Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez started the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina in fantastic fashion, finishing the day 0.404 seconds clear of his closest rival Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol). With plenty of late chopping and changing – with all the riders battling it out to get into the top 10 – the Spaniard’s reign at the top of the time sheets rarely looked under threat.
Fellow Honda rider Crutchlow was his nearest challenger, finishing the day as top Independent Team rider on a track he has good results on in the past. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was third, despite being 0.908 back from his teammate.
Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) was the first non-Honda rider to make it straight to provisional Q2 entry as he impressed, ending the day just 0.043 behind Dani’s time. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone was the only other rider to finish within a second of Marquez in P5.
Last year’s winner Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) finished 0.067 ahead of his teammate Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), while Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) propelled himself into eighth right at the end of the day. Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Johann Zarco survived a late flurry of times to end P9, with Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) taking the final automatic Q2 spot in P10.
It was a difficult day for both factory Ducati Team riders, with Andrea Dovizioso 1.543 seconds back in 15th and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) just behind. With Rabat leading the way so far for the Borgo Panigale marque, both will want to move forward on Saturday – and will be hoping the weather stays clear to allow improved lap times on the hunt for Q2.
Hafizh Syahrin was less than a second of Lorenzo’s time on his first visit to the track in the Premier class – beating both Red Bull KTM Factory Racing bikes as he ended the day as the leading rookie.