Press releases from the MotoGP teams, Bridgestone and the circuit after qualifying for Sunday's race at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina:
Marquez rages to third consecutive pole with Pedrosa in third
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has claimed his third successive pole in as many races continuing his perfect start to the 2014 season with teammate Dani Pedrosa also taking an important front row start for tomorrow’s 25 lap race.
Marc recorded his blazing fast lap of 1’37.683 on lap 5 of 6 and finished 0.742 faster than second place man Lorenzo. Marc and Dovizioso (5th) were the only riders who chose to use the hardest option front tyre – partnered with the medium rear – with the others opting for the medium compound front. Dani, who will be aiming for one of his trademark starts, recorded his fastest lap of 1’38.651 on lap 7 of 8.
The race will begin at 14h00 local time tomorrow.
1st - 1'37.683
“Today I really felt good on the bike and I am happy to have taken pole position! In the morning and in FP4, we worked a lot with the used tyre and this afternoon we obviously focused on qualifying. I put in a very good lap and I think that tomorrow it will be interesting to see which tyre will be required for the race, because there are various options for both the front and the rear - it is going to be a difficult choice! One of the keys for the race will be tyre management, in order to try to get to the end with optimal grip - which will allow us to make the difference”
3rd - 1'38.651
“Qualifying did not go perfectly. I wasn't as fast as I wanted to be and I know that I made a few mistakes - especially on the final corner - which hindered me a lot. However, I'm happy, because the important thing is that we had some good practice sessions. We are high up the grid for tomorrow, so we shall try to make the most of this and have a good race”
First Front Row of 2014 for Lorenzo in Argentina
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo scored his first front row start of the season today, taking second in qualifying for tomorrow’s Gran Premio de la República Argentina at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. Teammate Valentino Rossi took a second row start with sixth place.
In an unusual move Lorenzo was the last to exit the pit lane today in qualifying, waiting for the pack to go before hitting the track in quiet space. The Mallorcan chose to go out with the harder option rear tyre for the first time attack, using it to score a best time of 1’39.248 to take fourth in the provisional standings. Lorenzo then returned to the pits to switch to the medium, softer option rear tyre and was back on track with five minutes remaining in fifth place. The softer tyre was the key to a front row, helping him to jump three places further up to second, securing his first front row start of the season with a 1’38.425 second lap.
Rossi also took his time to leave the pits for the qualifying session, exiting just before Lorenzo as second to last on track. The nine-time world champion got straight down to business, scoring a temporary fifth place on his first flying lap with a 1’39.421. A second flying lap saw him then enter the pits for fresh rubber 1.132 seconds from first with a 1’39.359. With just over five minutes remaining he was back out and breaking under the 1’39 mark. Rossi scored his session best on the sixth lap with a 1’38.949 to take sixth on the grid on the second row.
2nd / 1'38.425 / 7 laps
“We are trying to solve every challenge we can to be as competitive as possible. Today we made a small modification before the qualifying practice that proved to be good. It was better entering the corner and also gave us more traction so I could be a bit faster. I pushed at the maximum with the soft tyre to make a fast lap time and was able to make it. We are trying our best to be as competitive as possible and take the maximum so we are satisfied with the result.”
6th / 1'38.949 / 8 laps
“I am happy about today, it was a good practice. This morning we improved a lot the bike and this afternoon I had a good pace and was quite constant. Unfortunately I wanted to make it better in the fastest lap but I was not able to make the last 10%. I am in the second row that is quite good, we have to work and decide the tyres but I have a good feeling. We will see tomorrow.”
“Our situation is getting better. Once the circuit improved grip we automatically got faster. Combined with this we have also made big improvements to the setting and the track knowledge of the riders has improved. Now we are trying to find something else on both sides of the garage for the warm up where we can test it to be ready to start the race. Jorge delivered a really strong performance in qualifying; he showed what he is capable of with a great flying lap for second place. Vale did well and the second row is a good place to start for tomorrow’s race. We know his pace is good so we are confident he will be competitive and with the front guys. We expect to improve for tomorrow and we don’t expect the tyres to be an issue. We have our eyes firmly set on the podium.”
BRADL GETS THE 9TH PLACE AT TERMAS DE RIO HONDO QP AFTER A CRASH
Termas de Rio Hondo, 26 April: LCR racer Stefan Bradl missed the chance to produce another strong result in today’s first 15-min Q2 session at Termas de Rio Hondo, having suffered a big high-side on his second flying lap. The German used his prior knowledge of the new circuit to slot into the top five yesterday and his pace quickened significantly on day two but his performance on soft rubber was ruined by the tumble. He was not comfortable enough to rejoin the session in the last minutes and was taken to the Medical Centre for further investigation. After the treatment the 24-year-old felt much better and he is now ready to start the 25-lap race from the 9th spot on the grid.
Stefan: “First of all I am feeling much better now and this is extremely important. I crashed on turn two but we do not know what happened exactly because the traction control was working properly and this is an unusual high-side for a MotoGP bike. I had a big impact on the asphalt and did not feel 100% when I went back to the garage so we preferred to quit our session. The doctors from the Clinica Mobile looked after me and after the treatment I feel good. I just have to rest tonight and get ready for tomorrow because the 9th position is not a disaster and we are all lapping on similar pace so I still can catch the front guys”.
Superb fourth place for Aleix Espargaro at Termas De Rio Hondo
It was a great qualifying session for NGM Forward Racing rider Aleix Espargaro who set an excellent 1’38.794 that puts him at the head on the second row, only one tenth behind Dani Pedrosa, who closes the front row.
Aleix was satisfied with his race pace and tomorrow he will take the start of the Argentina GP, aiming at finishing in the top five positions.
It was a positive day also for his team mate Colin Edwards, who was out of the Q2 for less than 3 tenths. Colin found a good feeling with his Forward Yamaha and was able to improve his lap times, recording a promising 1’40.476. Tomorrow he will start from the 14th position on the grid.
“Today we tested a new set up on the front and the feeling has improved. I’m not struggling so much compared to Qatar or Texas so this is very positive. Step by step we are improving and I look forward to get a good result tomorrow. My congratulations to Aleix, who is doing an incredible job and to the whole team.”
“I’m really happy of the work done today: I have a strong race pace and the feeling with the hard tyre is good, so I aim at finishing in the top 5 tomorrow. It’s a pity that with the soft tyre I couldn’t push as I wanted. As in Austin, I lost the opportunity to start from the front row for one tenth. Anyway I’m confident for the race and I start determined to get a good result.”
Smith prepared for tough battle in Argentina
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team’s Bradley Smith confirmed his status as the ‘one to watch’ for this season, by pulling off another positive qualifying performance. He cemented his 7th place on the grid for tomorrow’s inaugural race at the fast flowing 4806 metre Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in northern Argentina.
Smith focused on fine-tuning the race setup during the FP3 session, and evaluated which front and rear tyre compound would be the best for tomorrow's race, considering the ever improving track conditions. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider showed complete resilience and sailed easily through from Qualifying 1 to Qualifying 2, even setting his best Q1 time on used tyres. He later confessed that the 15 minutes of extra track time had been an advantage as the young British rider rode his Yamaha YZR-M1 with agility around the meandering circuit and a best time of 1:38.958 which was less than a hundredth of a second behind multiple world champion, and Factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi. Tomorrow Smith will once again aim to challenge for a top 5 position, and battle with the Factory MotoGP bikes.
Pol Espargaro ran immediately at pace at the Circuito Termas de Rio Hondo, and displayed his persistent efforts and hard work today. The reigning Moto2 World champion walked away from a fall at the final turn in FP3, and was unhurt aside from a minor finger injury, but still qualified straight through to Q2. During Qualifying 2, the MotoGP rookie rode courageously to set a best lap of 1:40.407, and is confident of fighting for his second top ten points scoring finish in succession.
Bradley Smith: 7th: 1:38.958:
“I am really pleased with 7th position going into tomorrow’s race. Participating in Qualifying 1 wasn’t part of the plan, but during FP3 I was concentrating on doing long runs with used tyres to make the best choice for tomorrow’s race. But in the end, it even helped us, as the extra track time enabled us to test a few more setting changes. This was especially beneficial as the bike was struggling a bit in the braking areas, which we managed to amend. I was able to go quicker on a used hard tyre during Qualifying 1 and then could further lower my lap time on the soft in Q2. Still, things could have gone better, because I knew the track was improving but I made a small error on my first flying lap on the soft, so the tyre’s grip dropped. If this didn’t occur, maybe I would have had a chance at the second row. It will be tough tomorrow as the track is evolving all the time. I think we need to race with the hard rear tyre as it will be the most consistent. My aim is to get a good start and try to remain with the Factory Yamahas.”
Pol Espargaro: 11th: 1:40.407:
“Honestly I am quite disappointed with my qualifying result of 11th, but I still feel confident of achieving a good result tomorrow as my rhythm was competitive during all the other sessions and I really felt comfortable on the bike. After the crash this morning, I felt a little bit confused but beside a small injury on my finger I was lucky to getaway unhurt and it will not be a problem for tomorrow. This afternoon I decided to try the hard tyre to improve my lap time in qualifying but this was the wrong choice. I felt stronger on it the whole weekend, but the changing grip level and higher temperatures did not put me in the best conditions to get the maximum out of my bike. We still have to try a few things during the warm up, and also the final tyre decision has to be made. In any case I will give it my all during the race, and with a good start I’m convinced I can battle with the other satellite riders.”
NICKY HAYDEN TAKES TWELFTH ON THE GRID AFTER FIRST Q2 APPEARANCE OF 2014
DRIVE M7 Aspar rider rounds off fourth row, with Hiroshi Aoyama heading row six
Of the three races contested so far this season, Marc Marquez has taken all three pole positions. In qualifying for the GP of Argentina on Saturday he snatched another top spot, with nearest rival Jorge Lorenzo 7 tenths of a second behind. Dani Pedrosa was 9 tenths back on his teammate. The premier class saw times drop from the 1.45’s yesterday to a 1.37.683 fastest today. Although Marquez is the clear favourite for the win, an abrasive surface and dirt on the asphalt means that tyres choices could prove decisive on Sunday.
There was an improvement of almost four seconds for Nicky Hayden over the four practice sessions for the GP of Argentina. Already a fan of the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit yesterday, the American felt comfortable enough to improve the performance of his bike and up his pace on Saturday. So much so, that in the first qualifying session he took his fastest time of the weekend (1.40.198) and claimed a spot in the Q2 sprint for the first time this season. Although he could not improve his time in that session, setting a 1.40.541 best, the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team rider was satisfied with his showing and will set off from twelfth on the grid -his best placing of the season so far. Tomorrow will be a tough race, starting from the fourth row, but he expects a positive Sunday in Argentina.
Teammate Hiroshi Aoyama also undertook a notable improvement on the second day of practice, with his best time of the weekend a 1.40.616. The Japanese DRIVE M7 Aspar rider continued to work on finding more rear grip and better maneuverability for his bike. After qualifying in sixteenth position, he will head the sixth row of the grid.
12th Nicky Hayden 1.40.541: "Today we continued to improve, but the bike was already good yesterday so we did not make drastic changes to the setup –rather only minor adjustments. Today we focused on accumulating laps to better understand the response of the tyres, with the constant evolution of the track. Today our goal was to reach Q2 and we succeeded, but with the way the weekend has turned out we reached the second qualifying session without new tyres to use. We knew it was going to be a tough session, but we have tried to do our best. Although I wanted to conclude the day closer to the top guys, we should be happy that the bike has improved and gradually we have too. The tyre choice for the race will be difficult for everyone. I'm happy with the position we took on the grid, but the first lap will be hard because there is only one safe and clean line -and everybody will want to take it. I guess the asphalt will be slippery, so we must be careful. I love this track and the atmosphere is great, so I will try to enjoy myself to the fullest and have a positive race."
16th Hiroshi Aoyama 1.40.616: "Yesterday we had some problems with the lack of grip on the track, and we were working to try to make the bike turn in better. In general we have all got better today, as on the second day the track conditions were better. Today we tried a new configuration that allowed me to lean over the bike more and also to better prepare for corner exits. Our times dropped considerably compared to the first day, but the most important thing is that the bike has evolved. Thanks to feeling good with the bike, we were able to increase our pace. Now the doubt remains about the tyres; both the hard and the soft compounds have given us good pace, so we have to assess which might be the best for the race tomorrow. We still have the warm-up session to finish clearing up the doubt."
Argentina GP qualifying: Row 2 for Dovizioso with fifth place, Pirro down in nineteenth
Andrea Dovizioso qualified in fifth place for the Argentina GP, third round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship, which will take place tomorrow at the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo in the north of the country. His team-mate Michele Pirro, who is replacing the injured Cal Crutchlow, was unable to find a good feeling with his Ducati Team Desmosedici GP14, and could only finish nineteenth.
In the early stages of Q2 Dovizioso set a time of 1m39.545s on his second lap out, which powered him close to the top of the times in the provisional standings. After returning to the pits to fit a second soft tyre, Dovi then managed to further improve by seven-tenths of a second, ending qualifying with a time of 1m38.856s, which earned him a row 2 start position for tomorrow’s race.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 5th (1m38.856s)
“I am very happy with my position: starting from row 2 tomorrow is fine. But I’m happy above all for the good work we did today. This morning we were quick over one lap, but rather slow over race pace because we were wearing out the rear tyre in a strange way. However we managed to improve the set-up of the bike a lot, this afternoon I was able to lower my pace by almost two seconds, and so now I can get a relaxing night’s sleep! I did a really good lap in qualifying, and when you do this the feelings are always great. Managing the tyres in the race will be very complicated; when you go to a new circuit, with a dirty track surface and no rubber, there are always these problems. I am sure that tomorrow in the race, as well as speed, the difference will be made by those who can ride smoothly and not aggressively.”
Michele Pirro (Ducati Team #51) – 19th (1m41.018s)
“I am pretty disappointed because I was not able to find a good feeling with my Desmosedici GP14. I don’t exactly know why, but I struggled a lot more than expected. This is in no way the position we should be with this bike, so now me and my engineers will try and find a solution for me to run a decent race tomorrow and repay my team for all the work they’ve done in these days.”
FOURTH AND FIFTH ROW FOR BAUTISTA AND REDDING IN ARGENTINA
Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Argentina from the fourth and fifth row of the grid respectively.
Bautista finished the breathless 15-minute QP2 to decide the top 12 grid positions in tenth, with a personal best time of 1’39”429: a result no doubt below expectations, however, mitigated by the fact by having found a good rhythm with the hard tyre during the fourth and final free practice session, thanks to some changes to the bike set-up shown to be very successful.
His team mate, Scott Redding, narrowly missed the entrance to QP2 for a few thousandths of a second, showing a great potential. The young Briton will start the race from thirteenth place with a time of 1’40”238.
ALVARO BAUTISTA (10th - 1'39"429)
“The situation has improved a lot compared to yesterday: we made many changes to the bike set-up and already this morning I felt much more at ease than yesterday. Even the track conditions have improved a lot, but we made a big step forward regardless. Thanks to the good work done on the bike, during the last free practice session I managed to keep a good pace and I was very consistent with the hard tyre, so I’m very confident for tomorrow's race. Unfortunately, in qualifying I made some mistakes during my fastest lap and there was a lot of traffic, so I have not been able to set a reasonably good lap time. However, tomorrow we can do a good race: I would like to thank my team because they are working hard to help me”.
SCOTT REDDING (13th - 1'40"238)
“I’m happy with my qualifying: we checked the split times and it’s clear that my ideal lap time would have been quicker than Hayden. When I went out on track I didn’t push hard enough with the new softer tyre in the beginning: it was my own fault, and it’s a good lesson for the future. Then, I lost the rear a couple of times in my last two fast laps, losing 0.5 seconds in only one sector. All in all, I’m satisfied, but also a little disappointed because Nicky is in front of us. During Free Practice 4 I felt really good and I was pretty consistent with the hard tyre, thanks to a set-up change made on the fron end, so today we made big improvements. Regarding tyres, I think that the only option for the race is the hard compound; anyway, the track is coming better, so is the tyre life, therefore tomorrow’s race could be really interesting for us”.
“Alvaro and the team did a great job with the race tyre, while we struggled more during qualifying with the softer tyre. The important thing though is that we improved a lot our race pace compared to yesterday. It’s clear that starting back on the grid makes the things more complicated: it won’t be an easy race, but overall the situation is better than it might seem at the end of the first day of practice. I am convinced that we can make a good race: except Marquez, the gap from other riders is not so high. Redding was really close to enter the Qualifying 2: it would have been a great satisfaction for him to enter it. In any case, Scott is proving once again to be one of the fastest riders aboard the Open Class Honda, and this is undoubtedly positive”.
Third and sixth row for Pramac Racing
A beautiful sunny day on this second day of the Grand Prix of Argentina. Pramac Racing Team riders improve their lap times, also thanks to the better track conditions due to the rubbering of the racing line. A good qualification for Andrea Iannone that made him earn the eighth place on the starting grid, Yonny Hernandez struggled a little bit more with his qualifying in seventeenth position.
Andrea Iannone - Pramac Racing - takes on the day still sore from yesterdays crash, despite this, the twenty-four year old is still competitive. The determination of Andrea and the excellent work of the Team are earned him the eighth place in FP3 which gave direct access to the qualifying practice. The qualification was not perfect but still satisfactory, the Maniac Joe starts off from eighth place on the grid and has a good setting to do well in tomorrow's race.
Yonny Hernandez - Energy T.I. Pramac Racing - continues it improve both his lap times and his race pace during the third and fourth practice sessions. Unfortunately, he still lacks the experience to interpret the qualification session where the Colombian rider was unable to make the best of the soft tire. With a his best lap time in 1’40"691 that earns him the sixth row.
Andrea Iannone ( Pramac Racing)
"Today was a good day, I had a good qualifying session. I still have pain in my neck after yesterday crash but despite this we managed to do a good job improving the bike a lot. On my sigle lap, as last year, I still struggle a bit, for tomorrows race I have a good pace and I think I can do well. I thank the team for all the hard work and Ducati. "
Yonny Hernandez (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)
"I'm not satisfied with my qualifications today because I could not get a good rhythm and I was not as fast as I wanted. Tomorrow I think I will do much better i have a good race pace even with the used tire. In the race I want to do a good result not only for me but and for this race in South American, I believe in myself and I'll do my best to finish in the points. "
From fifteenth position to the race on the new track
The Czech rider Karel Abraham starts to tomorrow premiere race of MotoGP in Argentina after balanced qualifying session from fifteenth position on the grid. After minor problems with setting in today's free practice, Abaja managed to speed up substantially at the end of first part of qualifying session of MotoGP class and he improved a lot his best time. Abraham reached time 1:40,615 and loses 3,068 of seconds to the winner of today's qualifying session to Spaniard Marc Marquez.
"Today it was quite good. The position on the grid is the best that I have reached in this season and so we are satisfied. I would be even happier if I had been able to ride today's best time more time in a row. I will try to do it in warm up tomorrow. We had some small problems with the bike today; we tried different types of setting and tyres. We will continue with that also tomorrow. I'm looking forward to the race. I do enjoy the track because there are lots of fast and long corners and I like it. We will see tomorrow, but for now we are optimistic."
Termas de Rio Hondo is the 2nd fastest circuit in the MotoGP World Championship
[177.1 Kph Average speed]
Marc Marquez stops the chrono at 1'37.683" at an average speed of 177.1 Kph. With this first result, with track grip still to be improved, Termas de Rio Hondo won the 2nd place in the Fastest Circuit in MotoGP. Using DroCAS™ simulators, Dromo designed the racetrack as per vehicle dynamics and to enhance rider's skills capabilities.
Simulated MotoGP Ideal LapTime (3D): 1' 34.302"
Qualifying Practice MotoGP: 1' 37.683"
Top speed: 327.3 Kph - Marc Marquez
Average speed: 177.1 Kph
Stellar lap sees Marquez claim third successive pole position
Round 3: Argentina MotoGP™ - Qualifying Practice
Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo, Saturday 26 April 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Symmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP3 - Dry. Ambient 19-21°C; Track 26-31°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP4/QP - Dry. Ambient 25-25°C; Track 41-42°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez kept his perfect pole record for the season intact, as the reigning World Champion set a scorching lap time of 1'37.683 in qualifying for the Argentina Grand Prix.
Marquez’s first flying lap in Qualifying Practice 2 was quicker than any of his rivals could manage, but he went even quicker on his penultimate lap to finish to finish 0.742 seconds clear of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo who finished in second place. On the other Repsol Honda, Dani Pedrosa will start tomorrow’s race in third place on the grid with his lap time of 1’38.425 securing him a front row slot.
Track conditions improved today with more rubber and less dust on the asphalt providing a slight increase in grip compared to yesterday. The peak track temperature of 42°C was recorded during Qualifying Practice and was an increase of 8°C from yesterday’s high. The better track surface enabled riders to extract more performance from the tyres, with a significant improvement in lap times and more consistent performance over race distance. The hard compound rear slick was the preferred option among the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders, providing more consistent performance while the medium compound rear slick was more popular with the Ducati and Open-class riders.
For the time attack in Qualifying Practice 1 and 2, riders used the softer rear slick options available to them, although some riders also set impressive lap times on their harder rear slick option. With three front options available this weekend, front tyre choice for today’s sessions showed a strong preference for the medium compound front slick, although all three specifications were utilised by riders today.
The next MotoGP™ session is the morning Warm Up session at 0940 local time (GMT -4) with the twenty-five lap Argentina Grand Prix set to start at 1400.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“The track surface improved again today and this brought with it better grip levels and tyre durability. In today’s practice sessions we could see some riders were able to still set quick lap times on tyres which had completed almost race distance, so this bodes well for tomorrow’s race. Perhaps the best example of this was Marquez setting the quickest time in FP3 on a rear tyre that he had run more than twenty laps on. It seems the harder rear slick options for the Factory and Open-class riders will be the most prevalent options for tomorrow’s race, while the medium compound front will be used by most riders for the race.”