MotoGP: Blistering Marquez sets the pace in Argentina
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez started the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina on top form, finishing the day 0.404 seconds clear of closest rival Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) despite a wobble in pitlane and a few moments for the reigning Champion. But with plenty of late chopping and changing – with all the riders battling it out to get into the top 10 for fear of the weather changing on Saturday – the Spaniard’s reign at the top of the timesheets rarely looked under threat.
Fellow Honda rider Crutchlow was his nearest challenger, however, finishing the day as top Independent Team rider at a track he’s had good results on in the past. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was third after topping FP1 in a last lap dash, with Honda in control at Termas de Rio Hondo so far.
Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) was the first non-Honda rider to make it straight to provisional Q2 entry as he impressed, ending the day just 0.043 behind the number 26 and as top Ducati. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone completed the top five with his laptime from FP1, with the Italian showing good pace in Argentina.
Last year’s winner Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) finished Friday in P6, 0.067 ahead of his teammate Valentino Rossi as the rider from Roses made big progress up the timesheets in the afternoon, while Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) propelled himself into eighth right at the end of the day. Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Johann Zarco held on amongst a late flurry of quick laptimes to end the day in P9, with Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) taking the final provisional Q2 spot in P10.
It was a difficult day for both factory Ducati Team riders, with Andrea Dovizioso 1.543 seconds back in 15th and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) just behind. With Rabat leading the way so far for the Borgo Panigale marque, both will want to move forward on Saturday – and will be hoping the weather stays clear to allow improved laptimes on the hunt for Q2.
Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) showed more impressive pace to end the day as the fastest rookie, less than a second off Lorenzo’s time on his first visit to the track in the premier class.
The battle to get the final Q2 spots looks to be red hot. Can anyone stop the number 93 from taking pole? Find out tomorrow, with FP3 kicking off at 10:55 (GMT -3).