When the third round of 2015 MotoGP began Friday at Argentina’s Termas de Rio Hondo, temperatures were low and rain threatened all practice sessions.
This proved challenging for the 25-rider grid as teams and riders worked diligently to set up their respective prototypes for Saturday’s qualifying sessions. Taking the top time Friday was the underpowered Team ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-RR piloted by Aleix Espargaro finished on top.
The Spaniard finished over a half-second quicker than Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone and the reigning MotoGP Champion who dominated last weekend’s round at Circuit of the Americas in Texas, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. But come Saturday, and the grid was welcomed to sunshine and warmer track temperatures that allowed for better traction from the Bridgestone spec tires.
Friday’s top-three riders remained on top, but this time it was Marquez who posted the quickest lap, the 22-year-old Spaniard stopping the clock at 1:37.802. To put this time into perspective, en route to the victory last year Marquez posted the Best Pole record with a 1:37.683. This was Marquez’s second-consecutive pole of 2015 MotoGP, and the 52nd of his Grand Prix career.
Joining the two-time MotoGP Champion on the front row for Sunday’s 25-lap race at the 2.99-mile circuit containing 14 corners is Espargaro (-0.514s) and Iannone (-0.665s).
“I am happy today, because we were able to fight for pole and eventually got it. It was a lot of fun, because we used a three-tire strategy and it worked well. It was important to start from the front tomorrow, because the track is quite dirty and that makes it harder to overtake,” Marquez says.
“We’ll see what happens, we expect a pretty tough race with even higher temperatures than today. My strongest rivals –Jorge and Valentino– are starting from the second row, so I hope to have a good start and a strong race.”
Heading up row two is CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, who was 0.683 of a second off the pace. He will be joined on row two by Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo (-0.683) and Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso (-0.718), who finished second in the opening round at Qatar and Texas.
Pramac Racing Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci qualified seventh on top of the third row, and was the final rider to post within a second of Marquez. Eighth went to Qatar’s winner, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar MotoGP Yamaha) and ninth to the other factory Suzuki pilot, Maverick Vinales.
Hector Barbera leads the Open class with a 12th-spot qualifying result, just behind the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Honda’s Scott Redding.
As for the sole American in all of Grand Prix racing, Aspar MotoGP Team Honda’s Nicky Hayden qualified 20th.
The Grand Prix of Argentina is set for 4 p.m. local time Sunday. Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race live at 2:30 p.m. EST.
For more, visit 2015 Argentina MotoGP Preview.
2015 Argentina MotoGP Qualifying Photo Gallery: