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Abraham and Bautista on top in Argentina
Third and fourth position for Pull&Bear Aspar riders in free practice at Termas de Río Hondo, behind Viñales and Márquez
The early MotoGP World Championship leader remains the man to beat in Argentina. After topping every preseason test and dominating the opening round of the season in Qatar, Maverick Viñales continued his good form in round two, clocking a 1’39.477 in free practice that very few riders were able to follow. The closest was Marc Márquez, a two-time former winner at this circuit, although even he was three tenths adrift. Behind him, Pull&Bear Aspar pair Karel Abraham and Álvaro Bautista, along with fellow Independent Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci, were the only other riders able to break the 1’40 barrier. With rain forecast for tomorrow it promises to be an interesting day ahead to see who can qualify for Q2 and who will have to play their cards in Q1. The current top ten contains just three factory riders and seven Independent riders, all separated by a mere seven tenths of a second.
Karel Abraham and Álvaro Bautista were the stars of the opening day of MotoGP action in Argentina. The Pull&Bear Aspar riders were on the pace throughout both sessions and in the final stages of the second outing a good lap from Bautista was followed immediately by a slightly better one from Abraham to move them into the top two positions. In the end, only Maverick Viñales and Marc Márquez were able to post faster laps, dropping the pair to a stunning third and fourth place overnight.
3rd Karel Abraham 1:39.880 (32 laps): “The Ducati has always been a good fit for me. I was close to finishing as the Rookie of the Year on it in 2011 and now I am back on a Ducati I can say I think this is the best bike I have ever ridden. I am happy to be near the top, we will keep working hard to stay here and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. There was a little more grip this morning than this afternoon but everybody managed to improve. We started the second session on the same tyre we finished the first one with and managed to put race distance on it with good lap times right to the end. This morning we were already in the top five and to finish third at the end of the day is very satisfying.”
4th Álvaro Bautista 1:39.922 (34 laps):“I think it has been a good way to start the Grand Prix, especially after the crash in Qatar. We are back to more ‘normal’ conditions here and I felt good this morning, even though I didn’t have the tyres in to set a fast lap because they already had 20 laps on them. This afternoon we didn’t change much with the bike, just focused on trying different tyres to make sure we have a clear idea for the race in case it rains tomorrow. I am quite fast on the medium front, whilst on the rear I am lacking a bit of contact with the hard, the medium was a bit better and the soft was quite unstable and it would be impossible to go race distance with it because of the bumps. I think we have everything pretty clear.”