Marc Marquez takes pole for Argentine MotoGP
They say you can’t keep a good man down, and after a more difficult Qatar GP, reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) bounced back in stunning style after the rain came down in Argentina – mastering the tricky damp and drying conditions to take his first pole position of the year.
“Today on the full wets in FP4, I was really comfortable. It was a little bit slippery but the feeling was very good. In qualifying the conditions were different and not the best for my riding style, as it was half wet and half dry, but we managed and tried to do a great lap and ultimately got the pole. I even thought about fitting the slick but then, speaking with Santi [Hernandez], we decided not to do it. We did a good job with the team and I’m very happy to start from the front row tomorrow. They say it will be dry, so the race will be another story, but we’ll try to find a way to fight for the podium.”
With Marquez clear at the top, it was a stunning ride into P2 for Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) – who put his GP15 straight into the mix at the front and kept it calm for his best ever premier class start. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), after also impressing earlier on Saturday, completes the front row in an exciting line up at the front.
Karel Abraham – P2
“This feels amazing, it feels just great. The conditions today have been really bad since this morning but I really enjoyed qualifying. I love this circuit, which helped, and yesterday we made a strong start. I knew it would be difficult for us to prove that we could stay at the top today and tomorrow it will be even harder but our targets have not changed. We know what we want and what we need to achieve and we will work for that. This result puts us at a great advantage for tomorrow’s race.”
Cal Crutchlow – P3
“I went to the best of my package and the best of my ability in those conditions. But I believe I am faster than that in these conditions, the settings were not perfect and I made a few mistakes on that lap”.“But Marc (Marquez) did a good job, and also Karel (Abraham) – it’s nice to have a bit of a different front row. Here in Argentina, it’s always a special circuit to ride at and I think the crowd were entertained today with a dry practice and a wet one. Hopefully we can perform well again tomorrow in the race.”
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) was another who converted the Q2 opportunity into great slot on the grid, as he heads the second row from Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team).
Danilo Petrucci – P4
“I’m happy with this result even though I would have liked to win the first row. I knew it was a goal to reach, with difficult track conditions that allow me to express myself well. The race? I like this track a lot, I feel at ease. It will be important to get off a good start. I think we can do a good race and to be honest, my goal is to finish in the Top 8”.
“It has been a challenging day, as we had to go through QP1 after rain started falling midway into FP3 this morning and I didn’t have the chance to improve my lap time enough to get into the top 10. The rain also affected FP4, causing us a bit of confusion with the electronics setting at the beginning, but in the end we were able to improve. We set the fastest time in Q1 and after that we earned a second-row start, which is very positive as we recovered a lot compared to yesterday. Now we must keep working for tomorrow to have the best race possible.”
Pedrosa led the charge in Q1’s clash of the titans and moved through along with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) – setting the scene for a Q2 with a difference.
Qatar winner and Championship leader Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completes the second row – just ahead of veteran Italian teammate Rossi by less than a tenth.
Maverick Vinales – P6
“Im not disappointed. We struggled a bit with the rear grip and I dont know why. I felt some strange sliding on the wet, completely different than on the dry, so we have to analyse it. I think we still have to work. It was the first time I went out on the Yamaha in the rain, so there is a lot of work to do on the wet set-up, but Im happy. In the end, Im the first Yamaha and Valentino is always really fast on the wet, so Im quite satisfied and confident. Its only the second row. From there I can have a good start and also contend for the victory tomorrow.”
Valentino Rossi – P7
“This is p7, its nothing fantastic because in the wet I wasnt able to go fast like I was last year. We still have to work, but anyway this third row is not so bad and now we have to wait to see what the conditions will be like tomorrow. We hope for either full dry or full wet. We have a better understanding and improved the setting today and on the first exit I wasnt so bad, but we still have to work. Its interesting, theres a different feeling in the corner entry that I have on the new bike, and it is the same also on the wet. Sometimes the wet is interesting to understand and its good to improve the balance and the setting. “
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“Today the weather conditions played a major role in the outcome. It already had its influence in FP3 this morning, because we had a lot of things we wanted to try. When the rain became heavier in the second half of the session, it prevented the riders from putting in a soft tyre. Because of this Valentino had to go through Q1 to get a place in Q2. Today was Mavericks first mixed qualifying session aboard his YZR-M1. As a result he suffered from a lack of grip on the rear, as he hadnt had the opportunity to work on his wet setting before today. However, he once again proved that he is a very versatile rider and quickly adapted to the situation. We have seen how strong Mavericks pace is yesterday and in todays free practice he again set fast laps, this time in the damp conditions. All in all, we got a lot of work done in todays two practice sessions and Valentino also made a good step, so we are quite certain that they will both be strong contenders tomorrow, regardless of the weather.”
Behind the ‘Doctor’ was another solid performance from Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider Aleix Espargaro, who will line up in P8 following his heroics in the Qatar GP to take Aprilia’s best result since returning in 2015.
Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) was an early hero in the wetter conditions with a provisional front row, and the Frenchman will line up in ninth after later improvements from many in the field. Pull&Bear Aspar Team’s Alvaro Bautista completes the top ten.
Álvaro Bautista – P10
“It’s always more difficult in the wet than the dry but we did a really good job yesterday and I was confident with my rhythm. However, we were barely able to get any work done this morning and just before the second practice of the day it started to rain so it cost us a few minutes of preparation. We went straight into qualifying not feeling completely comfortable with the electronics. Hopefully tomorrow the weather is more like yesterday so that we can challenge higher than tenth. I would have liked to finish further forward, nobody is ever completely satisfied with anything but first place, but the conditions were strange, between wet and dry. We are clear that we will use the medium compound rear tyre but we are still unsure on the front because I still haven’t tried the hard option, so that’s the only doubt we have going into the race. But I felt pretty good on the medium. I want to congratulate Karel and the team because it is a very important result for everybody. Maybe he took more risks than everybody else today so let’s see if we can both cap it off tomorrow with a good result to make the whole team happy.”
Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was top rookie in qualifying and the only rookie in Q2, lining up just ahead of Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone after the Italian had a moment on his final charge.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) complete the top 15 – just ahead of a difficult day for Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team).
Andrea Dovizioso – P13
“Unfortunately this morning I wasn’t able to complete the FP3 session because it began to rain and so in the end I didn’t get into the top 10. In Q1, despite having set a good time, I ended up in third place in the final seconds of the session and it was a real pity because I’m sure that in Q2 we could have obtained a good position on the grid, which is very important here. If that’s the way it went, then it means that we still have to improve a lot of things, but even though I’m starting down the grid, I think we have every possibility of moving up and doing a good race.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P16
“It was a pity about today’s rain, because I’m sure we could have improved our position in dry conditions a lot. Unfortunately in both FP3 and Q1 we couldn’t take advantage of the improvements that we found with a new riding position on the bike, even though I know I still need time to get used to it. Tomorrow however it should be dry and let’s see if I can manage to put in a better performance in the race than I did in practice.”
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller was disappointed to miss an opportunity for a top five starting position in qualifying for the Argentine Grand Prix. Miller was impressively fifth fastest in the earlier rain hit FP4 session and was confident of a strong showing in QP1 and the chance to go through to QP2.
In a bid to go faster the decision was made to switch to the soft compound wet weather tyre in low grip conditions at the 4.8km Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. In the end the harder compound tyre was the better option but time ran out to make a late change leaving a frustrated Miller 17th on the grid for Sunday’s 25-lap race.
Jack Miller – P17
“I wasted a lot of time with the wrong tyre choice which was not ideal because I had good speed in the wet, I just didn’t get the opportunity to show it. In FP4 I used the hard tyre and was fast and then for qualifying I tried the soft and didn’t even get half a lap before it was gone, just too much spin. I was strong on corner entry so it’s a real shame but we’ll move forward to the race and hopefully some better weather.”
For teammate Rabat it was a day of working through set-up options to give the Spaniard a comfortable feeling in the tricky and slippery conditions and he improved his FP4 time by 1.5 seconds.
Tito Rabat – P20
“The conditions today were not very good and I was missing a lot of rear grip on the wet track. I switched to my second bike and was happy with the set-up changes we made but there wasn’t enough time to adjust everything and feel more comfortable. But I feel this experience will be a good platform for the race if the conditions are the same.”
Michael Bartholemy – Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Team Principal
“It was a disappointing qualifying especially as in this type of condition we can usually perform very well but for some reason we could not deliver on our expectations. The bike set-up would not allow Jack to maximise his ability to be fast in these conditions. Now we must wait for the race and hopefully do what we did in Qatar with both Tito and Jack finishing in the points.”
The Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team took another step forward onboard the the KTM RC16 with factory riders Pol Espargaro (ESP) and Bradley Smith (GBR) qualifying in eighteenth and nineteenth position on wet tarmac.
Pol Espargaro – P18
“I think we could have even done more today and been more in front, but overall we’re better than we were in Qatar. Obviously we’re improving, but we need to continue this way. It looks like the race tomorrow will be in dry conditions, not in the wet like in qualifying today so everything is going to change. We’ll start a bit more in front that we did in Qatar so it’s a bit better, but in the dry it will also be a matter of the best choice of tire. We need to have a good start and at least to be fighting with them in the first laps, and then do a good race.”
Bradley Smith – P19
“It was a little bit tough because we went in the wrong direction with the setting. Then the rain created some problems for us at the end of FP3. During FP4 we went out in the wet for the very first time and I struggled to get the confidence I needed. So we made a big change before FP4 and I started to feel much better. Then I got faster and faster the more laps I did, so I’m pleased. We’ve got 4-5 guys behind us, which is great considering it was our first few laps in the wet. We were very close to the likes of (Jack) Miller and Jorge (Lorenzo). We know the Ducati is strong in the wet, and we also know that Miller has done a fantastic race in the rain last year. I’m pleased with the outcome. We’ll wait to see what weather we have tomorrow. It will be important to have a good start and try to learn something from the guys around us.”
Sebastian Risse – KTM Technical Director MotoGP
“Basically our plan for today was pretty much dictated by the weather conditions. So in FP4 we had wet conditions for the first time at a race weekend, and we worked with the best we had for a wet setting. In Bradley’s case, it was the first time he had ridden our bike in the wet anywhere. It could have been quite an unlucky situation to just do FP4 in the wet and then go straight into qualifying but honestly it worked out pretty well for both riders and we didn’t have to make too many adjustments. Depending on the weather conditions tomorrow we can either do some more fine-tuning based on that, or we can keep going with the dry settings that we developed in the other practice.”
The lights go out for the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina at 16:00 local time (GMT -3), with everything set up for another incredible modern MotoGP classic.
MotoGP Qualifying Results
- MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team 1’47.512
- ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Pull&Bear Aspar Team 1’48.275
- CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda 1’48.278
- PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Octo Pramac Racing 1’48.908
- PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team 1’49.008
- VINALES Maverick 25 SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’49.218
- ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’49.272
- ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’49.323
- BAZ Loris 76 FRA Reale Avintia Racing 1’49.630
- BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Pull&Bear Aspar Team 1’49.724
- FOLGER Jonas 94 GER Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’49.825
- IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Team Suzuki Ecstar 1’50.725
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team 1’49.488 (Q1)
- ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’49.916 (Q1)
- REDDING Scott 45 GBR Octo Pramac Racing 1’50.048 (Q1)
- LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Ducati Team 1’50.310 (Q1)
- MILLER Jack 43 AUS Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1’50.319 (Q1)
- ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1’50.673 (Q1)
- SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1’50.676 (Q1)
- RABAT Tito 53 SPA Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1’50.910 (Q1)
- BARBERA Hector 8 SPA Reale Avintia Racing 1’51.058 (Q1)
- LOWES Sam 22 GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’51.199 (Q1)
- RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 1’52.340 (Q1)
Portugal’s Miguel Oliveira setting another record for his country
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) will start from a stunning first pole position in the Moto2 class for the new KTM chassis – setting the first Portuguese pole since his own at Termas de Rio Hondo in the Moto3 category in 2015. But it was anything but easy, with an incredible three-way fight against Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Alex Marquez deciding the front row. Qatar winner Morbidelli starts P2, with 2014 Moto3 World Champion Marquez P3.
Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) heads the second row, ahead of some incredible laps from Jesko Raffin (Garage Plus Interwetten) and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team), with Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) at the front of Row 3 in P7.
Xavi Vierge continued his stunning run of form to take eighth for Tech 3 Racing, with Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) completing the top ten.
Top rookie was Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) in P12, with one surprise seeing Qatar podium finisher Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) down in P22.
Moto2 Qualifying Results
- Miguel Oliveira (POR – KTM) 1’45.616
- Franco Morbidelli (ITA – Kalex) +0.099
- Álex Márquez (SPA – Kalex) + 0.248
John McPhee (GBR) first pole for the BTT, his career’s third Moto3 front row
John McPhee (British Talent Team) has taken pole position in the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina, as the Brit timed it to perfection to set the best lap of the session before the rain flag came out. Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) shot up the timesheets in the final seconds as one of the only riders to improve into second, with Qatar podium finisher Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) completing the top three.
Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) put in a solid session to head the second row, with second Del Conca Gresini Moto3 rider Fabio Di Giannantonio taking fifth in a big leap of progress. Fellow Italian Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) locks out the second row in P6.
Juanfran Guevara took seventh for RBA BOE Racing Team, ahead of Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) and an impressive performance from SIC58 Squadra Corse rider Tatsuki Suzuki. Südmetall Schedl GP Racing’s Philipp Oettl completed the top ten.
Home hero Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing Team) was a late improver as he fights through the pain barrier following a collarbone break in Qatar, and will start his home race from P13.
In the difficult damp conditions late on, Championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) couldn’t improve from P16, with the Red Bull KTM Ajo Team also suffering the weather with Niccolo Antonelli in P14 and Bo Bendsneyder in P17.
John McPhee – P1
“I’m really happy with the weekend so far and to claim my first pole position of the year in what is actually the first official qualifying session this season. My pace has been strong from free practice one and I’m able to manage the tyres really well. I did my fastest lap with 10 lap old tyres so this gives me a lot of confidence going into what should be a really exciting race tomorrow. Really good job from all my team and HRC!”
Remy Gardner – P25
“I am a bit disappointed with my qualifying position but the big day is tomorrow and I’m sure that we can close the weekend positively. At the end of the session, we fitted the slick tyres and then during my second to last lap, I was running a good rhythm and feeling confident. However, at the first corner, the front of the bike tucked and I ran wide which disrupted my concentration. Nevertheless, I kept focused and started my last lap and that was going positively until the final corner, where I unfortunately just went in a bit too hot, which sent me to the wetter part of the track, and I lost time. This was a shame but we have to focus on tomorrow now. In the dry I have a good pace, so I’ve got to make a solid start just like in Qatar, then we will see what happens but I am ready to fight.”
Moto3 Qualifying Results
- John McPhee (GBR – Honda) 1’49.094
- Nicolo Bulega (ITA – KTM) +0154
- Jorge Martin (SPA – Honda) + 0.229