Day 1 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina was a battle of two former pole position men at Termas de Rio Hondo as John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) – on pole in 2017 – beat Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) – the 2018 polesitter – to the top by just 0.079 after the Scot ended the day an impressive two seconds quicker than his lap from FP1; conditions ever improving. Just behind Arbolino, compatriot Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) rounded out the top three and was just a further tenth in arrears on Friday.
Crowd favourite Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), racing at home this weekend, shone in the afetrnoon despite his continuing recovery from a collarbone broken at the Qatar Test. He ends the day in fourth overall, ahead of another man to have leapt up the timesheets in FP2: Tatsuki Suzuki. The SIC58 Squadra Corse rider rounds out the top five on Day 1.
It tightened up in sixth as Sterilgarda Max Racing Team’s Aron Canet was just half a tenth ahead of Sky Racing Team VR46’s Dennis Foggia, who had to settle for seventh, and those top seven were all able to improve their laptimes by at least a second and a half in FP2. That leaves FP1’s quickest man Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) in P8 after the Spaniard could only improve by 0.6 seconds – just a little bigger than margin by which he dominated the first session of the day.
Rounding out the top ten were Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) and rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), meaning it’s an even split of Honda and KTM in the top ten – but in favour of the Japanese factory as they locked out the top five. Leopard Racing’s Lorenzo Dalla Porta recovered from an early crash at Turn 7 to finish the session 11th quickest, marginally ahead of his teammate Marcos Ramirez, with Championship leader Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) able to hold on to P13 despite a crash. VNE Snipers rider Romano Fenati – the only man in the field to have previously won at the track – is the last of the riders provisionally going straight to Q2 as he ends Friday in fourteenth place.
The Moto3™ riders’ last chance to secure a spot in Q2 comes on Saturday morning at 13:00 local time (GMT-3) as they fire up for FP3. Qualifying begins at 12:35.
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