April 17th, 2015
Johann Zarco climbed back to the top of the perch just ahead of Sam Lowes by a six-hundredths of a second at the Termas do Rio Hondo circuit Friday. Zarco's 1'43.239 puts him two seconds faster than his FP2 time from 2014. Sam Lowes, winner last week in Austin, came in a tenth back.
Mika Kallio, who was slightly off the pace at COTA and again in Argentina in FP1, appears to found some addiitonal pace for FP2 and finished just a tenth off Zarco's pace. Points leader and Moto2 rookie Alex Rins came in 10th, six-tenths back.
Aleix Espargaro shocked the field with a 1'38.776 lap to lead the second practice at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit Friday in Argentina. Espargaro's time pushed the Spanish rider more than half of a second clear of second place and put Suzuki on top of the timesheet for the second practice in a row.
Suzuki, which this year retured to MotoGP after a three-year absence from motorcycle road racing's top class, has not led two MotoGP practices since former MotoGP rider John Hopkins topped FP2 and FP3 in China in 2007 (according to MotoMatters.com Netherlands-based analytics department). With the strong, top-10 showing by the two-bike team in Austin last week, development of the new GSX-RR appears to be ahead of schedule.
Andrea Iannone put in a late fast lap to take second from World Champion Marc Marquez (3rd). Cal Crutchlow also put in his quick lap near the session's end to grab fourth. Andrea Dovisioso completed the top five, slightly more than six-tenths slower that Espargaro's Suzuki. Yamaha factory riders remained off the pace with Jorge Lorenzo in seventh and Valentino Rossi in ninth.
Danny Kent reminded the field of his dominance at last week's Texas race with a practice lap that put him four-tenths of a second clear of the pack in Argentina. Kent's 1'49.154 just barely ecliped Jack Miller's pole position time from last year. Livio Loi and Karel Hanika claimed second and third with identical times but Loi getting the second place nod based on a faster second-fastest lap.
Last week's second place finisher, 15-year-old Fabio Quartararo, ended the session in sixth, just behind Enea Bastianini (4th) and Miguel Oliveira (5th). The weather appeared to slightly worsen with scattered sprinkles in the warm weather at the Termas Rio Hondo track.
Chaz Davies, fresh from the Ducati's inaugural victory last weekend, records the quickest lap, ahead of the Kawasakis of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea.
The morning's quickest three riders remain the quickest, with Jules Cluzel and Kenan Sofuoglu beating out PJ Jacobsen.
With four minutes left in the first Moto2 free practice Friday, Jonas Folger set the quickest-ever Moto2 lap at the Termas de Rio Hondo track in Argentina. Folger, the race winner in Qatar, clocked a 1'43.816 to beat last year's pole time (set by Tito Rabat) by nearly a tenth of a second. Rabat -- second in the first free practice this year -- managed to close within two-tenths of Folger but could not equal his own top time from 2014. Lorenzo Baldassarri took a leap forward with the third-best showing in FP1.
And where was Sam Lowes? The dominant rider at last week's Austin contest spent much of FP1 at the top of the timesheet. But Folger's late session run (among others) saw him drop into seventh, behind Franco Morbidelli (4th), Thomas Luthi (5th) and Johann Zarco, the second-place finisher in Austin.
Times in all classes, especially MotoGP, are expected to continue to drop as the racing line cleans up at the track which first saw MotoGP racing in 2014.
Aleix Espargaro, taking advantage of a slow initial session, put his factory Suzuki at the top of the timesheet at the first Motogp free practice at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina. Espargaro's 1'40.806 put him half a second clear of the field on the dusty track. The pair of factor Ducati Andreas -- Inannone (3rd) and Dovizioso (4th) -- rounded out the top three.
But here's where the leaderboard gets a bit odd: Riders four through six include Yonny Hernandez, Scott Redding and Nicky Hayden, all of whom appeeared more willing to push their bikes while the factory Hondas and Yamahas used the first session to establish a clean racing line on the dusty track. World Champion Marc Marquez finished in 10th while the Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo completed the session in 14th and 20th respectively.
Despite the session's slightly more moderate pace -- at least among some of the top riders -- Espargaro's 1'40 is nearly two seconds faster than last year's FP1 at the new track located 1000 km from Buenos Aires. Last year's race was the first for the 4.8 km (3 mi.) track.
Noccolo Antonelli, who finished near last at week's race in Austin, set the tone early Friday in the first free practice at the Termas de Rio Hondo track in Argentina with the top top spot under a cloudy sky. Antonell's 1'51.523 put him one-tenth of a second faster than Danny Kent, last week's winner. Isaac Vinales ended the session nearly two-tenths shy of the top spot.
As he did in Texas, Kent led most of the session. But Antonelli, who was quick in Texas early in the race, managed a late, fast lap at the session's end. The start of practice was slightly delayed to clean the 4.8 km (3 mi.) circuit.
Tom Sykes leads, with only Michael van der Mark and Chaz Davies within a second of his quickest lap.
Jules Cluzel and Kenan Sofuoglu lead the way, with PJ Jacobsen close behind.
2015 Argentina MotoGP Preview: Of Price Gouging, Ducati's Tire Disadvantage, And A Tough Moto3 Battle
From Austin, MotoGP heads south, to the most expensive GP of the season. The Termas de Rio Hondo circuit lies in one of the poorest regions of Argentina, but the economic reality is not reflected in the prices around the Grand Prix weekend. The cost of renting a compact car from one of the nearby airports would get you a luxury vehicle at any other place. Room rate cards for even the most modest hotel look like they have been borrowed from Claridges for the week. Local businesses appear bent on extracting as much revenue as possible from the poor souls who have no choice but to attend, such as journalists, team staff and riders. Those (such as your humble correspondent) without a wealthy employer to cover the costs for them stay away. Many teams stay up to a couple of hours away, where accommodation prices drop from the truly extortionate to the merely pricey. For much of the paddock, the Termas de Rio Hondo GP is a black hole, capable of swallowing money at an exponential rate.
Yet fans from around the region flock to the circuit. They are much smarter indeed, many bringing tents, vans, RVs, or even just sleeping bags in the back of their trucks. The money saved on accommodation is well spent: the party around the circuit is stupendous, massive amounts of meat and drink being shared around all weekend. That adds real local flavor to the event, the passion of the fans being evident at every turn.
Bradley Smith summed the whole experience up rather succinctly. "I don't think anyone enjoys coming down to Argentina. It costs a lot of money for a lot of people. There always seems to be more hassle than positives from the logistical side," Smith said. "But in terms of the track, once we're out on track, it's an awesome track and they've done a great job here. The night atmosphere, the fact that the fans are so passionate, so it's a trade off. If we sit here on Wednesday and Thursday, we don't like the place, but once we get into the weekend, it's OK."
It may cost a fortune to get there, but the track itself is worth it. Fast, sweeping, with a good variety of fast and slow corners. The nature of the track is reflected in the tires: Bridgestone are having to bring an extra hard rear tire to the circuit, to cope with the extreme loads placed on the tire. There are long corners, and corners where a lot of braking has to be done while still heeled over. They all take their toll, as we learned last year.
Press release previews from the organizers and some of the teams ahead of this weekend's round of World Superbikes. Includes Pata Honda documentary of Michael van der Mark:
Bridgestone issued their customary post-race press release discussing how their tires fared at last weekend's race in Austin, Texas:
Americas MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Wednesday 15 April 2015
Bridgestone slick compounds: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Soft & Hard (Symmetric) & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Marc Marquez won his third consecutive race at Circuit of the Americas last weekend, the Repsol Honda star taking the chequered flag ahead of Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi.
The race weekend was subjected to variable weather with cool, rainy periods giving way to warm and sunny weather on Sunday. The peak track temperature of 40°C during was the warmest reading for the whole weekend.
Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
On Friday the MotoGP riders had their first ever wet session at Circuit of the Americas. What can you tell us about the grip level of the circuit in the wet, and how your wet tyres performed?
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
122 seconds in the life of Marc Márquez
There was quite an admission of guilt from the podium trio at Austin on Sunday. Not one of the top three – Marc Márquez, Andrea Dovizioso or Valentino Rossi – had ridden the entire race flat-out. They’re not getting lazy or anything, they just knew that Austin’s 20 corners and especially the Turn 3/4/5/6/7/8/9 flip-flops and the never-ending Turn 16/17/18 right-hander chew the hell out of the front tyre. So don’t abuse it or it will abuse you.
All these things considered, Márquez was miraculous on race day. Following overnight rain, the track had lost some grip, so he held back in the early laps while Dovizioso crept ahead at the rate of several tenths a lap. Was Márquez struggling? Was he, hell. He was just getting acquainted with the new grip character and once he knew what he was dealing with, he surged forward and that was that. Another brilliant win, his 20th in the premier class, which puts him equal with his forefather Freddie Spencer.
But I won’t remember the weekend for Sunday’s 43-minute race. Much more memorable was what happened on Saturday afternoon.