Marquez claims Argentina Pole – Miller P5 on grid
Five out of six makes good reading for Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) as the reigning Champion took a fifth pole at Termas de Rio Hondo on Saturday, setting himself up for a charge at another victory at the track.
Marc Marquez saying, “In Qualifying I was really focused to push to the maximum and fight for pole position. On the second tyre I made a small mistake at the first corner so I cancelled the lap and went back in. We had planned to do three runs and my team was ready. I am happy because it’s never easy to get pole position here, especially this weekend. Our rhythm is there but we need to wait and see what the weather does!”
But there’s more than a couple of riders well within the number 93’s postcode, with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) just 0.164 back in P2 and Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) only another 0.010 further off – a tantalising prospect for lights out at Round 2.
Maverick Viñales saying, “If you told me on Friday this was going to happen, I would have said ‘No’. Yesterday, we were a bit lost, we struggled a lot, but we worked really hard. Every session we improved the bike. There’s still room for improvement, so we keep working. We need our work to pay off. We need to start well, be at the front in the first laps, and I’m going to try to ride aggressively in the first laps. Let’s see where that takes us. I’m going to try my best. I think it’s going to be a difficult race, because everyone is very close. We don’t know the race pace yet, but tomorrow we’re going to try to reduce the gap to the front even further.”
Andrea Dovizioso was happy with P3 on the grid, “I’m very happy with our speed here so far, we’ve been competitive in each session and this first row shows it. Over the last few years we had to play defense here in Argentina, but now we have further confirmation that our base has improved. We managed to get progressively closer to Marquez, he is still the man to beat here but he’s not far. There are several riders with a strong pace and weather conditions may change tomorrow, so it was particularly important to start at the front. It’ll be a tough race, but I’m quite confident about our chances to go on the attack.”
It’s not just the front row in the spotlight, however. Plenty of eyes will be on the second row as 2015 Argentina GP winner Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) lines up fourth and directly behind Marquez, with 2018 polesitter and top Independent Team rider Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) keeping the ‘Doctor’ more than a little honest in fifth. From Marquez to Miller the grid is covered by just 0.244.
Jack Miller explaining, “It’s clear there’s some disappointment, especially after seeing my ideal time. I was doing the perfect lap but unfortunately, I lost the rear in the last sector. I’m still happy to be 1st Independent because it’s a result that rewards the team’s work. Race pace is good. I have great confidence for the race”.
The tiny margins continue in sixth and seventh, too. Sophomore Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took P6 and his best ever premier class qualifying position to lock out Row 2, with rookie teammate Fabio Quartararo once again the fastest debutant on the grid and just point blank fast.
The Frenchman was only 0.011 off Morbidelli, and will be hoping to avoid his dramatic start to the Qatar GP. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) took P8 and he’s aiming for the podium having won from P10 on the grid last season, with the British rider joined by teammate and Q1 graduate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) on Row 3.
Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) completes a top ten covered by 0.789 at Termas de Rio Hondo, with Q1 graduate Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) starting from P11. That was after Jorge Lorenzo’s (Repsol Honda Team) fastest lap was cancelled due to exceeding track limits – the five-time World Champion will start from 12th, nevertheless a solid Saturday as he continues both his adaptation to the Honda and his recovery from injury.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) starts P13 ahead of another impressive performance from Red Bull KTM Tech 3 rookie Miguel Oliveira who will likely fancy his chances at some good points, with Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) putting in a solid showing in P15.
A major shock in Q1, however, was 2018 Argentina GP podium finisher Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). The Spaniard’s success at the track last year was his first rostrum in the premier class but in 2019 he’ll line up in P16. Can he mount a comeback from there? Sunday will reveal all…
It’s a good looking grid after qualifying at Termas and the race looks sure to be a stunner. That’s even before we mention the weather that could well mix everything up again…
Argentina MotoGP Top 10 Qualifying
- Marc MARQUEZ SPA Repsol Honda Team 1’38.304
- Maverick VIÑALES SPA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP +0.154
- Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Mission Winnow Ducati +0.164
- Valentino ROSSI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP +0.241
- Jack MILLER AUS Pramac Racing +0.244
- Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT +0.582
- Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Petronas Yamaha SRT +0.593
- Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda CASTROL +0.651
- Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU +0.734
- Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Mission Winnow Ducati +0.789
Moto2: Vierge on pole as just 0.012 covers front row
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’ Xavi Vierge will once again start from pole position at the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina, 12 months on from securing his first pole position and after bettering Johann Zarco’s fastest ever Moto2 lap around Termas de Rio Hondo with a 1:42.726.
It’s blink and you’ll miss the gap though as both Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) got almost too close to comfort with their last laps; Schrötter just 0.011 off and a single thousandth in further arrears.
Vierge’s EG 0,0 Marc VDS teammate Alex Marquez will front row two of the grid thanks to a 1:42.773, making it the top four riders who all bettered Zarco’s previous best ever lap from 2015. Dynavolt Intact GP’s Tom Lüthi is in the middle of the second row, before top KTM Brad Binder who put his Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2™ machine in P6.
After showing strong pace all weekend, Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) will start Sunday’s race from seventh on the grid. The Australian’s Q2 lap was over a tenth slower than the lap that saw him top FP3 earlier in the day. Qatar race winner and Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) is eighth on the grid, joined on row three by compatriot and top rookie Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46).
Rounding out the top ten after ending Q1 quickest, is veteran Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2).
Argentina Moto2 Top 10 Qualifying
- Xavi VIERGE SPA EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1’42.726
- Marcel SCHROTTER GER Dynavolt Intact GP +0.011
- Sam LOWES GBR Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 +0.012
- Alex MARQUEZ SPA EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex +0.047
- Thomas LUTHI SWI Dynavolt Intact GP +0.130
- Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.147
- Remy GARDNER AUS ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team +0.243
- Lorenzo BALDASSARRI ITA Flexbox HP 40 +0.249
- Nicolo BULEGA ITA SKY Racing Team VR46 +0.282
- Simone CORSI ITA Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 +0.335
Moto3: Maiden pole for Masia
Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) will start the Moto3 race at the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina from his first ever pole position after FP1’s fastest man struck back to set the pace on Saturday afternoon. His benchmark 1:48.775 puts him over three tenths clear of Q1 graduate Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) in second, with 2018 polesitter Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) completing the front row in third.
The qualifying session at Termas de Rio Hondo initially saw riders neglecting to set laptimes and that set up a frantic finish; classic Moto3 style. Red sectors lit up the timesheets and after first trailing Canet by 0.002, Masia then pounced soon after to leapfrog his compatriot and set the 1:48.775 – the lap that would ultimately give him his first pole position. Canet remained second, with Arbolino than snatching the final place on the front row on his final flying lap by just 0.007.
The man to lose out and who now heads the second row is Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing). The all-Italian Row 2 is completed by fifth place Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and sixth on the grid, Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai), another rider who came through Q1.
Former Argentina GP winner Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) starts from seventh, with Qatar GP winner Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) and compatriot Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) locked close together in eighth and ninth respectively. Rookie and reigning FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Champion Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) impressed once again to start tenth on his first appearance at Termas.
Less than a second splits the top fifteen in Moto3 qualifying and with the likes of termas podium finisher John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and home hero Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) starting from outside the top ten, we’re set for a stunning lightweight class battle.
Argentina Moto3 Top 10 Qualifying
- Jaume MASIA SPA Bester Capital Dubai 1’48.775
- Aron CANET SPA Sterilgarda Max Racing Team +0.319
- Tony ARBOLINO ITA VNE Snipers +0.347
- Lorenzo DALLA PORTA ITA Leopard Racing +1’49.128 0.353
- Niccolò ANTONELLI ITA SIC58 Squadra Corse +0.385
- Andrea MIGNO ITA Bester Capital Dubai +0.451
- Romano FENATI ITA VNE Snipers +0.480
- Kaito TOBA JPN Honda Team Asia +0.526
- Ayumu SASAKI JPN Petronas Sprinta Racing +0.534
- Raul FERNANDEZ SPA Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team +0.552