Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro topped both Friday practice sessions at Argentina
On a day characterized by cloudy skies and an average temperature of 25° C, the MotoGP field took to the track for first free practice in the morning with Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro showing the way at the top of the timesheets.
In the afternoon, after a brief 10-minute delay for a few spots of rain, the track conditions improved and the times came down significantly but once again it was Aleix Espargaro that topped the timesheets on the Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR.
Aleix Espargaro: “As I said before coming here, I like this track a lot and I think it is suitable for our machine. Last year I had a good performance but this year is going even better; early this morning I got back my feeling and could push hard from the very beginning. Even if the track conditions are still slippery, the handling capabilities of my GSX-RR gave me much confidence: only in one corner do we still have chattering problems but we can be very effective in all the rest of the circuit. For sure tomorrow the times will drop significantly therefore we still have a lot to do, but I’m very happy about how the bike reacts and the feelings that I have from it.”
Davide Brivio – Team Suzuki Manager: “Even if it is only the first day, being at the top is a positive feeling and we are now enjoying it. Aleix did a very good job with his provisional pole position and also Maverick had a positive day, yet the machines look to be performing well. The track is not at its best and with these conditions we can exploit the good chassis we have and our experience in making the set-up better. For tomorrow I expect that all our competitors will drop their lap times a lot so we will try to stay as high up as possible in the classification, finalising the best set-up and also evaluating how the tyres drop off as this will give us a good preparation for the race. This circuit is very stressful on tyre compounds so a good choice in tyres could be crucial.”
Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone (+0.535s) was in 2nd, ahead of Marc Marquez (+0.560s) on the Repsol Honda and CWM LCR’s Cal Crutchlow (+0.627s), who once again impressed during practice.
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 1’39.311 (2nd) – “In general, my day went quite well, but we must continue to work the way we are doing now. There are a few things to improve regarding the set-up to get a bit more feeling, and I believe that we can be competitive. The track is in a really difficult state and it’s not easy to find the right grip and the confidence to push hard. Today we tried two different settings and we managed to improve and this in any case is important.”
Marc Marquez – 3RD 1’39.336 [LAP 12/15] – “I’m pretty happy today even if the track was not in the best condition. In the first session I was sliding around a lot, but in FP2 it was better. Things are gradually improving and we felt progressively more comfortable. I think the key to this weekend will be understanding the evolution of the grip level of the track, and adapting the setup to the changes. But the important thing is that we were able to go out and ride, and we are already at a good level.”
Cal Crutchlow #35, 4th – 1’39.403 (lap 16 of 17) – “I’ve only ever done 20 laps at this track before, so overall we are happy enough because the track wasn’t in great condition all day and I don’t think we can take too much from today’s times. Saying that, the lap times weren’t bad at all, but we spent our time working with the hardest option tyre because we felt that would be the one for the race. The nature of the track means the tyres aren’t lasting enough and so you have to slide the bike, even though I’d prefer not to. However, I think you have to ride the Honda out of line, and that’s how you get the best out of it. It’s a learning process for us with the new chassis and with no data from last year so I am pleased with the job the whole of the CWM LCR Honda Team has done.”
The second GP15 of Andrea Dovizioso (+0.658s) finished in 5th just ahead of the Movistar Yamaha of Jorge Lorenzo (+0.687s) who completed the top six.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’39.434 (5th) – “I am satisfied because in comparison with last year we have a good pace, and this is very important for me seeing as in 2014 I didn’t go very well all weekend. We improved the bike a bit in the afternoon but we still have to try and find a race pace that allows us to go fast without a drop in performance after a few laps. Here it’s really difficult because this track is very slippery, but we are working to improve this aspect.”
Jorge Lorenzo – 6th / 1’39.463 / 18 laps – “The grip obviously improved from the first practice to the second and I felt really good with the hard tyre. We put a soft tyre in to improve the lap time towards the end and we were able to do it. Apart from Alex Espargarò with the extra soft tyre we are very close to the rest so let‘s see for tomorrow. There‘s going to be less of a difference than between today‘s sessions but there should be a positive improvement and the rear tyre should last longer. I have a good feeling for the hard tyre so we need to find a good set up for the soft too.”
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Scott Redding made a positive start to the Termas de Río Hondo MotoGP, the British rider comfortably lapping inside the top 10 in both practice sessions before ending the day in eighth position.
Redding’s best lap of 1.39.892 this afternoon was set on Bridgestone’s extra hard compound rear tyre. The new extra hard has been added to the 2015 tyre allocation by Bridgestone specifically to cope with the high speed and high abrasion experienced at the fast and flowing Termas de Río Hondo track but all of the seven riders that finished in front of Redding today set their best times on softer compound rubber. The top three used the medium compound front slick to set their quickest time, but while Marquez set his time using the hard compound rear slick, both Espargaro and Iannone used the medium rear slick for their hot lap.
Scott Redding: 8th – 1’39.892 – “I am happy with how today went. We found a good setting with the bike in Texas and I have hardly changed it here because I want to learn the bike more while I have such a good feeling with it. The track wasn’t in great condition this morning and it was tough to make a good lap time, but we made some progress with the rear pumping on the brakes. I’m happy to set my best time on the extra hard tyre and right now I think that will be my race choice. I can’t tell much difference in performance with the hard option we can use and the extra hard will certainly have better durability for the race.”
Valentino Rossi – 9th / 1’39.947 / 18 laps – “In the second practice the condition of the track improved a lot and already the lap time is very competitive. The big issue is the tyres, we have to decide on the rear and also the front. The first impression of the bike is not so bad although we have to work on the balance and the settings. The position is not fantastic but we are not very far from the top guys so tomorrow we will try to improve the feeling with the bike and also the lap time.”
Maverick Viñales also made a positive debut on the Suzuki, being consistently in the top 10 in both sessions and finally scoring a best lap of 1’40.126, which gives him the provisional 11th position in the classification. He is still working to learn the lines around the track and how to exploit the soft tyre at its best.
Maverick Viñales: “My lap times today have been good, well into the top-10 or very close, and it is good to be competitive at the start. For sure it is only the first day and we still need to work. I feel there is a lot of room for improvement since I have to understand which ones are the most efficient lines around this track and also I definitely need to understand how to exploit my soft tyre. At the moment we need to focus on this, but tomorrow we will also have to decide which tyre to use for the race so we still have a lot to do.”
Nicky Hayden was the fastest Open Class rider of the day. Aspar Teammate Eugene Laverty set a time just 3 tenths of a second slower, placing eighteenth on his first day at the Termas de Río Hondo track.
14th Nicky Hayden 1.40.522 (31 laps): “Honestly, today we started this round in Argentina better than we did at Austin. This is a fun circuit that I enjoy riding at. In the morning the track was a little dirty, but the conditions picked up considerably during the day. Today I had a better feeling than in Austin and was able to ride with more confidence, which is something very positive. Most of my runs today were good, although we have seen that in the second sector we still have some work to do; we need to improve on the back straight and on one of the corners. I am sure that if tomorrow we improve at this sector, then my times will also go down. I’m happy with this first day and we did a good job, but we must continue to evolve over the weekend. Tomorrow we’ll look for a couple of solutions to help us brake better.”
18th Eugene Laverty 1.40.846 (35 laps): “Today was all-new for me, as I was able to ride at the Termas de Río Hondo circuit for the first time. I really like the layout, the only downside is that the surface is a bit dirty and there are still a few sessions needed in order to lay down some rubber. Today I mainly focused on learning the circuit, but our main problem today was that the bike was sliding around too much. That meant that the traction control kicked in too much and kept us from pushing harder. In any case, I’m convinced that tomorrow we can solve the problem. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how things went at a new circuit; we have learned many things and our times were not very far from the top riders, considering how long this track is. Tomorrow we will try to get the bike turning in more.”
Jack Miller was 19th quickest on the LCR Honda.
Jack Miller #43, 19th – 1’40.864 (lap 12 of 17) – “I’m reasonably happy with today because we made some steps forward. I didn’t quite set the lap time that I could have, because although we had the pace we just missed knitting it all together. The bike is working well and I’m enjoying riding this track a lot, so I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. Regarding qualifying we need to start working better in that session to help us for the race, but so far I’m happy with where we are at after the first day in Argentina after a difficult first ride at the track on board the CWM LCR Honda MotoGP bike.”
Standing in for the injured Dani Pedrosa, HRC test rider Hiroshi Aoyama ended the day 21st quickest
Hiroshi Aoyama – 21ST 1’41.380 [LAP 16/18] – “This morning and this afternoon have been difficult for me on the bike. I wasn’t able to get a good feeling or feedback on the bike due to the conditions. FP2 was a little better and we were able to go faster but the position didn’t change that much. It’s not the best way to start this first day but we will analyse the data tonight and try to improve tomorrow.”
Aprilia riders Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri were 22nd and 24th fastest respectively.
Alvaro Bautista – “The track was very hungry today and it ate up all the tyres. Already from this morning we had to use two sets of tyres and in the afternoon I went out with a used tyre. By the end I really didn’t have any rubber left to try and improve on my time. Tomorrow we’ll have to work hard to improve our grip anyway. But I also think that a better asphalt grip situation will be a great help since such poor traction particularly penalises us.”
Marco Melandri – “For the first time I had a decent session. The team did a great job trying some different ideas and implementing some setups that we had never tried before, catering to my needs, and I found a bike that I was able to ride better. Naturally there is still a lot of work to do but it is an improvement. The track conditions will change gradually as it gets more rubberised, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow.”
Slightly warmer temperatures and dry conditions are forecast for tomorrow.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department – “Today’s conditions were as we expected, the dirty tarmac in the morning reducing the grip level and also causing graining on the rear tyres. However, with more rubber on the tarmac in FP2 the track condition improved considerably resulting in improved lap times and greater durability. Considering that track conditions weren’t the best, the fact that the pace is already under the race lap record is a good indication that our tyres are working well and things should only get more competitive with warmer temperatures and better track conditions tomorrow. Another encouraging sign today was the performance of our new extra-hard specification rear slick, with riders commenting that it offers good, consistent grip. Overall, it was a good first day for Bridgestone in Argentina.”
Friday MotoGP Practice Times Argentina 2015
1. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP 1’38.776
2. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati Team 1’39.311
3. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’39.336
4. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) CWM LCR Honda 1’39.403
5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 1’39.434
6. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’39.463
7. Pol Espargarò (SPA) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’39.648
8. Scott Redding (GBR) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS 1’39.892
9. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’39.947
10. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Pramac Racing 1’40.088
11. Maverick Viñales (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP 1’40.126
12. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’40.195
13. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Pramac Racing 1’40.438
14. Nicky Hayden (USA) Aspar Team MotoGP 1’40.522
15. Karel Abraham (CZE) AB Motoracing 1’40.586
16. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Racing 1’40.626
17. Stefan Bradl (GER) Forward Racing 1’40.672
18. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aspar Team MotoGP 1’40.846
19. Jack Miller (AUS) CWM LCR Honda 1’40.864
20. Alex De Angelis (RSM) Octo IodaRacing Team 1’41.152
21. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Repsol Honda Team 1’41.380
22. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’41.490
23. Mike Di Meglio (FRA) Avintia Racing 1’41.531
24. Marco Melandri (ITA) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’41.576
25. Loris Baz (FRA) Forward Racing 1’41.784
Zarco quickest in Moto2 FP2 ahead of Lowes and Kallio
The Moto2 riders returned to the Termas de Rio Hondo track for FP2 this afternoon at the Gran Premio Red Bull de la República Argentina. Despite earlier spots of rain during MotoGP FP2, track conditions were once again good for the Moto2™ session with riders improving their times from the morning.
It was Frenchman Zarco who ended up fastest, setting a 1’42.239 on his Ajo motorsport Kalex. He finished just ahead of Speed Up Racing’s Sam Lowes (+0.067s) and the Moto2™Championship runner-up from last season, Italtrans Racing Team’s Mika Kallio (+0.187s) in third.
The provisional second row consists of reigning Moto2 World Champion Tito Rabat in 4th on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Kalex, Athina Forward Racing’s Lorenzo Baldassarri in 5th and Xavier Simeon on the Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 bike in 6th.
Anthony West finished day one just outside the top ten.
Kent finishes Friday Moto3 practice on top
Grip levels at the Termas de Rio Hondo had improved dramatically from this morning’s FP1 session after riders had cleared the dust off the racing line, with lap times dropping accordingly as the day went on.
It was the winner last time out in Austin who set the fastest time of the day, as Danny Kent managed a 1’49.154 on the Leopard Racing Honda, just five-tenths slower than Alex Marquez’ Circuit Record set last season.
Belgian Livio Loi (+0.411s) on the RW Racing Honda was next, ahead of Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Karel Hanika (+0.411s) and Italian Enea Bastianini (+0.505s) on the Gresini Racing Team Moto3 machine in 4th.
Rounding out the provisional second row were Hanika’s teammate Miguel Oliveira (+0.721s) and young French rider Fabio Quartararo (+0.738s) on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda in 6th.
Young Remy Gardner was 32nd in the 34-rider field.