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.
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.
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