These just in from Rio
Abraham takes stunning second on Argentina grid
Pull&Bear Aspar rider finishes seven tenths off pole in wet session that sees Álvaro Bautista qualify tenth
The Grand Prix of Argentina is set for its fourth edition tomorrow at the Autódromo de Termas del Río Hondo and for the fourth time it will be Marc Márquez who starts from pole position. The Spaniard produced a masterclass in wet conditions this afternoon to leave his closest rival trailing by some seven tenths of a second. That man is Pull&Bear Aspar rider Karel Abraham, who produced a stunning performance to clock a 1’48.275, narrowly holding off fellow front row starter Cal Crutchlow by 0.003 seconds to secure second place on the grid.
With the majority of factory riders missing out on Q2, Abraham made the most of his opportunity to record his best ever MotoGP qualifying result (his previous best was sixth at the British GP in 2011 when just sixteen riders started) and the best ever grid position for the Pull&Bear Aspar Team in this category.
His team-mate Álvaro Bautista had also qualified directly for Q2 thanks to his fifth best time in free practice but he wasn’t quite able to match his dry performance in the wet and will start from tenth. The Spaniard is hoping that the weather improves for tomorrow so that he can return to the sharp end of the field in the race.
2nd Karel Abraham 1:48.275 (7 laps): “This feels amazing, it feels just great. The conditions today have been really bad since this morning but I really enjoyed qualifying. I love this circuit, which helped, and yesterday we made a strong start. I knew it would be difficult for us to prove that we could stay at the top today and tomorrow it will be even harder but our targets have not changed. We know what we want and what we need to achieve and we will work for that. This result puts us at a great advantage for tomorrow’s race.”
10th Álvaro Bautista 1:49.724 (8 laps):“It’s always more difficult in the wet than the dry but we did a really good job yesterday and I was confident with my rhythm. However, we were barely able to get any work done this morning and just before the second practice of the day it started to rain so it cost us a few minutes of preparation. We went straight into qualifying not feeling completely comfortable with the electronics. Hopefully tomorrow the weather is more like yesterday so that we can challenge higher than tenth. I would have liked to finish further forward, nobody is ever completely satisfied with anything but first place, but the conditions were strange, between wet and dry. We are clear that we will use the medium compound rear tyre but we are still unsure on the front because I still haven’t tried the hard option, so that’s the only doubt we have going into the race. But I felt pretty good on the medium. I want to congratulate Karel and the team because it is a very important result for everybody. Maybe he took more risks than everybody else today so let’s see if we can both cap it off tomorrow with a good result to make the whole team happy.”
Movistar Yamaha Qualifies on Second and Third Row in Argentine Time Attack
Mixed conditions and the associated lack of grip at the Termas de Río Hondo Circuit formed the main challenges for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders today. Nevertheless, Maverick Viñales gave a solid performance in uncertain conditions to secure sixth place on the grid for tomorrows Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina in his very first qualifying session on the Yamaha. Teammate Valentino Rossi showed off his brilliance in a tense Q1, having the fans scream for joy when he entered the top2 in the final minutes. He went on to secure seventh place in Q2, right behind his teammate.
Viñales felt excited to embark on his first time attack on the Yamaha with the intention to push to the limit in the tricky conditions. After waiting for most of his rivals to have left their box during the 15-minute shoot-out, he charged towards the pit lane exit, ready to make full use of some clear space on track. Though he was held back due to rear grip issues, the 22 year-old wasnt shy to open the throttle and consistently improved his times over the first three flying laps.
He sat in fourth place when he made a short pit stop with five minutes remaining. A minute later the Spaniard was back on his mission to move up from seventh place, trying to put his YZR-M1 in the top spot. He had just enough time for one hot lap and clocked a 149.218s, 1.706s from first. This personal best lap was enough to secure him sixth place on the grid for his second race start with Yamaha.
Rain in the final stages of FP3 saw Rossi line up for a tense Q1. Lying in sixth place after his pit stop in the first qualifying session, it was time to bring his a-game. He set a 150.062s, which lifted him to provisional third place, but was demoted to ninth when his fastest lap time was canceled due to exceeding the track limits. However, the fight wasnt over.
The Doctor pulled a rabbit out of the hat as he had one more go. He went on to set a personal best time in the first three sectors and pulled off a red time on s4. It was enough to secure him provisional first place, before being pushed back to second by a late hot lap by a rival after the flag had fallen.
The Italian duplicated his earlier strategy in Q2, being the last man to leave pit lane. He immediately moved up to third place as he had done in Q1. As he was unable to improve during his second attempt on the tyre he had already used in the previous session, he speeded back to the pit box for a fresh set of rubber.
With five minutes left on the clock, the nine-time World Champion headed back out on track. Now in eighth place, he put his game face on and started knocking out solid 149s laps. On his final try he posted a 149.272s, 1.760s from the front, to take seventh position on the third row, after an eventful evening.
Position: 7th – Time: 1’49.272 – Laps: 8
“This is p7, its nothing fantastic because in the wet I wasnt able to go fast like I was last year. We still have to work, but anyway this third row is not so bad and now we have to wait to see what the conditions will be like tomorrow. We hope for either full dry or full wet. We have a better understanding and improved the setting today and on the first exit I wasnt so bad, but we still have to work. Its interesting, theres a different feeling in the corner entry that I have on the new bike, and it is the same also on the wet. Sometimes the wet is interesting to understand and its good to improve the balance and the setting. “
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“Today the weather conditions played a major role in the outcome. It already had its influence in FP3 this morning, because we had a lot of things we wanted to try. When the rain became heavier in the second half of the session, it prevented the riders from putting in a soft tyre. Because of this Valentino had to go through Q1 to get a place in Q2. Today was Mavericks first mixed qualifying session aboard his YZR-M1. As a result he suffered from a lack of grip on the rear, as he hadnt had the opportunity to work on his wet setting before today. However, he once again proved that he is a very versatile rider and quickly adapted to the situation. We have seen how strong Mavericks pace is yesterday and in todays free practice he again set fast laps, this time in the damp conditions. All in all, we got a lot of work done in todays two practice sessions and Valentino also made a good step, so we are quite certain that they will both be strong contenders tomorrow, regardless of the weather.”
Folger and Zarco ready for Argentina GP fight after powering through the rain in qualifying today
The Monster Yamaha Tech3pair fought against the tricky conditions this afternoon to clinch two solid grid positions for the main event tomorrow. Jonas Folger progressed straight through to Q2 due to his 8th place finish in the combined rankings, and he leapt into action when the qualifying commenced. Ultimately, the young German qualified as the top rookie and he will kick off the sprint from 11th on the grid. Whilst Johann Zarco will launch forward from one row behind his teammate. His personal best from FP2 left him 13th in the overall standings, which put him into the Q1 shootout. Here, he dug deep before posting his quickest lap in the final moments of the super competitive session. The Motul sponsored Argentina Grand Prix will begin at 16:00 local time or 21:00 in central Europe.
Position: 11th – Time: 1’49.825 – Laps: 7
“It was a tricky situation today but I did my best and now I am looking forward to the fight tomorrow. In FP4 the conditions were fully wet, yet, the front suspension on my bike was a bit too hard, so we softened it for qualifying. However, then the asphalt started to dry in QP2 and we didnt have time to change the settings back. In the end, we fitted a new tyre, which put more load on the front, but I was still a bit limited. Nevertheless, I think that we are in a decent position to fight for some good points tomorrow. We made progress from yesterday regarding how the Yamaha handles the bumps at this track so we will see how the pace is on the race bike in warm up, but I am feeling positive and Im sure we can do a solid job.”
Postion: 14th – Time: 1’49.916 – Laps: 8
“For the Argentina Grand Prix I will start from the fifth row of the grid but I am confident and we expect to have a good race tomorrow. Unfortunately, I was not able to get into the top ten in FP2 and then it was not possible to lower the lap time in practice this morning due to the rain. Having said that, the work that we have completed is satisfying and my confidence with the bike is always increasing. I feel good on the track here, and I can control the YZR-M1 well, but I wasnt in the top ten yesterday afternoon because we didnt play enough with the tyres and do a quick lap at the right moment. I was a bit unlucky and its a shame to not be a bit further up the grid, but I will learn from this. Still, I feel comfortable on my Yamaha and the overall feeling is very positive so let’s see what we can do.”?
Marquez takes fourth consecutive pole in Argentina, Pedrosa positive on second row
Marc Marquez achieved another milestone in his career today, taking his fourth consecutive Argentinian pole position (out of four visits to the Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit), his 38th in MotoGP, and the 66th of his career, setting a new record across all classes of the Championship, at only 24 years of age.
Marc was the only rider who was able to get into the 1’47” range in the wet conditions that affected the qualifying session.
Dani Pedrosa also made the best of a tricky situation after a morning drizzle prevented him from getting a top 10 result in FP3. Forced to participate in QP1, he set the fastest lap in that wet session to join his teammate in the fight for the top positions, ultimately qualifying on the second row with the fifth-fastest lap time.
Weather forecasts indicate dry conditions for tomorrow’s MotoGP race, which will get underway at 4 p.m. local time.
POLE POSITION 1’47.512
“Today on the full wets in FP4, I was really comfortable. It was a little bit slippery but the feeling was very good. In qualifying the conditions were different and not the best for my riding style, as it was half wet and half dry, but we managed and tried to do a great lap and ultimately got the pole. I even thought about fitting the slick but then, speaking with Santi [Hernandez], we decided not to do it. We did a good job with the team and I’m very happy to start from the front row tomorrow. They say it will be dry, so the race will be another story, but we’ll try to find a way to fight for the podium.”
“It has been a challenging day, as we had to go through QP1 after rain started falling midway into FP3 this morning and I didn’t have the chance to improve my lap time enough to get into the top 10. The rain also affected FP4, causing us a bit of confusion with the electronics setting at the beginning, but in the end we were able to improve. We set the fastest time in Q1 and after that we earned a second-row start, which is very positive as we recovered a lot compared to yesterday. Now we must keep working for tomorrow to have the best race possible.”
Miller fast but frustrated in qualifying in Argentina
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller was disappointed to miss an opportunity for a top five starting position in qualifying for the Argentine Grand Prix.
The wet track conditions were the perfect gift for noted rain master Miller although in the end the 22-year-old Australian could not maximise his potential for a faster time.
Miller was impressively fifth fastest in the earlier rain hit FP4 session and was confident of a strong showing in QP1 and the chance to go through to QP2.
In a bid to go faster the decision was made to switch to the soft compound wet weather tyre in low grip conditions at the 4.8km Termas de Rio Hondo circuit.
In the end the harder compound tyre was the better option but time ran out to make a late change leaving a frustrated Miller 17th on the grid for Sunday’s 25-lap race.
For teammate Rabat it was a day of working through set-up options to give the Spaniard a comfortable feeling in the tricky and slippery conditions and he improved his FP4 time by 1.5 seconds.
Now both Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders are focusing on the race and repeating their points scoring performances at the opening round in Qatar.
Jack Miller: 17th – 1’50.319
“I wasted a lot of time with the wrong tyre choice which was not ideal because I had good speed in the wet, I just didn’t get the opportunity to show it. In FP4 I used the hard tyre and was fast and then for qualifying I tried the soft and didn’t even get half a lap before it was gone, just too much spin. I was strong on corner entry so it’s a real shame but we’ll move forward to the race and hopefully some better weather.”
Tito Rabat: 20th – 1’50.910
“The conditions today were not very good and I was missing a lot of rear grip on the wet track. I switched to my second bike and was happy with the set-up changes we made but there wasn’t enough time to adjust everything and feel more comfortable. But I feel this experience will be a good platform for the race if the conditions are the same.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It was a disappointing qualifying especially as in this type of condition we can usually perform very well but for some reason we could not deliver on our expectations. The bike set-up would not allow Jack to maximise his ability to be fast in these conditions. Now we must wait for the race and hopefully do what we did in Qatar with both Tito and Jack finishing in the points.”
Gran Premio de la República Argentina – Qualifying
Stunning Petrux: 4th on the grid
and quickest Italian in Argentina.
Scott (15th) with confidence for the race
A fantastic Saturday for Danilo Petrucci at Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina. Following the good feelings of Friday’s free practices, finished in P6, Petrux confirmed to be the fastest Italian rider so far in the Argentine weekend, conquering a superb fourth place that will allow him to start from the top spot of the second row in the Grand Prix de Repubblica Argentina tomorrow.
For Danilo also a great confidence given by the excellent pace recorded in FP4 (4th time) in wet conditions.
Positive sensations even for Scott Redding, who lapped very fast in a dry FP3 session (with the hard tire) skimming the direct qualification to Q2 (-71 milliseconds). The British rider felt at ease in wet conditions also, ending up FP4 one tenth of a second behind the Top 5. In Q1, however, Scott was not able to find the ideal conditions to beat the competition of Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi, finishing in 15th position with a best time of 1’50.048.
4th – Danilo Petrucci – 1’48.908
“I’m happy with this result even though I would have liked to win the first row. I knew it was a goal to reach, with difficult track conditions that allow me to express myself well. The race? I like this track a lot, I feel at ease. It will be important to get off a good start. I think we can do a good race and to be honest, my goal is to finish in the Top 8”.
15th – Scott Redding – 1’50.048
“It has been a positive day. I am very happy with how things went in FP3. The feeling with the bike was really good since the start and this was the most important goal to achieve today. I started well even in FP4 with wet conditions, then I felt some problems on the rear. I tried to do my best in Q1 but the conditions were really difficult. All things considered I’m confident for the racei”.
Fifth and sixth row starts for Ducati Team riders in Argentina GP: Dovizioso 13th and Lorenzo 16th in qualifying at Termas de Río Hondo
Dark clouds greeted the MotoGP riders this morning at the Termas de Río Hondo circuit and the rain began to fall shortly before the start of the FP3 session. As a result, the two Ducati Team riders did not have a chance to improve their times from yesterday and had to take part in Q1 early in the afternoon. Dovizioso immediately set an excellent time, but he was passed by Rossi and then Pedrosa in the final seconds of the session and finished third, missing out on access to Q2 by just a fraction. The Italian rider will start tomorrow’s race from the fifth row of the grid in thirteenth place, while Jorge Lorenzo, sixth in Q1, will start from row 6 three places behind his team-mate.
The Argentina GP is scheduled to get underway tomorrow at 4 pm local time (21.00 CET).
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’49.488 (13th)
“Unfortunately this morning I wasn’t able to complete the FP3 session because it began to rain and so in the end I didn’t get into the top 10. In Q1, despite having set a good time, I ended up in third place in the final seconds of the session and it was a real pity because I’m sure that in Q2 we could have obtained a good position on the grid, which is very important here. If that’s the way it went, then it means that we still have to improve a lot of things, but even though I’m starting down the grid, I think we have every possibility of moving up and doing a good race.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 1’50.310 (16th)
“It was a pity about today’s rain, because I’m sure we could have improved our position in dry conditions a lot. Unfortunately in both FP3 and Q1 we couldn’t take advantage of the improvements that we found with a new riding position on the bike, even though I know I still need time to get used to it. Tomorrow however it should be dry and let’s see if I can manage to put in a better performance in the race than I did in practice.”
APRILIA IMPROVES IN THE ARGENTINIAN QUALIFYING TOO
EXCELLENT DAY FOR ALEIX ESPARGARÓ WHO RIDES HIS RS-GP TO THE THIRD ROW
The Argentinian 2017 MotoGP weekend continues according to predictions. In fact, the foul weather forecast punctually conditioned the sessions today. Although it was not a violent storm, the riders were still able to use the wet tyres both in FP4 and in qualifying.
A first for Aleix Espargaró, who had not yet ridden his RS-GP in the rain. The results were rather encouraging. The Spanish rider, who went straight through to Q2 thanks to his performance yesterday, had an outstanding qualifying session, taking a spot on the third row (eighth place, 1’49.323). This is a placement that ties the one achieved by the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini last year at Phillip Island.
Sam Lowes continues to improve, shaving time off his best for this track in FP3 by more than half a second. In Q1, on the other hand, a sliding crash on the first turn kept the English rookie from launching a final assault for a good spot on the grid. Sam will therefore start from the eighth row with the 22nd best time.
“In just two weekends we have already improved on the best race result and tied the best qualifying result for the RS-GP and that makes me proud. I would actually have preferred dry sessions because we have a lot of things to test for the race. In any case, we were able to stay very close to the leaders compared with Qatar in conditions that I had never before encountered with Aprilia. Tomorrow will be a very particular race. My goal is to start well and manage during the first laps to then exploit our potential over race distance. Compared with Qatar, given our starting position, I definitely expect to have to do a bit less overtaking!”
“We can be positive today. In FP3 I did a good run at the beginning before it started to rain and we verified that we can be competitive with the riders ahead of us in the race. After a few good laps in qualifying I was trying to push toward the end, but I went wide on the first corner and then lost the front. We still have some room to improve and we’ll try to do that in warmup, which I hope will be dry, as well as the race.”
Position: 6th – Time: 1’49.218 – Laps: 7