Qualifying one started with the slower riders from Free Practice session four competing for grid positions and the chance to go into Qualifying two; the top two riders from the session are able to progress thus increasing their chance of a better position on the grid ahead of the second MotoGP race in Argentina.
As the session began Loris Baz was seen gesturing to Yonny Hernandez that there was issues with his Aspar Team MotoGP Ducati. Following the incident with Scott Redding in FP4, the Colombian did not hesitate to return to the pits where mechanics checked his bike over. He was soon back on track and it was not long before he experienced issues again; the rear wheel on his Ducati appeared to not be aligned properly and he had to take to the gravel instead of risking a major accident. A disappointed Hernandez had no choice but to park his bike up and he ended up in last position on the grid for what is classed as his home GP.
A heated end in the race for qualifying two
Jack Miller had been strong throughout the practice sessions at the Termas De Rio Hondo. However, Miller once again crashed into Turn 1 at the start of Q1 and ended up in the gravel following a crash that was similar to that earlier on in FP3. He returned to the garage to swap bikes and was soon back out on track pushing the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda to its limits. He experienced some very extreme ‘moments’ where the bike twitched, a lot! On his last flying lap he crashed again coming into Turn 13 ending his qualifying session which left him in fifteenth on the grid.
In what was an extremely close session, it was the two Monster Tech 3 Yamaha riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro who were able to progress into the second session of qualifying with previous ten fastest. Michele Pirro who is standing in for injured Danilo Petrucci on his OCTO Pram Yakhnich Ducati managed to qualify in eighteenth.
Qualifying two started for the fastest 12 riders with the news that if riders were to use the soft compound rear tyre, that they had to run a new tyre; a part worn one was not to be re-run. Movistar Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo was first to start a flying lap with Avintia Ducati rider Hector Barbera following closely behind.
Marc Marquez soon set the fastest lap on his Repsol Honda with a time of 1:39.411; the first rider to break through the 1:40 barrier. This time was still over a second faster than anyone else. The two Ducatis then made it to the front row temporarily. Soon Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi broke through the barrier securing second place as he continued to improve on his qualifying time which was just 0.375 seconds slower than that of Marquez.
LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow then crashed on his second lap of qualifying coming into turn 1; a corner which has proved extremely difficult for a lot of the riders, he was unhurt as he rushed back to the pits. He soon returned and completed his personal best lap - qualifying ninth on the grid. It was not long before Smith ended up in the gravel at Turn one when he also crashed with just less than four minutes to go; he ended up twelfth on the grid.
Turn one claimed another victim at the very end of the session as Marquez went down; he took a while to get to his feet as he was flipped over completing a backwards somersault. He still claimed pole position ahead of Rossi whose last lap claimed second just after Lorenzo had contributed his fastest lap; Lorenzo completed the first row.
How does the rest of the grid look?
Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa is at the front of the second row in fourth ahead of the two Ducatis Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Maverick Vinales is in seventh ahead of Avintia Racing Ducati rider Hector Barbera, Crutchlow completes the third row. The two Espargaro brothers, Pol (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) and Aleix (Team Suzuki Ecstar) make up the fourth row with Pol’s teammate Smith.
It feels tense as we approach the second race of the MotoGP season in Argentina. The concerns over the soft compound Michelin rear tyre have not helped ease the pressure caused by tyre choices as riders are still concerned over the handling around the front tyre. The race marshalls at turn one have been kept extremely busy as half of the field of riders have struggled to avoid the gravel trap; luckily no-one was majorly hurt. It will be a matter of who can be the most consistent throughout and who can avoid making that mistake in the first section whilst under the pressure experienced in the race.