It took exactly six-tenths of a second for Marc Marquez to explain to the field who is the favorite on Sunday come rain or shine. The reigning world champion dropped into the 1'48s and gapped the field by more than half a second during Saturday's FP3 at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina.
Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina
Remy Gardner took advantage of the wet circuit to dominate the third Moto2 practice at the Termas de Rio Hondo track in Argentina. Gardner, seemingly at ease with the slippery conditions, led near the entire Saturday session. Lorenzo Baldassarri managed to close within a tenth to take second as intermittent rain fell on the 4.8 km track.
Honda's Fabio Di Giannantonio took advantage of a wet track to grab the top spot in FP3 as rain slowed riders the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit Saturday in Argentina. Di Giannantonio's 2'00.315 was ten seconds off Enea Bastianini's top FP2 lap. Bastianini, however, has found speed in the wet or dry claiming the second-fastest time in the third Moto3 practice.
We expected practice at Termas De Rio Hondo to be dominated by the weather, and we were right, though not in the way we expected. Rain had been forecast for all of Friday, but it largely held off except for the odd wayward shower which caused more of a nuisance than any real disruption. But a combination of a dirty track and strong and gusty winds made conditions difficult at the Argentinian round of MotoGP. It turned the field on its head: Andrea Dovizioso, the man who had won the previous race at Qatar, finished FP2 as 24th and last on Friday in Argentina.
The track played a big part in making life difficult for the riders (or more accurately, everyone not called Marc Márquez). The resurfacing had been a major improvement, removing the worst of the bumps, but the new surface didn't really have any extra grip, the riders said. "It's positive about the bumps," Andrea Dovizioso said. "Apart from Turn 4 all the other corners are much better, almost perfect. The grip is not good like the old one, maybe it's worse, maybe it's too new, I don't know when they did."
Valentino Rossi agreed. "The new surface is a bit better because we have less bumps," the Italian said. "I think Michelin was a bit worried about the level of grip because they bring more tires. At the end the level of grip of the new asphalt is the same as the level of grip with the old asphalt." The real problem was the track still being dirty, and not being rubbered in, Marc Márquez explained. "It's good. In terms of grip, very very similar the new and old, you cannot feel the difference, because there is no rubber, it's just dirty. But it's so good about the bumps. Last year it was at the limit, quite dangerous with big bumps, but this year it's completely flat," the Spaniard told reporters.
Reigning world champion Marc Marquez took full advantage of the first stable weather of the day to set a blistering 1'39.395 to top the time sheet and nearly reach the lap record at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina. Marquez's fast lap, set with four minutes left in Friday's FP2, was three-tenths off the circuit record set in 2015 by Valentino Rossi.
Alex Marquez jumped to the top of the sheet early in the session, finishing both in front of the Moto2 pack and the off-and-on rain that effectively ended Friday's FP2 session early. Marquez's 1'44.802 was well off the FP1 top time (set by Mattia Pasini) and even farther from the best Moto2 practice times of 2017.
Enea Bastianini shaved more than two seconds from his FP1 time to grab the top spot in FP2 Friday at Argentina's Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. Bastianini's 1'50.397 remains more than a tenth of a second below Jon Mir's best FP2 time from last year as riders report slippery conditions on the 4.8 km (3 mi.) track.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta, who led the session with two minutes remaining, dropped into second following Bastianini's fast lap. Tony Arbolino took third, only five-hundredths off second-fastest and completing a Honda top three.
Dani Pedrosa saved his best for last with a 1'40.303 as time expired in the first Friday practice at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina. Pedrosa's time was significantly quicker than his previous best laps of the session which overall was well off the dry practice pace from last year.
Mattia Pasini, fourth-place finisher in the season's first race, grabbed the top spot Friday at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina. Pasini spent much of the 40-minute FP1 session in the middle of the top 10 before climbing to the top of the sheet toward the session's end under cloudy but dry conditions.
Marco Bezzecchi, who earned his first-ever podium last year, topped the time sheet for the first practice of the second race of the 2018 season. In mostly dry conditions, the 18-year-old's 1'52.190 put him three-tenths of a second clear of the pack at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit and left him as the only KTM rider in the top seven.