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.
“It was a fun day,” Marquez said. “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 tire on during the entire session. That was to enable us to keep more tires 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 tire 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.”
During Friday morning’s FP1 Marquez and Pedrosa chose to remain on the same soft rear tire for the entire session while they adapted to the new track. However, in the afternoon on a cleaner track, both riders made substantial gains. Pedrosa shaved 5.328s off his time with 1:40.396.
“Overall this was a good first day, because we were able to try out the track in dry conditions,” Pedrosa said. “The asphalt was very dirty this morning and the tires 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.”
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.
“I’m happy to be back on track after Austin, where we had several issues with the rear tire,” he said. “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.”
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.
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.
The Moto3™ FP2 session 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.
MotoGP Practice Results
Rider Num. Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
- 1 Marc Marquez 93 ESP Repsol Honda Team HONDA 1’39.313
- 2 Dani Pedrosa 26 ESP Repsol Honda Team HONDA 1’40.396
- 3 Aleix Espargaro 41 ESP NGM Mobile Forward Racing YAMAHA 1’40.566
- 4 Stefan Bradl 6 GER LCR Honda MotoGP HONDA 1’40.891
- 5 Andrea Dovizioso 4 ITA Ducati Team DUCATI 1’41.042
- 6 Bradley Smith 38 GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 1’41.303
- 7 Pol Espargaro 44 ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 1’41.368
- 8 Valentino Rossi 46 ITA Yamaha Factory YAMAHA 1’41.395
- 9 Jorge Lorenzo 99 ESP Yamaha Factory Racing YAMAHA 1’41.533
- 10 Andrea Iannone 29 ITA Pramac Racing DUCATI 1’41.924
- 11 Alvaro Bautista 19 ESP Go & Fun Honda Gresini HONDA 1’42.029
- 12 Yonny Hernandez 68 COL Pramac Racing DUCATI 1’42.128
- 13 Karel Abraham 17 CZE Cardion AB Motoracing HONDA 1’42.348
- 14 Colin Edwards 5 USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing YAMAHA 1’42.608
- 15 Nicky Hayden 69 USA Drive M7 Aspar HONDA 1’42.621
- 16 Hector Barbera 8 ESP Avintia Racing MotoGP FTR-KAWASAKI 1’42.739
- 17 Broc Parkes 23 AUS Paul Bird Motorsport PBM 1’42.827
- 18 Michele Pirro 51 ITA Ducati Team DUCATI 1’42.898
- 19 Danilo Petrucci 9 ITA IodaRacing Project IODA-SUTER 1’43.106
- 20 Mike Di Meglio 63 FRA Avintia Racing MotoGP FTR-KAWASAKI 1’43.125
- 21 Michael Laverty 70 GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART & PBM 1’43.151
- 22 Scott Redding 45 GBR Go & Fun Honda Gresini HONDA 1’43.165
- 23 Hiroshi Aoyama 7 JPN Drive M7 Aspar HONDA 1’43.347
–From motogp.com and Repsol Honda