MotoGP 2017 – Round Two – Argentina – Day One Report

Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) stole the headlines again on Day 1 of the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina, taking to the top to take over from reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). 

Maverick Viñales – P1

“I feel very positive. I feel great on the bike and physically I’m really fit. The bike is working good, we are using the basic set-up, and from the first lap I felt really comfortable on the track. Step by step we are improving and we still have some work to do for the race, but I think we have the speed, so that’s really important. I don’t know if the hard rear will be an option for the race. It’s difficult to tell, because we had some wheel spin, so I don’t know. We are trying many things, but what is sure is that we have good speed. We still have to decide on a race tyre. Tomorrow we have a lot of work to do, so let’s start and see what the lap times are like.”

Maverick Vinales
Maverick Vinales

Marc Marquez had a lowside crash in FP1, but escaped unscathed to duel it out at the top of an unexpected first day at Termas de Rio Hondo.

Marc Marquez – P2

“I’m quite happy with today because although we still have some issues to sort out, we’re not far from the top. As always happens here in Argentina, today the track was quite slippery in the beginning, and I crashed this morning because I was pushing a little too hard and went a bit off line. Anyway, after that we worked really hard and found a promising setup. We’re still missing something, and tomorrow we’ll try to improve in the second sector, especially the acceleration at turns 3 and 4.”

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez

The biggest news behind the two men at the front saw some big names outside the top ten after FP2 – with rain a possibility on Saturday and combined practice times crucial in deciding entry to Q2 qualifying.

Third on a shuffled pack of a Day 1 was an incredible performance from Pull&Bear Aspar Team’s Karel Abraham, as the Czech rider just pipped his teammate Alvaro Bautista in an impressive third and fourth for the Independent Team.

Karel Abraham – P3

“The Ducati has always been a good fit for me. I was close to finishing as the Rookie of the Year on it in 2011 and now I am back on a Ducati I can say I think this is the best bike I have ever ridden. I am happy to be near the top, we will keep working hard to stay here and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. There was a little more grip this morning than this afternoon but everybody managed to improve. We started the second session on the same tyre we finished the first one with and managed to put race distance on it with good lap times right to the end. This morning we were already in the top five and to finish third at the end of the day is very satisfying.”

Karel Abraham
Karel Abraham

Álvaro Bautista – P4

“I think it has been a good way to start the Grand Prix, especially after the crash in Qatar. We are back to more ‘normal’ conditions here and I felt good this morning, even though I didn’t have the tyres in to set a fast lap because they already had 20 laps on them. This afternoon we didn’t change much with the bike, just focused on trying different tyres to make sure we have a clear idea for the race in case it rains tomorrow.  I am quite fast on the medium front, whilst on the rear I am lacking a bit of contact with the hard, the medium was a bit better and the soft was quite unstable and it would be impossible to go race distance with it because of the bumps. I think we have everything pretty clear.” 

Álvaro Bautista
Álvaro Bautista

Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) was fifth, with Reale Avintia Racing’s Loris Baz another impressive performance in P6.

Danilo Petrucci – P5

“I’m happy with today’s work. We did not make big changes to the set up we had in Qatar and I immediately felt at ease. Since this morning we worked well on little details and I really enjoyed riding: it was also nice to be able to understand immediately what needed to be done to improve. Maybe I could have done better in the time attack, but I made a couple of mistakes and I lost something. All things considered I am very happy”.

Danilo Petrucci
Danilo Petrucci

Loris Baz – P6

“I had a problem with one of my bikes this morning, but it was not a big issue. Also, the first session here is only useful to clean the track, so it was not a drama. In the afternoon we tried some different settings and all of them were better, so I was able to set a good pace on hard tyres, and finally I went out with the rear soft and with Maverick’s reference I did a really good lap. I think it was possible to go even faster if I had used the hard front, but I’m still very happy. I have improved every time I got on track, and this is most important. I enjoy riding the bike and although I have an upset stomach, the day was really positive.”

Loris Baz
Loris Baz

Seventh was 2016 Brno and Phillip Island winner Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), ahead of German Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie Jonas Folger, who was top rookie on Day 1.

Cal Crutchlow – P7

“Today was quite good, I was happy enough with the way it went in the end. It was not fantastic and I think the Hondas struggled today to find the settings with the new configuration of the engine”.“I’m sure tomorrow will be more positive once we’re able to look at some data tonight. We had the mandatory tyre test which I think we completed quite well and in the last run we were fast enough for my liking. But I think we can still improve tomorrow and that’s what we’ll be aiming to do.”

Cal Crutchlow
Cal Crutchlow

Jonas Folger – P8

“With it being my first time at this circuit on a MotoGP bike, today went quite well. The track has a low grip level so we focused a lot on the electronics as well as the power delivery, plus the team and I also experimented with the tyres a bit. At the end of the day I am 8th and the fastest rookie, so we can be pleased with what we have achieved so far. I know that I can especially improve in the first sector because I am losing some time there, as that area of the track is quite bumpy and I need to build my confidence in the first two corners, where some people have crashed already. We will analyse the data tonight so that we can understand how to be faster, and let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Jonas Folger
Jonas Folger

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was ninth, with Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone completing the top ten in what could be some critical combined timesheets if weather changes overnight.

Aleix Espargaro – P9

“The feeling today was strange. I still haven’t found the sensations I had in Qatar, especially when it comes to stopping the bike. I think that as the track improves, things will sort themselves. Right now we are still too close to the limit for me to feel at ease on the bike. In any case, we were able to get into the Top-10 and that is positive, since the weather forecast calls for rain tomorrow and that could make it difficult to improve times in view of qualifying.”

Aleix Espargaro
Aleix Espargaro

Andrea Iannone – P10

“The day was not bad, we started pretty well this morning, and in the afternoon things went better as well. The feeling is already good. We focused mostly on the tyres more than on the machine and we made some beneficial improvements. I already have some ideas for tomorrow and maybe also for the race, but we still need to modify some things on the machine and improve the settings so that I can be even more successful.”

Andrea Iannone
Andrea Iannone

Outside the top ten saw Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) and Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in P11 and P12, in front of Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa in 13th – and the ‘Baby Samurai’ also suffered a lowside, low-drama crash in FP2, rider ok.

Scott Redding – P11

“It was not a bad day. I found consistently but I never had that feeling that I had in Qatar since the first exit. In any case i must say that we are on the right direction. I’m sorry for that tenth of a second that would allow me to finish in the top 10 but in the time attack I have not found any benefit from soft tire. It will be important to understand which tire we’ll use for the race”.

Scott Redding
Scott Redding

Johann Zarco – P12

“Overall I am happy and both of the sessions went quite positively for me. We worked well and made constant steps forward which is important as well as encouraging, plus my rhythm is good and I feel comfortable on the bike. However, at the last corner, I am losing a bit of time so we need to understand how we can improve the grip at that section of the track. This is the only area where I was not able to advance on my personal best from FP1. Therefore, it’s a bit of a pity because this limitation meant that I didn’t finish inside the top ten, and if it rains tomorrow, as it is expected to, then I will need to compete in QP1. Yet the most important thing is to stay on the pace and keep working in order to be ready for the second race of the 2017 season.”

Johann Zarco
Johann Zarco

Dani Pedrosa – P13

“Today wasn’t the best day for us because we suffered a rear-tyre puncture in FP1 and couldn’t fully exploit the session until the end. In FP2 we started well, testing some tyres when the track conditions were good enough like we had planned, but unfortunately, when I was improving during my second exit, I lost the front and had a small crash. I was trying the hard front for the first time, it was only my second lap of that run, and I may have pushed too hard. That wasn’t ideal for the time attack at the end of the session, because the feeling was different after the crash. Well, sometimes you have days like this, and hopefully the weather will stay good tomorrow and we’ll be able to improve.”  

Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosa

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was another big name in P14, with Reale Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera completing the top 15.

Andrea Dovizioso – P14

“This afternoon’s session was a bit strange: there were a few aspects of the bike that in my opinion didn’t work well and so I was not able to lap with any sort of continuity during the session. I didn’t have a good rhythm and we weren’t entirely sorted regarding the electronics, and it was a real pity to be outside the top 10 because tomorrow it might rain.”

Andrea Dovizioso
Andrea Dovizioso

Hector Barbera – P15

“I’m not happy. In the morning I went more or less okay, but this afternoon we didn’t program the session in the right way and we tried a wrong set-up that was useless. I don’t have too much to say, the only positive thing today was that even like this, I was able to set a decent lap time on my own and we are not so far from the fastest rider. We have a clear idea for tomorrow and my target will be to get into the top 10 in FP3 and go straight to Q2. I’ll try, and if I can’t, I’m sure that we will be really close, because my feeling is good and the Ducatis are working really well at this track.”

Hector Barbera
Hector Barbera

Just behind Barbera saw nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) taking P16 – with another five world titles outside the top ten as Ducati Team rider Jorge Lorenzo ended Day 1 in P18.

Valentino Rossi – P16

“We hoped to have a good feeling, like we had in the race with the bike, but it was more similar to what the feeling was like in the practice sessions in Qatar and in the tests. We have a lot of problems to enter the corners fast with this bike and I don’t feel comfortable. I’m about one second behind, but the problem is that we are all close together and we have a lot of different riders that are very fast, so we need to improve the feeling and the setting of the bike and we hope that tomorrow morning’s FP3 will be dry. We will try to improve and try to stay in the top10 for the qualifying.”

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi

Jorge Lorenzo – P18

“We are certainly not happy with today’s position, but in the penultimate exit of the second session things were going well and had a good feeling with my bike. Unfortunately at the end we fitted the soft front tyre and this was probably a mistake, because I am convinced that with the harder tyre I could have knocked a few tenths off my time and improved my position a lot. Let’s hope that the weather is OK tomorrow and that it will allow us to lap on a dry track both in FP3 and in qualifying.”

Jorge Lorenzo
Jorge Lorenzo

Mindful that FP3 may be run on a wet surface with rain predicted tomorrow, Jack Miller went into soft tyre time attack mode in the final stages of today’s second session, to try and claim an all-important top 10 placing that could potentially put him straight into Q2 tomorrow if rain disrupts proceedings. But he did not get the expected increase in performance and grip from a brand new Michelin soft rear tyre and he finished 17th overall, but only 1.1s off top spot in an incredibly closely fought session.

Jack Miller – P17

“I was pretty satisfied with my pace this morning and I was very optimistic that I could keep my place inside the top 10 this afternoon. But when we stuck in a soft tyre at the end of this afternoon’s session it just didn’t give me the grip I anticipated. Sometimes that scenario can happen and unfortunately this time it was me on the wrong end of it. That was a shame but the positive is that I have a good feeling with the bike, even though the track is slippery. I’ve now got to hope the weather doesn’t turn bad for FP3 because I need it dry to try and force my way back into the top 10. I can’t control that but whatever happens I will be giving it 100%.”

Jack Miller
Jack Miller

Ramon Aurin – Jack Miller Chief Engineer

“One of the main tasks for us today was to work on adjusting the electronics and gearbox to suit the different character of the engine we are now using with Honda. This engine develops power in a different way compared to last year, so we need to adjust the gearing to have more rpm in some of the slower sections. Turns 5 and 13 are second gear corners and these are the two corners Jack was looking for the biggest improvement. He also wants less movement from the front but I think his potential is higher than what the timesheets show. On his last run on the new soft tyre, we checked the data and he had the same level of spinning as he had on a used hard rear, so we missed out on challenging for the top 10.”

Back to full fitness after his pre-season injury woes, Tito Rabat was pleased to set a consistent rhythm, which bodes well for a point scoring challenge in Sunday’s 25-lap race.

Tito Rabat – P19

“We can improve a lot for tomorrow but I am happy with my performance today. I wasn’t at my physical best in Qatar after the big crash in Sepang at the start of testing but now I have full power and feel confident to push myself and the bike to the limit. I’m most pleased about the consistency of my lap times and I understand the potential of the bike. I am not far behind Jack and Lorenzo and Rossi so I have to be satisfied.”

Tito Rabat
Tito Rabat

It was a positive day for Rins, considering his physical condition. He decided to start the first session without any painkillers or support on his ankle to better understand his present condition. Then he had a bandage applied in the afternoon to give him a stronger support without restricting the foot’s mobility. He was able to make solid progress in the bike set-up and enjoy the circuit. His focus is on gaining more experience this weekend as he doesn´t feel the pressure to push himself too far.

Alex Rins – P20

“This morning I didn’t have as much pain as I expected in the ankle, and adaptation to the circuit has been very good. It has been a shame that we have come all this way with an injured foot. I can tell I’m going fast in the corners where my foot does not bother me. In the afternoon I came out with the foot bandaged, but it hurt more than in the morning. At the first start I rode well, but as the laps went by I felt more pain and could not go as fast as at first. For tomorrow, I will try to ride with some painkillers to see if it helps me to lessen the pain and try to do a good qualifying lap.”

Alex Rins
Alex Rins

KTM men Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith were 21st and 22nd on the charts respectively, while Sam Lowes rounded out the field 2.7-seconds down on pacesetter Vinales. 

Sam Lowes – P23

“It was difficult to choose the right tyre option at the right time today, because the conditions were changing rather quickly. I feel like I could have shaved off a few tenths, but it isn’t fundamental. At the moment I am happy because I feel much more comfortable on the bike compared with Qatar. We will be able to be more competitive here, especially in terms of race pace. We know that we need to improve without making any mistakes and continuing to build our performance calmly. Trying the RS-GP in the wet would also not be bad. I have never done that but it could be interesting.”

Sam Lowes
Sam Lowes

Next is FP3, and that all-important final chance to get into the top ten and gain automatic entry to Q2 – with all eyes on the sky to see how the weather changes. The session begins on Saturday at 9:55am local time (GMT -3), with Q1 and Q2 qualifying getting underway from 14:10

MotoGP 2017 – Round Two – Argeninta – Day One Free Practice Times

  1. VINALES Maverick 25 SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’39.477
  2. MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team 0.301
  3. ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Pull&Bear Aspar Team 0.403
  4. BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Pull&Bear Aspar Team 0.445
  5. PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Octo Pramac Racing 0.483
  6. BAZ Loris 76 FRA Reale Avintia Racing 0.643
  7. CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda 0.647
  8. FOLGER Jonas 94 GER Monster Yamaha Tech 3 0.680
  9. ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 0.698
  10. IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Team Suzuki Ecstar 0.773
  11. REDDING Scott 45 GBR Octo Pramac Racing 0.861
  12. ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 0.863
  13. PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team 0.868
  14. DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team 0.922
  15. BARBERA Hector 8 SPA Reale Avintia Racing 0.954
  16. ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1.054
  17. MILLER Jack 43 AUS Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1.111
  18. LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Ducati Team 1.122
  19. RABAT Tito 53 SPA Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1.431
  20. RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 1.606
  21. ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 2.155
  22. SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 2.597
  23. LOWES Sam 22 GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 2.702


Qatar winner Franco Morbidelli (ITA) also in excellent form in Argentina

Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) kept his good form rolling on Day 1 of the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina, topping the timesheets once again – ahead of Dynavolt Intact GP rider Marcel Schrötter taking Suter into the top two. Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) completed the top three.

Franco Morbidelli – P1

“The first day here in Argentina has gone very well. We worked well in both sessions and I was fast in both, so this means we kept the momentum and confidence going from the pre-season and the win in Qatar. The important thing now is to keep our focus for the rest of the weekend so I can be challenging for the win again on Sunday. I spent most of today concentrating on managing the grip on used tyres, and we are already at a decent level with the bike. Now we must wait and see what will happen with the weather because I heard there is the possibility of some rain. But I feel we are prepared for whatever is thrown at us and we will be able to deal with all conditions in a calm and methodical way.”

FP1’s fastest Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) was P4 on combined times, ahead of the new KTM chassis in P5 with Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo). 2014 Moto3 World Champion Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was sixth fastest, suffering a fast crash at T3 on Day 1 but escaping unhurt.

Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) led compatriot Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) in P7 and P8, with Xavi Vierge impressing for Tech 3 Racing Team in ninth. Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten) completed the top ten.

Remy Gardner finished day one in 17th place, only 8-tenths from Morbidelli’s benchmark.


Joan Mir (SPA) tops the timesheets while leading the Championship

Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) continued his form following his win in the #QatarGP, taking to the top of combined times late in FP2 to end Friday on top. Key rival Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) was the closest challenger to the Mallorcan, ending the day half a second back. Compatriot Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) bounced back from a difficult Qatar GP in style to complete the top three.

British Talent Team rider John McPhee was holding the top spot until late on and ended the day in fourth – more fantastic form from the Losail podium finisher. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completed the top five, just ahead of RBA BOE Racing Team rider Juanfran Guevara. Second RBA rider and home hero Gabriel Rodrigo impressed in FP1 despite having broken his collarbone in Qatar, with the Argentine rider passed fit to race and ending first practice in P2 before being hampered by some technical issues in FP2.

Darryn Binder put in a good performance for Platinum Bay Real Estate in P7 on combined times, with Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Livio Loi (Leopard Racing) and Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completing the top ten.

Top rookie on Day 1 in Argentina was Honda Team Asia rider Kaito Toba, with the Japanese rider impressing in P13.