always interesting to learn all the different corners and their secrets at a new track and the practice sessions go by more quickly. Maybe the day was affected by the first session, in which we sacrificed putting in a fast lap in order to keep the same tyre on during the entire session. That was to enable us to keep more tyres for the remainder of the weekend. This afternoon we were able to have a more normal practice session and the track had improved a lot. The tyre durability also seemed much greater than before, and I think that it will continue improving as the weekend goes on. I am happy with how this first day went and with the base that we have. We shall continue working in the same way, as we are aware that tomorrow’s times will be much closer”
Dani Pedrosa – 2nd – 1’40.396 – “Overall this was a good first day, because we were able to try out the track in dry conditions. The asphalt was very dirty this morning and the tyres were getting destroyed immediately so we weren’t able to make much progress. In the afternoon the asphalt was better and we had an opportunity to put in some laps, testing things out with the bike and with the track. We were able to ride more consistently and gather data that will allow us to improve again tomorrow”
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Symmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP1 – Dry. Ambient 19-20°C; Track 24-25°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP2 – Dry. Ambient 23-23°C; Track 33-34°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez got to grips with the challenging track surface at Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo, posting a lap time of 1’39.313 to finish quickest in Friday practice at the Argentina Grand Prix.
Marquez’s quickest lap was set using the medium compound front and hard compound rear slicks, the same combination his teammate Dani Pedrosa used to achieve the second-quickest time of 1’40.396. Third quickest today was NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro, who set a personal best time of 1’40.566.
Track conditions were poor on the first day of the race weekend, with heavy deposits of sand and a lack of rubber on the asphalt combining to reduce grip levels and increasing tyre wear. The dirty track and low track temperatures in FP1 resulted in very high abrasion levels for the rear tyre, but conditions marginally improved for FP2 which helped return grip and tyre wear to a more reasonable level. Today’s peak track temperature of 34°C was recorded at the end of FP2.
With grip hard to come by on the dusty track surface, the soft compound front slick was the preferred option in FP1, while the medium compound front slick was more popular in the warmer FP2 session. All three rear slick compound options were evaluated by riders today, with all specifications providing good performance around the fast Termas de Río Hondo track. With conditions set to improve again tomorrow, riders will use Saturday to determine their preferred tyre choice.
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department – “Conditions were as we expected today, with the sandy track surface causing high rear tyre wear and low grip levels. This problem was compounded by low track temperatures in the morning which resulted in some tyre graining, but we knew that conditions here would get better session-by-session. For FP2 the track showed signs of improvement and this resulted in better tyre wear and greater grip which helped the riders significantly improve their lap times. All rear slick options were used today, as well as the soft and medium compound front slicks, and our allocation for this weekend seems to be well suited to what is quite a challenging track for tyres.”
Marc VDS Report
Marc VDS Racing Team riders Tito Rabat and Mika Kallio finished inside the top 10 at the end of an opening day of practice spent searching for grip on a dirty and slippery surface at the fast and flowing new Circuito Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina.
World Championship leader Rabat was sixth fastest, the Spaniard dedicating his entire time on track in overcast conditions to improving grip and tyre endurance with his Kalex machine.
A lap of 1.45.394 was just over 0.3s away from the quickest pace, with the top 20 riders split by less than a second in a typically fierce Moto2 battle.
Mika Kallio eventually enjoyed a positive start to a milestone weekend in his Grand Prix career. The Finn was 33rd in FP1 but major set-up modifications rocketed him back into the top 10 ahead of what is scheduled to be his 200th start, making him the first Finnish rider to reach the landmark.
Livio Loi, who will celebrate his 17th birthday on race day, made an excellent debut at the 4.086km/2.986 mile track, the Belgian rider running close to the top three for the majority of FP2.
He eventually finished in an encouraging 14th and is confident he can battle for a career first top 10 finish in Sunday’s 21-lap Moto3 race.
Tito Rabat // 6th //1’45.394 – “Today was very difficult and we had many problems with grip because the track is very dirty, especially this morning when it was very bad. In the afternoon the track improved a lot and I could go almost 1.6s faster but I still need to improve the setting of the bike tomorrow to get more grip. This morning we had problems with the rear and in FP2 it was more the front causing me some trouble, so we have to work to find a good balance.”
Mika Kallio // 9th //1’45.419 – “This morning was a complete disaster and a horrible start to the weekend. The rear linkage I prefer is different to what most of the other riders use, and we know it doesn’t work at some tracks when the grip is low. We decided to start with the same package I raced in Qatar and Austin but we saw immediately I was so slow and I destroyed the tyres in the first three laps. We changed the linkage and immediately in FP2 the bike felt completely different and I was much faster. I am happy with the feeling now and it is good to be back in the top 10. The challenge now is to adapt the bike to work as the track gets cleaner and more grip is on the surface.”
Livio Loi // 14th // 1’52.010 – “The track is interesting with some very fast and flowing parts on a Moto3 bike, but as expected this morning the surface was quite dirty and the grip low. I was fourth for a long time in FP2 after a really strong first exit that was close to perfect. I came in to change tyres but I had too much movement on the front on braking into the corners and couldn’t improve my lap time and lost a few places. The grip is going to improve a lot and after equalling my best result in Texas I am going to go for it and try and secure a top 10.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal – “We are satisfied to see both Tito and Mika inside the top 10 because it has not been an easy first day here in Argentina. The track layout is fantastic but it is not easy to find grip and the tyre performance drops quite a bit after a few laps. Tito was still quite strong in both sessions but this morning Mika was really struggling and his crew drastically changed his set-up and he was able to be back inside the top 10 and his improve his pace by over four seconds. The times are very tight and the work we do tomorrow will be important for the race because it looks like the riders that can manage the tyres the best will be the strongest. Livio also did a good job because for a long time in FP2 he was in fourth position. Today was the first time we gave him new tyres at the end of practice to try and help him achieve better laps in the end of the sessions. It was new for him and I am sure in the future it will be a good strategy to help him also be ready for qualifying.”
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.