Argentine qualifying sees Maverick Viñales line up 7th, Aleix Espargaro 11th
After transferring directly to Q2, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró finally qualified respectively in 7th and 11th places for tomorrow’s race at the GP of Argentina.
The morning session saw both riders very competitive again on the tricky track of Termas de Rio Hondo, improving their lap-times and GSX-RR set-ups, being consistently in the top-10; and finally getting the Q2 direct access, thanks to the 1’40.796 for Viñales and 1’40.893 for Espargaró.
Qualifying was a little harder for the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders, as they struggled to find the same competitiveness as earlier. Viñales didn’t feel totally comfortable and therefore not able to perform as well as he did in previous sessions. But his best lap of 1’40.375 puts him on the third-row of the grid.
The positive improvements done by Espargaró throughout the weekend allowed him to find a good set-up to be faster than his 11th place, but the feeling with his machine is solid and the fourth row, where he will start from, will allow him to recover and get closer to the top.
Tomorrow’s plan will be changed with an additional warm-up session at the beginning of the day. Following an accident occurred with British rider Scott Redding, for safety reasons, Michelin decided to retire all the rear tyres actually deployed to the teams and to supply, for tomorrow, four tyres with a different structure and compound. These new tyres have been tested by none of the MotoGP™ riders, which makes the day interesting.
“The qualifying result is for sure not what we were expecting from this morning: In the afternoon I couldn’t feel confident with the set-up and this prevented me getting onto the first or second row, which in my opinion was possible. On the other hand I must recognise that if we don’t feel ok at all and indeed we are seventh, it’s not a bad result. The place on the grid is not so bad, as it is close to the top and allows a recovery, therefore if we manage to find a better set-up and find back my confidence, I’m sure we can still have a good race, as I feel good with the pace. I’m a little disappointed by the fact that in Qatar we were so fast to adapt and find efficiency, while here we are having more issues. Anyway, my team is doing a very good job, we can for sure improve and be faster, so I’m confident we can have a good race. The track conditions this year are very tricky, it is so hard to find the grip and anywhere outside the line is very slippery. This requires very wise riding and being aware of this we will have to find a perfect set-up to be effective on the line.”
“We have made a good step forward since Qatar and this leaves me very positive; I feel more confident with the bike and even though we are not close enough to fight for the Pole we are getting closer. On my side we have to work some more on the set-up to find even more confidence with the front and finalise a good set-up for the race. Eleventh place is not where I aim to be, but for the moment, it’s a good place and I believe I can recover some positions if I manage a good start and keep the touch with the front group.”