Romano Fenati set the fast Moto3 lap of the weekend in the final moments of FP3 Saturday at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina. Fenati is the only Moto3 rider this year to dip into the 1'49s. Brad Binder, who led the session for a time, took second on the timesheet, two-tenths back. And Nicolo Bulega set his best time of the weekend for third fastest.
One statistic captured the state of play in Argentina after the first day of practice. Of the eighty-three (83!) Grand Prix riders who took to the track on Friday, just a single rider failed to improve their time from FP1 to FP2. That rider was Tatsuki Suzuki, and the reason he did not manage to improve his time was because he crashed early in the session, leaving himself too little time to go faster.
Why is this remarkable? Normally, there would be somewhere between four and eight riders who do not manage to improve their time between sessions on Friday. At Mugello in 2015, for example, there were six in MotoGP, five in Moto2, and eleven in Moto3, a grand total of twenty-two, and broadly representative of a normal race weekend. The fact that almost everyone managed to go faster illustrated the problem with the track perfectly.
The problem? The track is filthy, to put it simply. As a result of a lack of use, the dust and dirt which settles on any uncovered surface just settles into the asphalt, and is never swept from the track. With no bikes or cars circulating regularly, the track remains green, its virgin surface unsullied by the dark rubber of motorized monsters. No vehicles on track means no grip.
Enea Bastianini kept his place at the top of the timesheet Friday during FP2 as the racing line cleaned up and lap times dropped to the prior year's levels. Bastianini's 1'51.137 put him one-tenth clear of Romano Fenati (2nd). Andrea Migno (3rd) found himself in rare company with a third-fastest showing just in front of Brad Binder (4th) and Jorge Navarro (5th).
Qatar race-winner Niccolo Antonelli could climb no higher than 11th at the session's end. Weather could play a role in Saturday's practice and qualifying with both rain and high tempertures predicted.
Enea Bastianini led the first practice at the Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina Friday in dirty track conditions that were less than ideal for the riders. While Bastianini's time of 1.52'467 was three-tenths of a second clear of second-fastest Livio Loi, the time was nearly a full second off the top FP1 time from last year's contest.
The War on Wings continues. At Qatar, the Grand Prix Commission agreed to ban winglets in the Moto2 and Moto3. The aerodynamic devices are banned immediately in Moto2, while they will be banned in Moto3 from 2017, as Mahindra have already fitted small winglets to their Moto3 machine to be used at some races this season. However, the ban on winglets for 2017 should stop development of them immediately.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 classes after the opening races of the season at Qatar:
Zarco score points in penalty-filled Moto2 opener
Ajo Motorsport rider finishes Grand Prix of Qatar twelfth, after being penalised with a ride-through penalty for jumping the start.
03/20/2016 - Losail International Circuit, Qatar
May you live in interesting times, runs an apocryphal Chinese curse. The first Grand Prix of 2016 certainly provided us with plenty of events which might be termed interesting, in both the common sense of the word and the apocryphal curse. The three races at Qatar were thrilling, tense, intriguing, and mind-bogglingly bizarre.
Results and summary of the Moto3 race at Qatar:
Niccolo Antonelli has won the first race of the 2016 season, just pulling out of the slipstream of Brad Binder to steal victory by just seven thousandths of a second.