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.
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.
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.
Press releases previewing the Termas De Rio Hondo round from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
Oliveira and Binder eye repeat of Argentinian successes
The Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 riders aim to take their first podium finishes of the season this weekend, at a track where they have previous rostrum experience.
04/04/2018 - Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit, Argentina
From Qatar, the MotoGP circus heads west. A very long way west, out towards the western edge of the Argentine pampas, and Termas de Rio Hondo (a fun game for fans to play is to check every article written by MotoGP journalists and see how many times they have spelled Termas de Rio Hondo with an A on the end instead of an O). The Argentinian round of MotoGP is crucial to Dorna, giving it a foothold in South America, a key market for the manufacturers, and a region in love with motorsports.
Ideally, a Grand Prix in Argentina – or Brazil, or Chile, or Peru, or Colombia – would be held at a track near one of the great cities of the region. But the tracks build near Buenos Aires (or Rio de Janiero or Sao Paulo in Brazil) are all relics from a previous era, when rider safety was not the paramount concern it is today. So instead, MotoGP heads to the middle of nowhere, fortunately, to one of the fastest and finest tracks on the calendar. It is, by all accounts, a wild affair, though it is not a place I have visited myself. But from what I have been told, it is a memorable event to attend.
MotoMatters.com Travel Guide Rating:
You might call that a good start to the new season. There were four races held on Sunday at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar: three Grand Prix classes and race two of the Asia Talent Cup. All four would become titanic battles between riders, ending in searing duels to the line. Three of the four would be decided by less than three hundredths of a second. The fourth – Moto2 – would be decided by just over a tenth. The combined winning margin for MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3 is just 0.162 seconds. Add in the Asia Talent Cup, and that takes the grand total to 0.175 seconds.
It seems fair to say we were treated to some insanely close races at Qatar. In Moto2 and Moto3, three riders broke away to contest victory among themselves. In both classes, an incident – a crash in Moto3, a technical problem with the rear brake in Moto2 – saw the trio whittled down to a duo, the race going all the way to the line.
The MotoGP race was even tighter, the closest finishing group ever at Qatar, with first place separated from seventh place by just 4.621 seconds, and from eighth by 7.112. The top three finished within a second, the top two by 0.027 seconds – a numerologically pleasing gap, given the race-winning machine.
This was the closest race in MotoGP that I can remember. The leaders streaked across the line to complete 22 laps on Sunday night, and on 11 of those laps, the gap between first and second was less than a tenth of a second. On another seven laps, the gap was between one and two tenths. On the remaining four laps, the gap was always under three tenths.
Moto3 standings after Qatar:
Results and summary of the Moto3 race at Losail: