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Front Row for Espargaro & Team Suzuki Ecstar

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Team Suzuki Press Office – April 18th  In only its third race since Suzuki’s return to MotoGP, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaro has put the GSX-RR on the front row of the MotoGP™ grid.

The Spaniard has been in the lead positions for the whole weekend in Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina and finally exploited his good feelings to finalise a 1’38.316s lap-time that gives him second place on the grid for tomorrow’s race. This is an historical result for Suzuki and Espargaro’s front-row rewards the huge job made at Hamamatsu in Japan during the last three years to deliver a top-performing machine and the time spent setting-up a competitive team by Suzuki Motor Corporation.

Espargaro’s team-mate Maverick Viñales also had a positive qualifying, whose feeling with both the team and the GSX-RR is constantly improving: so-much-so he scored a 1’39.187s lap-time, which gives him third row on the grid. The young rookie has constantly improved his lap-times throughout the weekend, better understanding how to use his tyres and get to a final set-up for the race.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“We are very happy for Aleix’s result, it’s great to be on the front row since it is only our third race since our comeback and we must be proud of this. I want to thank all the guys in the crew; this is a brand-new team that started from zero this year, as well as all the people in Japan who worked hard over the past three years to allow us to be here. I’d like to think that this result is a stimulus to continue, being aware that we have a lot of good potential in both our riders and our bikes, so we can still improve a lot.

“We are happy for Maverick’s ninth place as well, of course. He has constantly improved during the first three races: he made direct access to Q2 today, then the third row! For sure he is improving and little-by-little his potential is coming out.

“Of course we know that tomorrow’s race will be very hard, we still don’t know how our hard tyres will behave compared to competitors’ extra-hard during the course of the race, but we have a very effective bike and good riders so we will see what will happen. For the moment we will enjoy the day today and tomorrow we will see.”

Aleix Espargaro:

“It’s great to be on the front row! I did also try to attack pole position but today Marc did a sensational lap. However second place is what we needed to give us the best of chances. This front row is a good result also for all the team, including my technicians, engineers and also the people in Japan. This is an ‘energy refill’ for everybody. I’m aware that the race tomorrow will be very hard, when the rear tyre gets worn – we will have a lot of chattering, but since we don’t have the extra-hard compound we will do the best to finalise a proper set-up and try to be fighting with the top riders until the end. I’m happy for this second place; tomorrow I will try to exploit it in the best possible way and stay as close as possible to the top and gain as many points as possible for the championship.”

Maverick Viñales:

“The third row is a good result for me; it shows that I’m improving day-by-day and race-after-race. I still miss the proper feeling with the soft tyre so I couldn’t make the best of the best lap for qualifying, but this also means that we have room for improvements. We are working step-by-step, still learning how to better interpret the lines and I hope we will continue to improve just like we have so far. The race will be hard, we still lack some details to finalise the perfect set-up and tyre choice so we will work again tonight with the data and tomorrow in the warm-up, but my overall feeling is good, so I am confident.”

GP of Argentina – Qualifying:

1. Marc MARQUEZ, Repsol Honda Team – 1’37.802
2. Aleix ESPARGARO, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’38.316 +0.514
3. Andrea IANNONE, Ducati Team – 1’38.467 +0.665
4. Cal CRUTCHLOW, CWM LCR Honda – 1’38.485 +0.683
5. Jorge LORENZO, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1’38.485 +0.683
6. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Ducati Team – 1’38.520 +0.718
7. Danilo PETRUCCI, Pramac Racing – 1’38.786 +0.984
8. Valentino ROSSI, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1’38.890 +1.088
9. Maverick VIÑALES, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’39.187 +1.385
10. Bradley SMITH, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 1’39.197 +1.395