The inaugural Grand Prix of Argentina got underway today as the MotoGP paddock took its first official practice sessions on the Termas de Río Hondo Circuit.
Yet again tyre wear proved to be the biggest challenge of the day as both , P riders experienced issues with the rear tyre on the new circuit.
Jorge Lorenzo was the fastest man in the first ever session in the morning, leading FP1 by nearly half a second with a fastest time of 1’42.804. Teammate Valentino Rossi was slower to find his pace on the track, ending the morning session in tenth with a 1’44.502.
The afternoon saw big improvements from both, nine-time champion Rossi making the biggest step to finish in eighth with a fastest time of 1’41.395. Double MotoGP champion Lorenzo was just behind him in ninth with a 1’41.533.
The team will now work to improve the set up for both to overcome the rear tyre wear issues that proved to be the major issue of the day.
Bradley Smith enjoyed a fantastic start today finishing as the leading Yamaha in 6th as he continued to demonstrate his determination for this season, and how much of a quick learner his is. The British rider easily accustomed himself to the challenging circuit and established a solid working base setup. The 23 year-old also explored both varieties of tyre compounds, at the new fast flowing track which features a straight of over 1 kilometre. He notched up a top time of 1:41.303 at the final stages of this afternoons session, which puts him in a good position to show another strong qualifying performance tomorrow while preparing for Sunday’s race which lasts 25 laps.
Rookie Pol Espargaro completed today with impressive speed, as he rode to 7th position in the combined times. With the fast, wavering corners of the circuit favouring the agile Yamaha YZR-M1, the Spanish rider notably spent the majority of both of todays free practice sessions within the top five, and proceeded to gather as much information as possible at the 4,806 metre track for qualifying tomorrow. The reigning Moto2 World Champion improved his FP1 time by two and a half seconds to finish with a best lap of 1:41.368, ahead of multiple World Champions Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
As the Argentina Grand Prix weekend got underway, Alex Espargaro demonstrated his ability to go quickly at unfamiliar venues, recording the third fastest time with a lap time of 1’40.566.
Despite an engine problem during FP1 that spoiled his session, the Spaniard of the NGM Forward Racing Team could work well in the afternoon, learning quickly the lines of the new circuit and finishing as first Open and third overall behind the two factory Honda of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Team mate Colin Edwards also worked hard to learn his way around the new Termas de Rio Hondo track. The Texas Tornado finished in 14th position with a lap time of 1’42.608. Colin struggled a bit this morning for a tyre issue, but he was able to improve in the afternoon.
“A difficult day here in Argentina at the new track. The conditions are not fantastic and we are struggling very much with the tyres, especially the rear. In the afternoon it became a bit better and we worked well with the bike but we still haven’t found the right balance so we have to work to make it better. We have to concentrate on making the tyre work harder as after a few laps the rear slides a lot. We hope the conditions of the track improve but we will also work to improve the setting of the bike for tomorrow.”
“We are having problems with the tyres because there is a lot of graining and the tyres only have a good performance for six or seven laps. In the morning I was the last one to put a tyre in so I had a better grip at the end of the practice, that’s why I was first. In the afternoon I was the opposite: I stayed with the old tyre at the end of the session when everyone had a new one; that’s why our position was not so good. I think our real position is in the top five today. If we can make the tyres last we will have an advantage.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“We started well this morning and both Jorge and Vale were clearly comfortable learning their way around a new circuit. As the pace began to drop in the afternoon we were able to identify where we need to improve, so we now have some work to do with the data gathered to start to close the gap to the front. In particular the tyres are potentially an issue so we will work to adapt our set up to deal with this. I’m confident we can make some steps tomorrow to improve our pace.”
“In general, I am happy with the first day of practice here in Argentina, especially as I finished as the leading Yamaha. The circuit is as nice as it seemed to be and it was not different from my expectations, with my favourite part being the last corner. It feels like riding Supermotard back at Colin’s Ranch, it’s just amazing! The main point of today was to learn the circuit, and to establish a base setup which we achieved, and I feel confident with. I am still not sure on the choice of tyre, but tomorrow I will ride on both varieties in order to decide which one to use when the track surface will be cleaner. We will continue to look at modifying the setup in tomorrows session, as we need to improve the race pace a bit more. However, I’m confident that we are in a good position to qualify well and fight for a strong result on race day”.
“Today was positive for me, and my impressions of the new circuit here in Argentina were good – it’s different to the other tracks we visit, which makes it more entertaining to ride.The layout is really nice, it is technical with long, fast and blind corners. My favourite part is probably T4 where you have to change direction quickly, and also the last corner. Actually, my pace in this sector was also strong, but I have to improve the first one where I was losing time and we will work to develop this area tonight. Another aspect where we still have some margin to refine is the front setup of the bike, but the feelings are positive especially because I have been competitive straight away this morning.
“I’m happy to be back on track after Austin, where we had several issues with the rear tyre. I’m satisfied with today’s result, I was able to ride as I wanted and show the potential of the bike. During the FP1 I had an engine problem, but the team did a great job and I could ride again with the first bike in the FP2. It’s only the first day and it was important to learn the new track. We will keep on working, aiming at repeating the strong performance we had in Qatar.”
“All in all it was a good day, even if I struggled a bit with the tyres this morning. In the FP2 we changed some electronic setting and the feeling improved. I’m sure that we can make another step forward tomorrow. I’m learning the new track and I look forward to get a good result.”
2014 MotoGP Argentina
Termas de Rio Hondo 25/04/2014
1 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 1’39.313
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’40.396
3 Aleix Espargaro Forward Yamaha ESP 1’40.566
4 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 1’40.891
5 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 1’41.042
6 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 1’41.303
7 Pol Espargaro Yamaha ESP 1’41.368
8 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’41.395
9 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’41.533
10 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 1’41.924
11 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 1’42.029
12 Yonny Hernandez Ducati COL 1’42.128
13 Karel Abraham Honda CZE 1’42.348
14 Colin Edwards Forward Yamaha USA 1’42.608
15 Nicky Hayden Honda USA 1’42.621