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.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Michelins looking ahead to Argentina:
The Ducati Team arrives in Argentina, at Termas de Río Hondo, for the second round of the MotoGP World Championship
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
It is a good job that the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina is one of the finest on the calendar. Because actually getting there would test the patience of Odysseus. For most of the MotoGP paddock, it is at least a 24-hour journey to get to the track. If everything goes according to plan, that is, which, as any experienced traveler will tell you, things tend not to do.
This year, as usual, a sizable portion of the paddock found themselves taking the better part of two days or more to get to the circuit. Poor weather, a diverted flight, or a missed connection meant that some paddock folk found themselves rerouted via Montevideo in Uruguay. Pol Espargaro got bumped off his overbooked flight to Buenos Aires. Members of the Marc VDS MotoGP team took 48 hours to get to Termas, with team press officer Ian Wheeler the current record holder, taking 50 hours to get from Dublin to the Argentinian track. It took him 28 hours to travel just 500km, an average speed that even I, an overweight, aging journalist manage to exceed while out cycling.
It's worth it once you get there, though. The atmosphere at the track is phenomenal, and the circuit layout is one of the best of the season. The circuit has a bit of everything, and a lot of the thing which racers love: fast, flowing, challenging corners which test rider courage and skill equally. Though there is no real elevation change, the circuit has enough dips and crests to require precision in braking.
After a poor start, which saw him drop from ninth on the grid to thirteenth at the end of the first lap, Jorge Lorenzo was making steady progress through the field at Qatar. His lap times were starting to come down to match, and on some laps even beat, the pace the leaders were running. As the halfway mark approached, and less than four seconds behind the leaders, Lorenzo started to believe he was capable of salvaging a decent result from a difficult start.
That all ended on lap 13. The Spaniard crashed out of the race at Turn 4, when his front brake failed and he had to drop the bike in the gravel. "I just felt that the level of the front brake was getting closer to my fingers and I didn’t have brake," Lorenzo described the incident afterwards. "I lost some meters so I tried to use less front brake and more the rear to try to delay this thing that was getting worse lap-by-lap. Unfortunately when into this turn four the first part of the brake was OK, but suddenly I just missed completely this brake so I had no brake and was going very fast through the gravel to the wall and I jumped off the bike to avoid hitting the wall."
What had caused Lorenzo to crash? "The bike came to the box without one part," Lorenzo said. "Some mechanics went to the corner to see if they could find it and luckily they found it – it was very difficult, but they found it. One part was missing from the bike. I don’t know if it was before the crash or after the crash." Both Lorenzo and team boss Davide Tardozzi remained vague about the problem, referring only to "parts" in general, and not specific components. The entire braking system had been handed to Brembo for further examination.
Riders want a more consistent tyre from Michelin, but a faster tyre? That's the last thing MotoGP needs
MotoGP is more unpredictable than it’s ever been, because the grid is more closely matched than ever and because each rider’s tyre choice can make or break his race. This is great for fans.
However, there is one cause of the unpredictability that isn’t so great. In recent months many riders have complained about getting dud tyres from Michelin. Quality control is vital in racing, because, if a rider tries out tyre B and finds it works better for him than tyre A or C, he will fit a B for the race and know exactly what lap times he will be able to run, to within a tenth or two.
But if there is a glitch with the tyre carcass or rubber, his whole race will be thrown out of kilter, like he’s gambled his result on a roulette wheel. This problem isn’t exclusive to MotoGP, it also happens with Dunlop in the lower Grand Prix categories and with Pirelli in World Superbike. And tyres have been failing for as long as people have been racing, all the way back to Brooklands and the Isle of Man TT in the early days of the 20th century.
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:
2017 was a crisis for Honda in WorldSBK, but the future looks much brighter now
If you'd said in November, at the first WorldSBK test of the year, that Honda would have been in the fight for podiums in the early season races you'd have received a lot of puzzled looks. The program struggled through a turbulent 2017 but has come out the other side to an impressive start to the campaign.
In Thailand Leon Camier proved the promise of the season opener in Australia by fighting for the podium. It was a dogged performance by the Englishman, but one that came from realizing the potential of the Fireblade rather than exceeding it.
For Chris Pike, Honda Motor Europe's newly installed Operations Manager for WorldSBK, the early rounds are all about understanding a base level for the team as he settles into his new role. The former engineer has worked in MotoGP, WorldSBK and the Endurance World Championship in recent years and brings with him a vast array of knowledge of skill that he hopes can be translated into his new role.
As many of you will have spotted, this was in fact an April Fool's story. While there is great concern over the state of the rider market and the earliness of when Silly Season commences nowadays, there are no concrete proposals to restrict it in any way, as far as I am currently aware. Despite the fictional nature of this story, the logic behind Dorna wanting to keep things as they are - increased interest in the sport during the off season - is sound. But whether the factories would either be willing or able to restrict negotiations to a set time is open to question. Policing such an agreement would be extremely difficult. This was the last of the fictional stories for 2018, we hope. for another year at least, all of the stories on the website will be as accurate as possible. Normal service has now been resumed...
There has been a trend over the past decade for rider contract negotiations to get earlier and earlier. Where once, talks about new contracts would start sometime in June, and agreements finalized and signed during August, now, initial discussions start at the Valencia Grand Prix the year before a contract is due to end, and deals are signed in the first few races, or as in the past two contract cycles, before the season has even begun.The underlying causes for this trend are numerous, but at its heart, it comes down to the glut of talent that is in MotoGP these days, both in terms of riders and in terms of bikes. The best riders have more choice of competitive machinery, and there are more talented riders for the factories to choose from. This has forced the factories into pursuing and signing up the riders they want as early as possible. As former HRC team principal Livio Suppo told ace French journalist Thomas Baujard, "In the MotoGP class, the manufacturers are the slaves of the top riders."
The MotoGP Silly Season for 2019 and 2020 rider contracts has been particularly frenzied. Maverick Viñales announced his contract extension in January at the Movistar Yamaha team launch. Talented Moto2 prospect Pecco Bagnaia was signed by Ducati to race with the Pramac team ahead of the factory Ducati team launch in January. Marc Márquez announced he was extending with Repsol Honda before the Qatar test, and Valentino Rossi made his new two-year deal with Movistar Yamaha public on the Thursday before the Qatar race.
This frenzy of negotiations has caused the factories to push for the introduction of a "transfer window", a practice common in other sports such as soccer. From the 2020 season, when the next round of rider contracts is due, negotiations will only be allowed to take place within a narrow window, with deals signed within that window and no talks allowed either before or after. That window will be in the week following the final race of the year at Valencia.
The importance of a private test can sometimes be measured by the lack of news emerging from the track. For the past three days, the Jerez circuit has resounded to the bellow of MotoGP and WorldSBK machines, as Honda, Ducati, Aprilia, and KTM have shared the track.
Yet other than a couple of social media posts on Twitter and Instagram, there was next to no news from the test. The only official source was a brief news item on the official website of the Jerez circuit.
At the Qatar Grand Prix MotoMatters.com sat down with Jack Miller to talk about life lessons and how much his life has changed since claiming his first Grand Prix victory in the desert four years ago.
Jack Miller poses questions unlike any other racer in MotoGP. Over the last three years the Australian has seen every side of racing. He's gone from being the protégé of HRC fast tracked into MotoGP, to being discarded by them as quickly as he was chosen. Miller was a constant paradox for the paddock during the early steps of his MotoGP adventure.
He was Charlie Bucket handed the golden ticket to the HRC factory, but instead of it being the childhood dream it turned out to be a double-edged sword. In Wonka's World children faced morality tests, and in Miller's World he faced tests of his will. It took Miller time to learn the ways of the world in the premier class, but by the midpoint of his rookie campaign he was certainly showing his promise once again.