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Apr 27, 2014 - 08:59 AM
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Qualifying Grand Prix Of Argentina, Termas De Rio Hondo
Posted by: newsla on Apr 27, 2014 - 08:53 AM
MotoGP
Qualifying Grand Prix Of Argentina, Termas De Rio Hondo


Repsol Honda RC213V rider Marc Marquez added a few more lines to his growing legend in Argentina today, claiming a third pole position in the first three races of the 2014 season, after a third successive dominant performance throughout practice and qualifying.

 

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While the defending 2013 World Champion – the youngest in history – maintained a comfortable gap over his rivals throughout two days of practice, Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa took a leading role among them, returning to the front row for a second successive race after qualifying a close third.

The riders in the factory-backed team will start tomorrow’s race separated by second-fastest Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha).

Marquez, previously 125 and Moto2 champion, has taken a strong early lead in the championship after winning the two opening rounds in Qatar and the USA, both from pole-position starts.

The 21-year-old Spaniard displayed his prowess again in Argentina with a typically flamboyant display of on-the-limit riding. His technique for learning a brand-new track was spectacular as he explored the outer limits from the first session. Brimming with confidence, he was also learning the layout and pursuing a careful tyre-management strategy, on a surface that punishes even the hardest choice of tyre compound.

Pedrosa as usual took a more measured approach to learning the new track and fine-tuning the settings on his RC213V Honda to get the most out of it. He saved his final effort for the important qualifying session, closing to within just under a second of his team-mate’s final devastating run, displaced by only two tenths by Lorenzo.

Pedrosa lies a strong second overall in the championship, after two successive rostrum finishes – third in Qatar and second in Texas. The experienced Spaniard, former 125 and double 250 World Champion, is known for his consistent podium strength.

German former Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) qualified ninth, in spite of missing half the qualifying session after heavy tumble. Bradl walked away, but did not go out again, thwarting his hopes of repeating his front row start in the USA two weeks ago. Bradl finished fourth in that race.

Spanish former 125cc champion Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda RC213V) was less than two tenths and one place down in tenth. Bautista has an extra role, race-testing Nissin brakes and Showa suspension, made by Japanese companies with strong links to Honda.

Honda’s 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden – back with the marque on one of the new “Open” RCV1000R production racers – was the next best, in 12th. For the first time this year the popular and experienced American won through from Q1 to take his place in Q2, fighting for the front three rows.

Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda RCV1000R) was disappointed to fail to make the top two in Q1 so as to have a chance in the “senior” Q2 session, but he was beaten by Hayden by four hundredths of a second. The ex-Moto2 class rookie will start from 13th, at the head of row five.

Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) placed 15th at the far end of the same row, the Czech rider’s best position so far this year as he continues to recover from major shoulder surgery that cut short his season last year.

Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) was one place down in 16th. The Japanese rider won the last ever 250cc World Championship for Honda, and also returns to the marque this year.

Moto2 honours were fiercely contested, as ever in a class where identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines are supplied by the organisers to guarantee reliable and ultra-close racing on evenly matched machines.

So it proved in Argentina, with 19 riders within one second of pole time.

All the same, nobody could stop points leader Esteve Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) from securing a third successive pole this year, with a series of blistering laps at the close of the session. Rabat won the opening round in Qatar, and was second in Texas.

Rabat pushed late-stages leader Johann Zarco (Caterham AirAsia Caterham Suter) to second by 0.010 of a second. Zarco is yet to score, after crashing out of the first two races. In a sensational late run Federal Oil Gresini Suter rider Xavier Simeon moved into third place to complete the front row.

This displaced class rookie and reigning Moto3 champion Maverick Vinales (Pons HP 40 Kalex) to the second row, ahead of free practice leader and fellow class rookies Jonas Folger (AGR Team Kalex) and Luis Salom (Pons HP 40 Kalex). Vinales won the GP in Texas, his second Moto2 race.

In the Moto3 class, where Honda is in combat with other manufacturers, the new NSF250RW maintained its full house of front-row grid start, with SaxoPrint-RTG rider Efren Vazquez qualifying a close second, half of a tenth of a second behind pole-sitter Jack Miller (KTM).

As ever in the extremely competitive class times were close, and with big groups of riders all seeking the all-important slipstream on the long straight the order was shuffling until the very end.

Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0.0 Honda) was the next-best Honda rider, just seven tenths off pole time but placed eighth, in the middle of the third row. His team-mate Alex Marquez was only two tenths slower, but placed 11th on row three in the final grid-position lottery.

Scottish rider John McPhee (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda) qualified 13th to head row five. Ongetta-Rivacold Honda rider Alexis Masbou was 20th. The French rider missed half the session after a heavy crash, where another rider knocked him flying at speed.

Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia Honda) qualified 25th, in a field of 33.

The 4.806-km new Termas de Rio Hondo circuit is fast and rhythmical, well-suited to motorcycle racing, and earned praise from all the riders. Marquez’s pole average speed of 177.1 km/h makes it the second-fastest circuit on the calendar. But the little-used surface proved dusty and abrasive, causing rapid tyre wear, although improving with more use.


Honda MotoGP rider quotes

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: 1st, 1m 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.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 3rd, 1m 38.920s
“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.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 9th, 1m 39.297s
“First of all I am feeling much better now, and this is extremely important. I crashed on Turn 2, but we do not know what happened exactly because the traction control was not working properly, and this was an unusual high-side for a MotoGP bike. I had a big impact on the asphalt and did not feel 100 percent when I went back to the garage, so we preferred to quit the 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 ninth position is not a disaster. We are all lapping on a similar pace, so I can still catch the front guys.”

Alvaro Bautista, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 10th, 1m 39.429s
“We have improved a lot from yesterday, changing the bike a lot and found a better pace. Okay, the track conditions are better and everyone was faster, but I made a bigger step than them. This afternoon I tried with the hard rear tyre, because after three or four laps the soft moves around a lot and 25 laps will not be possible. The hard felt good and more consistent, with a good pace. In qualifying I made some mistakes and also found a lot of other riders slowing me in the corners, but I am still confident for tomorrow.”

Nicky Hayden, Drive M7 Aspar Honda: 12th, 1m 40.541s
“First of all I want to say the circuit is fantastic, and the atmosphere is fantastic. I’ve had a lot of fun from my first time out. Today we continued to improve, but the bike was already good yesterday, so no drastic changes, just minor adjustments. Today the goal was to reach Q2 and we succeeded, but the way the weekend turned out we reached the final session without new tyres to use. We knew it was going to be a tough session. I wanted to end the day closer to the top, but we should be happy that the bike has improved. Tyre choice will be difficult and the first lap will be hard because there is only one safe, clean line, and everyone will want to take it.”

Scott Redding, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 13th, 1m 40.238s
“I’m happy with my qualifying. We checked the split times and it’s clear 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. My own fault, and a good lesson for the future. Then I lost the rear a couple of times in my last two fast laps. All in all I’m satisfied, but a little disappointed because Nicky is in front of us. Regarding tyres, I think the only option is the hard compound; anyway the track is coming better and so is the tyre life, so tomorrow’s race could be really interesting for us.”

Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Motoracing Honda: 15th, 1m 40.616s
“Today it was quite good. The position on the grid is the best that I have reached this season and so we are satisfied. I would be even happier if I had been able to ride today’s best time more times 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.”

Hiroshi Aoyama, Drive M7 Aspar Honda: 16th, 1m 40.616s
“It is a very interesting circuit, but the grip is difficult. Yesterday we were working to make the bike turn in better. We tried a new configuration that allowed me to lean the bike over more, and also prepare better for corner exits. Our time dropped considerably, but the most important thing is that the bike has evolved and we were able to increase our pace. Both hard and soft tyres worked well, so we have to assess which will be best. We still have the warm-up session to finish clearing up the doubt.”


Moto2 rider quotes

Esteve Rabat, Marc VDS Racing Team, 1st, 1m 43.961s
“Today was very difficult. All weekend has been difficult, because on the first day we had problems with the rear tyre and on the second day with the front tyre. It was very difficult to understand, but in the end we found a good solution. The front worked well at the end of practice and I was able to make a lot of good laps. At a new track, the conditions are always changing: what is important is tomorrow’s race.”

Johann Zarco, AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing Team: 2nd, 1m 43.971s
“I have to be happy to be on the front row. It helps for the race, and my pace is good. Again I lost pole to Tito, but this time we are closer and I am feeling better on the bike. I have to forget the first two races. I will do as well as I can tomorrow, but the target is to finish. It is important for me, and also for information for the team. I will be calm in the race, and we will see what the others can do.”

Xavier Simeon, Federal Oil Gresini Moto2: 3rd, 1m 44.038s
“I’m very happy, because I pushed to the end, and could get the front row. The times are so close! Since yesterday we improved the bike so much. Every session was faster. The surface is difficult, so slippery. The line is there, but you cannot go outside it … it’s like a dirt-track!”


Honda Moto3 Rider quotes

Efren Vazquez, SaxoPrint-RTG Honda: 2nd, 1m 49.252s
“We are really happy with second place – even more than in Austin, because we had such a good feeling in practice, and kept the concentration in qualifying. This track is really, really nice, with fast corners, but tomorrow’s race will be hard. There are a lot of fast riders. I will have good rhythm, keep calm in the first laps, then look ahead to the rest of the race.”

Alex Rins, Estrella Galicia 0,0: 8th, 1m 49.988s
“We’ve taken a big step forward, improving a lot from Friday thanks to the hard work we’ve been doing with the team. I am happy; obviously there are riders that are a step ahead of us at the moment but in the race, with the wear the tyres are suffering, I don’t think that they will be as fast. If they are, then I will try to latch onto them. If we can’t do that, will take as many points as possible.”

Alex Marquez, Estrella Galicia 0,0: 11th, 1m 50.185s
“It’s clear that in the morning we took a step forward compared to yesterday. I was much closer to the top time and felt more comfortable on the bike. In the afternoon we tried a different setup, which didn’t work as we had hoped and didn’t let me ride as I like. In warm-up we will go back to this morning’s set-up, as I think it was working well and still leaves room for improvement. In the race I will aim for a good start, because we saw in Austin that Miller and Vazquez will try to open a gap. We need to overtake riders ahead of us in order to be able to play our cards on the final laps.”


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