Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez got to grips with the challenging track surface at AutÃ³dromo Termas de RÃo Hondo, posting a lap time of 1’39.313 to finish quickest in Friday practice at the Argentina Grand Prix. Marquez’s quickest lap was set using the medium compound front and hard compound rear slicks, the same combination his teammate Dani Pedrosa used to achieve the second-quickest time of 1’40.396. Third quickest today was NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro, who set a personal best time of 1’40.566.
Track conditions were poor on the first day of the race weekend, with heavy deposits of sand and a lack of rubber on the asphalt combining to reduce grip levels and increasing tyre wear. The dirty track and low track temperatures in FP1 resulted in very high abrasion levels for the rear tyre, but conditions marginally improved for FP2 which helped return grip and tyre wear to a more reasonable level. Today’s peak track temperature of 34°C was recorded at the end of FP2.
With grip hard to come by on the dusty track surface, the soft compound front slick was the preferred option in FP1, while the medium compound front slick was more popular in the warmer FP2 session. All three rear slick compound options were evaluated by riders today, with all specifications providing good performance around the fast Termas de RÃo Hondo track. With conditions set to improve again tomorrow, riders will use Saturday to determine their preferred tyre choice.
“It was a fun day, 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 tyre on during the entire session. That was to enable us to keep more tyres 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 tyre 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.”
“Overall this was a good first day, because we were able to try out the track in dry conditions. The asphalt was very dirty this morning and the tyres 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.”
“A difficult day here in Argentina at the new track. The conditions are not fantastic and we are struggling very much with the tyres, especially the rear. In the afternoon it became a bit better and we worked well with the bike but we still haven’t found the right balance so we have to work to make it better. We have to concentrate on making the tyre work harder as after a few laps the rear slides a lot. We hope the conditions of the track improve but we will also work to improve the setting of the bike for tomorrow.”
“We are having problems with the tyres because there is a lot of graining and the tyres only have a good performance for six or seven laps. In the morning I was the last one to put a tyre in so I had a better grip at the end of the practice, that’s why I was first. In the afternoon I was the opposite: I stayed with the old tyre at the end of the session when everyone had a new one; that’s why our position was not so good. I think our real position is in the top five today. If we can make the tyres last we will have an advantage.”
“In general, I am happy with the first day of practice here in Argentina, especially as I finished as the leading Yamaha. The circuit is as nice as it seemed to be and it was not different from my expectations, with my favourite part being the last corner. It feels like riding Supermotard back at Colin’s Ranch, it’s just amazing! The main point of today was to learn the circuit, and to establish a base setup which we achieved, and I feel confident with. I am still not sure on the choice of tyre, but tomorrow I will ride on both varieties in order to decide which one to use when the track surface will be cleaner. We will continue to look at modifying the setup in tomorrows session, as we need to improve the race pace a bit more. However, I’m confident that we are in a good position to qualify well and fight for a strong result on race day”.
“Today was positive for me, and my impressions of the new circuit here in Argentina were good – it’s different to the other tracks we visit, which makes it more entertaining to ride.The layout is really nice, it is technical with long, fast and blind corners. My favourite part is probably T4 where you have to change direction quickly, and also the last corner. Actually, my pace in this sector was also strong, but I have to improve the first one where I was losing time and we will work to develop this area tonight. Another aspect where we still have some margin to refine is the front setup of the bike, but the feelings are positive especially because I have been competitive straight away this morning.
“I’m happy to be back on track after Austin, where we had several issues with the rear tyre. 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.”
“All in all it was a good day, even if I struggled a bit with the tyres this morning. In the FP2 we changed some electronic setting and the feeling improved. I’m sure that we can make another step forward tomorrow. I’m learning the new track and I look forward to get a good result.”
“This morning we were fast from the start, I could had a lot of confidence with the track despite the lack of grip. I’m sorry that in the second free practice session after a few laps we had a technical problem and I had a bad crash, because in that point of the track we go very fast. I have a bit of a headache but for the crash I had I could have gotten hurt much more. I thank the team and the ducats for support.”
“I am happy with the way I took on the two practice sessions today, I managed to improve little by little. I feel that the setting of the bike is almost ready, we need to work on some small details for qualifying practice. The track is very slippery but I can handle the bike and stay on the racing line. tomorrow I will do my best to finish qualifying with a good result.”
“It was a bit of a lively session for me. We didn’t have the opportunity to do many laps because of my Desmosedici’s engine problem, and on a new track you always need to do so. Despite this I managed to be fast here, and I think I’ve been able to interpret this track pretty well. For sure the times will drop tomorrow, but we all have a big problem with tyre wear and at the moment it’s difficult to do 25 laps at the right pace. I hope the track conditions improve tomorrow. I set my time on a soft tyre, because when I was using the hard tyre I had a problem with the engine and had to change bikes.”
“It was a bit of a difficult session, but we managed to get some good indications for tomorrow. Today I didn’t use the soft tyre because I needed to improve my feeling with the bike. I am confident because the GP14 is going well: I’m just missing a bit of rhythm but tomorrow I’m sure I can move up the timesheets. Cal’s bike has a slightly different set-up to the one I normally use in the tests: the track however is new for everyone and it’s me who has to adapt to the bike. Tomorrow in any case I count on being closer to the other Ducatis.”
“As expected the track is not in a very good shape. It was quite dirty this morning but slightly improved in the afternoon for the second session. On these conditions it’s extremely important to save the tyres for the next days to be in a good position for the qualifying. So far we did a positive job setting the 4th lap time but we have to analyse the data and see where we can reduce the gap to the riders in the front. Let’s see how the track will be tomorrow but for the moment I am having fun lapping here and the crowd is amazing”.
“Today we faced a very dirty track: in these conditions it’s very difficult to understand which tyre can work properly. In any case, we need to work hard on the bike set-up to improve its behavior: In this moment I am forced to use a lot the throttle to make the bike turn, and doing so I stress a lot the rear tyre, and as a result the tyre performance drops quickly. As happened today from morning to afternoon, the track conditions change very quickly: today, the other riders were able to improve more than us. Surely tomorrow the conditions will be even better, but we need to do our best regardless. After that, we will wait until the last minute to decide which tire to use for the race”.
“The first free practice session was good, despite a very dirty track, while in the second session I struggled with bike set-up: we tried various solution to try to find the right direction, and we have already some ideas ideas on the changes to be made tomorrow, especially regarding the suspension. The situation is complicated even with regard to the tyres, which drop a lot after only 4 laps: therefore, we don’t know yet which tyre we will for the race. We’ll decide it tomorrow, when the conditions will be definitely better, with more rubber on the asphalt”.
MotoGP Argentina combined FP timings
- 1. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’39.313
- 2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’40.396
- 3. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1’40.566
- 4. Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’40.891
- 5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 1’41.042
- 6. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’41.303
- 7. Pol EspargarÃ² (SPA) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’41.368
- 8. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’41.395
- 9. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’41.533
- 10. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Pramac Racing 1’41.924
- 11. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’42.029
- 12. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Energy T.I. Pramac Racing 1’42.128
- 13. Karel Abraham (CZE) Cardion AB Motoracing 1’42.348
- 14. Colin Edwards (USA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1’42.608
- 15. Nicky Hayden (USA) Drive M7 Aspar 1’42.621
- 16. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Racing 1’42.739
- 17. Brok Parkes (AUS) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’42.827
- 18. Michele Pirro (ITA) Ducati Team 1’42.898
- 19. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Came Iodaracing Project 1’43.106
- 20. Mike Di Meglio (FRA) Avintia Racing 1’43.125
- 21. Michael Laverty (GBR) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’43.151
- 22. Scott Redding (GBR) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’43.165
- 23. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Drive M7 Aspar 1’43.347