As 2015 Argentina MotoGP got underway at Termas de Rio Hondo for round three of 18, all the hype centered around Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, who dominated last weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Texas, and won last year in Argentina.
But when Friday’s practice sessions wrapped up, an unexpected rider took the top spot – Team ECSTAR Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro.
Despite the threat of rain, temperatures and track conditions improved as the day progressed. There was a slight shower during FP2 that caused a delay, but all sessions were held under dry conditions. This allowed Espargaro to really push the GSX-RR, which is underpowered over the other prototypes.
The Spaniard took the top time with an impressive 1:38.776 in the second and final free practice. Due to many riders using one set of tires in FP1 to lay some rubber down, grip was much better during FP2.
Second went to Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone, who finished 0.535 of second behind Espargaro, and a mere 0.025 of a second ahead of Marquez.
Finishing fourth on top of the provisional second row with another impressive performance aboard the CWM LCR Honda was Cal Crutchlow, who was 0.627 of a second off the pace.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso finished fifth, 0.658 of a second back, just ahead of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo (-0.687).
The provisional third row consists of Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro in 7th, Marc VDS Racing’s Scott Redding, and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi, the nine-time World Champion who finished over a second behind the leader.
The Movistar Yamaha’s of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi seemed to struggle with the track conditions as they tried out the extra hard tyre. Both riders explained that Suzuki’s softer tyre option is what had given them an advantage, and that they were not far behind the rest of the riders, MotoGP reports.
As for the sole America in MotoGP, Aspar Team MotoGP’s Nicky Hayden was the leading Open class rider in 14th place, 1.7 second off the top pace.
The 25-rider grid will return to Termas de Rio Hondo circuit Saturday for two more free practices and qualifying ahead of Sunday’s 25-lap MotoGP.
2015 Argentina MotoGP Friday Practice Photo Gallery: