Márquez and Morbidelli make strong start in South America

Márquez and Morbidelli make strong start in South America

Tricky track conditions and sweltering heat failed to prevent Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Álex Márquez and Franco Morbidelli from making an impressively fast start in practice for this weekend’s Termas de Rio Hondo Moto2 round. 

Air temperatures soared to a draining 35 degrees for this afternoon’s FP2, which took place on a cleaner but still slippery track surface after a lack of grip was the dominant factor in this morning’s opening session.

Track temperature rocketed to a tyre punishing 54 degrees this afternoon, but Márquez and Morbidelli took full advantage of the better grip on offer to finish fifth and seventh respectively on combined times.

Márquez was a second faster this afternoon in FP2 to move seven places up the rankings, as the Spaniard wasted no time in regaining his confidence after a crash put him out of last month’s opening round in Qatar.

His best lap of 1’44.921 was just over 0.1s off the top three and 0.388s behind reigning World Champion Johann Zarco, who set the pace in both sessions.

Morbidelli was less than 0.1s behind Márquez in an incredibly closely fought first day of practice that ended with less than one second splitting the top 14.

Álex Márquez: 5th – 1’44.921
“I am pleased with today’s result but we have to keep working and stay with our maximum focus because if the track is dry tomorrow then the lap times will improve a lot. My pace for one fast lap is not so bad but I need to have a faster rhythm to be competitive in the race. That will be my target in the morning and then for qualifying my goal will be to get a place on the first three rows.”

Franco Morbidelli: 7th – 1’45.003
“We managed to make the bike better for me this afternoon but we still need to improve to close the gap to the fastest guys. We are not missing much in terms of the lap time but over a race distance it will make it more difficult, so hopefully we can work into a position where I was strong and competitive like in the race in Qatar.”

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Today was a positive day and we have a good base now for the weekend. This morning we could see immediately that Franco had the pace and this afternoon Álex was able to catch up and set an impressive lap time considering how difficult the conditions were. The top group is very close, so it will be important to have a good qualifying so both of them can attack in the lead group at the start of the race. We have to wait and see what the weather will do tomorrow, but I am confident if it is dry again that Álex and Franco have the potential to be in the top six on the grid.”