Espargaro, Suzuki dominate first day of MotoGP action in Argentina

Aleix Espargaro rounds the bend during first practice at Termas de Rio Hondo circuit on April 17, 2015.

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro showed how competitive the new GSX-RR will be in Argentina by topping the first day of practice.

It is the second time that the MotoGP World Championship has visited the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit, with Marc Marquez winning the inaugural race last season. There were two MotoGP practice sessions on Friday with FP3 scheduled for tomorrow ahead of qualifying and the race on Sunday.

FP1 saw Suzuki head a MotoGP session for the first time since Alvaro Bautista set the fastest time in FP2 at Valencia in 2011, as Aleix Espargaro finished on top of the timesheets in the morning session which saw some surprising results. The reasons for this seemed simple, as during the session most factory and satellite riders used just one set of tires in an attempt to clean the dust off the racing line and increase grip levels.

Grip had improved considerably during FP2 at the 2.9-mile track, leading to all of the riders setting improved lap times in the afternoon, although 10 minutes into FP2 the rain that had threatened all day finally arrived. Luckily it was a short shower that only caused a brief delay to proceedings. After the rain, it was the usual frantic end to the session as riders went out on a fresh set of tires to attempt a flying lap.

Surprisingly, it was Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Espargaro who repeated his feat from the morning, proving that his pace from FP1 was no fluke as he finished on top of the timesheets with a 1:38.776. This time was made even more impressive by the fact that he managed to beat Dani Pedrosa’s circuit record from the 2014 race in the process, although he was still over a second off Marquez’s overall lap record.

Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone finished in second on the Ducati Team GP15 as they once again demonstrated the competitiveness of the new Desmosedici at a new track.

Marc Marquez (third) had no real answer to the pace of the Suzuki of Espargaro, explaining afterwards that he felt like he was sliding around a lot and revealing: "I think the key to this weekend will be understanding the evolution of the grip level of the track, and adapting the setup to the changes. But the important thing is that we were able to go out and ride, and we are already at a good level."

CWM LCR’s Cal Crutchlow once again impressed during practice, ending the day in fourth place, and will be hoping to turn his pace into points come the race on Sunday.

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The second GP15 of Andrea Dovizioso finished in fifth just ahead of the Movistar Yamaha of Jorge Lorenzo. The provisional third row consists of Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro, Scott Redding on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Honda and Valentino Rossi who finished the day over a second behind the leader down in ninth.

Click here for the combined results from MotoGP FP1 and FP2.