These just in:
Marquez tightens his grip
The reigning World Champion set the fastest qualifying time for the third consecutive race in a row, and will head up a grid that includes teammate Pedrosa on the front row.
Marc Marquez left his challengers no chance during the second day of the Grand Prix of Argentina. The Repsol Honda rider dominated both free practice sessions and smashed the clock during qualifying to land his third pole position of the year. Teammate Pedrosa rounded out a good day by qualifying on the front row, and will start the race from third position behind Jorge Lorenzo.
Improving in every practice, Marc Marquez again offered himself as the favourite for the win in tomorrow's race after leading every session. For his qualifying display, he stopped the clock at 1 minute, 37 seconds and 683 thousandths, leading Lorenzo by 0.742. Pedrosa followed as third fastest by 0.968, after following his teammate in second place during the third and fourth practice sessions, with a time of 1'38.651.
The third round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship will mark the return of the World Championship to Argentina, to be held tomorrow at 14:00 local time.
"Today I really felt good on the bike and I am happy to have taken pole position! In the morning and in FP4, we worked a lot with the used tyre and this afternoon we obviously focused on qualifying. I put in a very good lap and I think that tomorrow it will be interesting to see which tyre will be required for the race, because there are various options for both the front and the rear ‒it is going to be a difficult choice! One of the keys for the race will be tyre management, in order to try to get to the end with optimal grip ‒which will allow us to make the difference."
Dani Pedrosa 3rd
"Qualifying did not go perfectly. I wasn't as fast as I wanted to be and I know that I made a few mistakes ‒especially on the final corner‒ which hindered me a lot. However, I'm happy, because the important thing is that we had some good practice sessions. We are high up the grid for tomorrow, so we shall try to make the most of this and have a good race."
First Front Row of 2014 for Lorenzo in Argentina
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo scored his first front row start of the season today, taking second in qualifying for tomorrows Gran Premio de la República Argentina at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. Teammate Valentino Rossi took a second row start with sixth place.
In an unusual move Lorenzo was the last to exit the pit lane today in qualifying, waiting for the pack to go before hitting the track in quiet space. The Mallorcan chose to go out with the harder option rear tyre for the first time attack, using it to score a best time of 139.248 to take fourth in the provisional standings. Lorenzo then returned to the pits to switch to the medium, softer option rear tyre and was back on track with five minutes remaining in fifth place. The softer tyre was the key to a front row, helping him to jump three places further up to second, securing his first front row start of the season with a 138.425 second lap.
Rossi also took his time to leave the pits for the qualifying session, exiting just before Lorenzo as second to last on track. The nine-time world champion got straight down to business, scoring a temporary fifth place on his first flying lap with a 139.421. A second flying lap saw him then enter the pits for fresh rubber 1.132 seconds from first with a 139.359. With just over five minutes remaining he was back out and breaking under the 139 mark. Rossi scored his session best on the sixth lap with a 138.949 to take sixth on the grid on the second row.
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Teams Bradley Smith confirmed his status as the one to watch for this season, by pulling off another positive qualifying performance. He cemented his 7th place on the grid for tomorrows inaugural race.
Smith focused on fine-tuning the race setup during the FP3 session, and evaluated which front and rear tyre compound would be the best for tomorrow's race, considering the ever improving track conditions. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider showed complete resilience and sailed easily through from Qualifying 1 to Qualifying 2, even setting his best Q1 time on used tyres. He later confessed that the 15 minutes of extra track time had been an advantage as the young British rider rode his Yamaha YZR-M1 with agility around the meandering circuit and a best time of 1:38.958 which was less than a hundredth of a second behind multiple world champion, and Factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi. Tomorrow Smith will once again aim to challenge for a top 5 position, and battle with the Factory MotoGP bikes.
Pol Espargaro ran immediately at pace at the Circuito Termas de Rio Hondo, and displayed his persistent efforts and hard work today. The reigning Moto2 World champion walked away from a fall at the final turn in FP3, and was unhurt aside from a minor finger injury, but still qualified straight through to Q2. During Qualifying 2, the MotoGP rookie rode courageously to set a best lap of 1:40.407, and is confident of fighting for his second top ten points scoring finish in succession.
It was a great qualifying session for NGM Forward Racing rider Aleix Espargaro who set an excellent 138.794 that puts him at the head on the second row, only one tenth behind Dani Pedrosa, who closes the front row. Aleix was satisfied with his race pace and tomorrow he will take the start of the Argentina GP, aiming at finishing in the top five positions.
It was a positive day also for his team mate Colin Edwards, who was out of the Q2 for less than 3 tenths. Colin found a good feeling with his Forward Yamaha and was able to improve his lap times, recording a promising 140.476. Tomorrow he will start from the 14th position on the grid.
We are trying to solve every challenge we can to be as competitive as possible. Today we made a small modification before the qualifying practice that proved to be good. It was better entering the corner and also gave us more traction so I could be a bit faster. I pushed at the maximum with the soft tyre to make a fast lap time and was able to make it. We are trying our best to be as competitive as possible and take the maximum so we are satisfied with the result.
I am happy about today, it was a good practice. This morning we improved a lot the bike and this afternoon I had a good pace and was quite constant. Unfortunately I wanted to make it better in the fastest lap but I was not able to make the last 10%. I am in the second row that is quite good, we have to work and decide the tyres but I have a good feeling. We will see tomorrow.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
Our situation is getting better. Once the circuit improved grip we automatically got faster. Combined with this we have also made big improvements to the setting and the track knowledge of the riders has improved. Now we are trying to find something else on both sides of the garage for the warm up where we can test it to be ready to start the race. Jorge delivered a really strong performance in qualifying; he showed what he is capable of with a great flying lap for second place. Vale did well and the second row is a good place to start for tomorrows race. We know his pace is good so we are confident he will be competitive and with the front guys. We expect to improve for tomorrow and we dont expect the tyres to be an issue. We have our eyes firmly set on the podium.
I am really pleased with 7th position going into tomorrows race. Participating in Qualifying 1 wasnt part of the plan, but during FP3 I was concentrating on doing long runs with used tyres to make the best choice for tomorrows race. But in the end, it even helped us, as the extra track time enabled us to test a few more setting changes. This was especially beneficial as the bike was struggling a bit in the braking areas, which we managed to amend. I was able to go quicker on a used hard tyre during Qualifying 1 and then could further lower my lap time on the soft in Q2. Still, things could have gone better, because I knew the track was improving but I made a small error on my first flying lap on the soft, so the tyres grip dropped. If this didnt occur, maybe I would have had a chance at the second row. It will be tough tomorrow as the track is evolving all the time. I think we need to race with the hard rear tyre as it will be the most consistent. My aim is to get a good start and try to remain with the Factory Yamahas.
Honestly I am quite disappointed with my qualifying result of 11th, but I still feel confident of achieving a good result tomorrow as my rhythm was competitive during all the other sessions and I really felt comfortable on the bike. After the crash this morning, I felt a little bit confused but beside a small injury on my finger I was lucky to getaway unhurt and it will not be a problem for tomorrow. This afternoon I decided to try the hard tyre to improve my lap time in qualifying but this was the wrong choice. I felt stronger on it the whole weekend, but the changing grip level and higher temperatures did not put me in the best conditions to get the maximum out of my bike. We still have to try a few things during the warm up, and also the final tyre decision has to be made. In any case I will give it my all during the race, and with a good start Im convinced I can battle with the other satellite riders.
Im really happy of the work done today: I have a strong race pace and the feeling with the hard tyre is good, so I aim at finishing in the top 5 tomorrow. Its a pity that with the soft tyre I couldnt push as I wanted. As in Austin, I lost the opportunity to start from the front row for one tenth. Anyway Im confident for the race and I start determined to get a good result.
Today we tested a new set up on the front and the feeling has improved. Im not struggling so much compared to Qatar or Texas so this is very positive. Step by step we are improving and I look forward to get a good result tomorrow. My congratulations to Aleix, who is doing an incredible job and to the whole team.
Argentina GP qualifying: Row 2 for Dovizioso with fifth place, Pirro down in nineteenth
Andrea Dovizioso qualified in fifth place for the Argentina GP, third round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship, which will take place tomorrow at the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo in the north of the country. His team-mate Michele Pirro, who is replacing the injured Cal Crutchlow, was unable to find a good feeling with his Ducati Team Desmosedici GP14, and could only finish nineteenth.
In the early stages of Q2 Dovizioso set a time of 1m39.545s on his second lap out, which powered him close to the top of the times in the provisional standings. After returning to the pits to fit a second soft tyre, Dovi then managed to further improve by seven-tenths of a second, ending qualifying with a time of 1m38.856s, which earned him a row 2 start position for tomorrow's race.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) - 5th (1m38.856s)
"I am very happy with my position: starting from row 2 tomorrow is fine. But I'm happy above all for the good work we did today. This morning we were quick over one lap, but rather slow over race pace because we were wearing out the rear tyre in a strange way. However we managed to improve the set-up of the bike a lot, this afternoon I was able to lower my pace by almost two seconds, and so now I can get a relaxing night's sleep! I did a really good lap in qualifying, and when you do this the feelings are always great. Managing the tyres in the race will be very complicated; when you go to a new circuit, with a dirty track surface and no rubber, there are always these problems. I am sure that tomorrow in the race, as well as speed, the difference will be made by those who can ride smoothly and not aggressively."
Michele Pirro (Ducati Team #51) - 19th (1m41.018s)
"I am pretty disappointed because I was not able to find a good feeling with my Desmosedici GP14. I don't exactly know why, but I struggled a lot more than expected. This is in no way the position we should be with this bike, so now me and my engineers will try and find a solution for me to run a decent race tomorrow and repay my team for all the work they've done in these days."
Stellar lap sees Marquez claim third successive pole position
Round 3: Argentina MotoGP - Qualifying Practice
Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo, Saturday 26 April 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Symmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP3 - Dry. Ambient 19-21°C; Track 26-31°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP4/QP - Dry. Ambient 25-25°C; Track 41-42°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez kept his perfect pole record for the season intact, as the reigning World Champion set a scorching lap time of 1'37.683 in qualifying for the Argentina Grand Prix.
Marquez's first flying lap in Qualifying Practice 2 was quicker than any of his rivals could manage, but he went even quicker on his penultimate lap to finish to finish 0.742 seconds clear of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo who finished in second place. On the other Repsol Honda, Dani Pedrosa will start tomorrow's race in third place on the grid with his lap time of 1'38.425 securing him a front row slot.
Track conditions improved today with more rubber and less dust on the asphalt providing a slight increase in grip compared to yesterday. The peak track temperature of 42°C was recorded during Qualifying Practice and was an increase of 8°C from yesterday's high. The better track surface enabled riders to extract more performance from the tyres, with a significant improvement in lap times and more consistent performance over race distance. The hard compound rear slick was the preferred option among the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders, providing more consistent performance while the medium compound rear slick was more popular with the Ducati and Open-class riders.
For the time attack in Qualifying Practice 1 and 2, riders used the softer rear slick options available to them, although some riders also set impressive lap times on their harder rear slick option. With three front options available this weekend, front tyre choice for today's sessions showed a strong preference for the medium compound front slick, although all three specifications were utilised by riders today.
The next MotoGP session is the morning Warm Up session at 0940 local time (GMT -4) with the twenty-five lap Argentina Grand Prix set to start at 1400.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
"The track surface improved again today and this brought with it better grip levels and tyre durability. In today's practice sessions we could see some riders were able to still set quick lap times on tyres which had completed almost race distance, so this bodes well for tomorrow's race. Perhaps the best example of this was Marquez setting the quickest time in FP3 on a rear tyre that he had run more than twenty laps on. It seems the harder rear slick options for the Factory and Open-class riders will be the most prevalent options for tomorrow's race, while the medium compound front will be used by most riders for the race."
BRADL GETS THE 9TH PLACE AT TERMAS DE RIO HONDO QP AFTER A CRASH
Termas de Rio Hondo, 26 April: LCR racer Stefan Bradl missed the chance to produce another strong result in today's first 15-min Q2 session at Termas de Rio Hondo, having suffered a big high-side on his second flying lap. The German used his prior knowledge of the new circuit to slot into the top five yesterday and his pace quickened significantly on day two but his performance on soft rubber was ruined by the tumble. He was not comfortable enough to rejoin the session in the last minutes and was taken to the Medical Centre for further investigation. After the treatment the 24-year-old felt much better and he is now ready to start the 25-lap race from the 9th spot on the grid.
Stefan: "First of all I am feeling much better now and this is extremely important. I crashed on turn two but we do not know what happened exactly because the traction control was working properly and this is an unusual high-side for a MotoGP bike. I had a big impact on the asphalt and did not feel 100% when I went back to the garage so we preferred to quit our session. The doctors from the Clinica Mobile looked after me and after the treatment I feel good. I just have to rest tonight and get ready for tomorrow because the 9th position is not a disaster and we are all lapping on similar pace so I still can catch the front guys".
Third and sixth row for Pramac Racing
A beautiful sunny day on this second day of the Grand Prix of Argentina. Pramac Racing Team riders improve their lap times, also thanks to the better track conditions due to the rubbering of the racing line. A good qualification for Andrea Iannone that made him earn the eighth place on the starting grid, Yonny Hernandez struggled a little bit more with his qualifying in seventeenth position.
Andrea Iannone - Pramac Racing - takes on the day still sore from yesterdays crash, despite this, the twenty-four year old is still competitive. The determination of Andrea and the excellent work of the Team are earned him the eighth place in FP3 which gave direct access to the qualifying practice. The qualification was not perfect but still satisfactory, the Maniac Joe starts off from eighth place on the grid and has a good setting to do well in tomorrow's race.
Yonny Hernandez - Energy T.I. Pramac Racing - continues it improve both his lap times and his race pace during the third and fourth practice sessions. Unfortunately, he still lacks the experience to interpret the qualification session where the Colombian rider was unable to make the best of the soft tire. With a his best lap time in 1'40"691 that earns him the sixth row.
Andrea Iannone ( Pramac Racing)
"Today was a good day, I had a good qualifying session. I still have pain in my neck after yesterday crash but despite this we managed to do a good job improving the bike a lot. On my sigle lap, as last year, I still struggle a bit, for tomorrows race I have a good pace and I think I can do well. I thank the team for all the hard work and Ducati. "
Yonny Hernandez (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)
"I'm not satisfied with my qualifications today because I could not get a good rhythm and I was not as fast as I wanted. Tomorrow I think I will do much better i have a good race pace even with the used tire. In the race I want to do a good result not only for me but and for this race in South American, I believe in myself and I'll do my best to finish in the points. "