Espargaro fights to fourth on the grid, career-best Argentina GP qualifying

Espargaro fights to fourth on the grid, career-best Argentina GP qualifying

Pol Espargaro showed off his incredible determination in Argentina, recovering from a tough and compacted day to fourth on the grid. Stefan Bradl showed steady and constant progress over the day’s running.

Delays in the arrival of some of the MotoGP freight from the previous round saw the Argentina GP compressed into a two-day event. ‘Super Saturday’ seeing the Repsol Honda Team complete Free Practice and Qualifying in just a few hours. The usual Q1/Q2 format followed two-hour-long Free Practice sessions.

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2022 season

Pol Espargaro showed his experience as he was immediately on the pace in Free Practice 1, ending the session in third place and two tenths shy of fellow Honda rider and fastest in the morning, Takaaki Nakagami. 

Later in the day, he would his first fall of the 2022 season, coming off at Turn 1 during Free Practice 2, leading to a problematic afternoon session, which resulted in the #44 fighting through Q1. MotoGP’s unique Saturday schedule in Argentina meant there was no Free Practice 3 to attempt to improve his time further.

Working with just a single bike due to the crash, Espargaro would not be stopped in Q1 and ended the session as the fastest rider despite an incredible tank slapper down the main straight. 

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The circuit

Just a single run was all Espargaro had during Q2, but he and his team pulled a rabbit out of the hat to secure the head of the second row with a 1’38.165 – only 0.046s shy of the front row. A moment at Turn 1 on his fastest lap is what Espargaro feels cost him a top-three birth.

Fourth place is Espargaro’s best grid position at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit, improving dramatically on his previous best of tenth in 2016. With the speed of the new Honda RC213V off the lane, the #44 will be one to watch when the lights go out at 15:00 Local Time on Sunday, April 03.

The Repsol Honda Team have won three of the six races held in Termas de Rio Hondo.

Stefan Bradl produced a day of steady improvements upon his return to racing the Repsol Honda Team RC213V. A 1’40.346 in FP1 would improve by over a second to set a 1’39.487 in Q1 for 14th in the session. The Honda HRC Test Rider aims for a productive race on Sunday, gathering more critical data for the Repsol Honda Team.

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Pol Espargaro

Fourth 1’38.165

“Mentally, it was a stressful day; I crashed, went through Q1 to Q2, then was battling for the front row. This morning, it was a busy day, and I did not help this, but my team worked hard. 

At the last moment, we found the setup for Qualifying, a shame we only had one tyre for Q2, but we were still able to do a good lap for fourth. I had a moment coming into Turn 1, which finally cost us the front row. 

The track changed a lot over the day, so we had to adapt a lot and become stronger with it. Warm-Up will be necessary to see where we are, there will be many rivals tomorrow, but we’re ready to fight.”

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Stefan Bradl

24th 1’39.487

“It has been a challenging weekend, or a day, for everyone with the new schedule and jumping in last minute is even more difficult. Our pace during Free Practice was okay but putting together a single lap in Qualifying was not my most vital point today. 

For tomorrow I am sure that I can make up some places because our rhythm is much better than our grid slot and those around us. 

Warm-Up will be necessary to check some setup changes we have made, and I need to keep improving my feelings. We are making improvements and seeing what happens; everything so tight together during your first weekend back in MotoGP adds an extra challenge.”

via HRC

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