#ArgentinaGP Day one roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
1st and 2nd in Practice 1, 1st and 2nd in Practice 2 – it doesn’t get any better than that for Aprilia Racing as Day 1 at the Gran Premio Michelin® de la República Argentina belonged to the Noale factory. Ending Friday on top was Aleix Espargaroafter the 2022 Termas race winner got the better of teammate and P1 pacesetter Maverick Viñales in the afternoon, while Portuguese GP podium finisher Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) claimed P3 just ahead of teammate Luca Marini.
Reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) ended the day in sixth and may be glad the fight for an automatic place in Q2 is already over, but his predecessor Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) likely wished for another shot at it. El Diablo ends Day 1 in P14, with teammate Franco Morbidelliup in ninth and moving through.
With rain threatening to disrupt proceedings in Termas de Rio Hondo, the final 10 minutes of P1 were hectic as riders chased that all-important top 10. A late lap from Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) placed the Japanese star in 4th, with Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) going well again in 5th.
World Championship leader Bagnaia squeezed into the top 10 in P10, but Quartararo was already struggling even more ahead of the afternoon final shootout.
There was one crash to report – Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) tucked the front of his RC213V at Turn 1. The Spaniard was perfectly ok.
The rush for Q2
It wasn’t until the final 20 minutes that plenty of movement lit up the timesheets in Practice 2, as Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) pounced to demote Viñales to second after the latter produced a dominant performance in Practice 1. On his second flying lap, Martin moved the goalposts further as his 1:39.092 became the time to beat, and Nakagami climbed to P3.
With all eyes focused on grabbing a top 10 spot ahead of Saturday morning’s qualifying, Practice 2 lit up. Aleix Espargaro set a new benchmark as Viñales slotted into P2, 0.009s off his teammate, before Bagnaia then went top of the pile with a 1:38.969. Then, Viñales was back at the summit – but not for long. Bezzecchi was now the pacesetter, with teammate Marini taking over as third fastest.
With 10 minutes to go, Quartararo was in P13 and 0.9s off the top. By three minutes to go, he was still outside the cut off. In contrast, Viñales found an extra dose of pace and went back to the top, but his stablemate made sure that didn’t last long. Aleix Espargaro set a 1:38.518 to beat Viñales by 0.162s. Quartararo still remained outside the top 10 with seconds to go, and that’s where he stayed.
Behind the top three, Marini bounced back from a difficult opening weekend with a solid Friday P4 in Termas de Rio Hondo, with Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) rounding out the top five. Reigning World Champion Bagnaia settled for P6, 0.4s off Espargaro, with Martin, Nakagami, an upbeat Morbidelli and Rins acting as the final automatic entrants to Q2 on Saturday morning in P7, P8, P9 and P10 respectively.
Alongside Rins’ Turn 1 crash in Practice 1, reigning Moto2™ World Champion Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) was unhurt in a Practice 2 Turn 1 crash.
Some big hitters will be battling it out in Q1, including 2020 World Champion Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo Brad Binder and Jack Miller, Alex Marquez, and Quartararo. Don’t miss qualifying on Saturday morning, it’s going to be a barnstormer.
It’s tight at the top after Day 1 for Moto2™, with Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) quickest off the mark but the Italian enjoying close company from both Filip Salač (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2™), 0.066 in arrears, and Portuguese GP winner Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) at a deficit of just 0.080.
It stayed close from there on out, too. Jake Dixon (GASGAS Aspar Moto2™) was 0.121 off the top, and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) just 0.005 off the Brit. Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40), Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools Speed Up) are tightly packed just behind them, with Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) and Alonso Lopez(Beta Tools Speed Up) completing the top ten.
Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) topped the timesheets on Friday in Moto3™, the Japanese rider 0.186 clear of Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI). Moreira, fresh from taking his first Grand Prix podium and the first for Brazil in the lightweight class, was less than half a tenth clear of veteran campaigner Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) in third.
The top three had a small advantage by the end of play, with Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) in fourth but three and a half tenths off his teammate. Suzuki also had a couple of tenths in hand over Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) as the Italian headed a closer gaggle completing the top ten: Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold Snipers Team), Kaito Toba (SIC58 Squadra Corse), David Alonso (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Moto3™), Scott Ogden (VisionTrack Racing Team) and Portuguese GP winner Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3). So close that Dutch rookie Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) missed out on that top ten by just 0.002.