Morbidelli makes his mark in Argentina practice
Franco Morbidelli’s exceptional start to the 2017 Moto2 World Championship campaign continued in South America today, with the Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider in dominant form during Moto2 practice at the Termas de Rio Hondo track.
Fresh from his outstanding maiden victory in Qatar 12 days ago, the Italian’s soaring confidence was clear for all to see after he narrowly missed out on topping the leaderboard in this morning’s FP1 session.
Not to be outdone though in a riveting second session this afternoon, Morbidelli produced a stunning last lap of 1.44.188 to rocket himself to the top of the timesheets by close to 0.150s.
Morbidelli improved his pace by a full second this afternoon in much more favourable conditions, with more grip laid down on a cleaner surface, and a much calmer breeze compared to this morning’s windy weather.
Nobody completed more laps than Morbidelli this afternoon, and his strong and fast pace was the ideal start to preparations for round two, in which the 22-year-old is bidding to become the first Italian in history to win back-to-back Moto2 races.
The opening day of action in Termas de Rio Hondo proved to be eventful for Álex Márquez, who finished eighth fastest this morning, despite a high-speed crash as he powered his Kalex machine through the rapid turn three right-hander.
Showing phenomenal mental resolve, the Spanish rider bounced back to challenge for top spot in FP2, and he led the standings approaching the crucial final phase.
A best lap of 1’44.557 eventually placed Márquez in sixth position and he was only just over 0.3s adrift of Morbidelli, with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS looking well primed for a double podium challenge in Sunday’s 23-lap race.
Franco Morbidelli: 1st – 1’44.188
“The first day here in Argentina has gone very well. We worked well in both sessions and I was fast in both, so this means we kept the momentum and confidence going from the pre-season and the win in Qatar. The important thing now is to keep our focus for the rest of the weekend so I can be challenging for the win again on Sunday. I spent most of today concentrating on managing the grip on used tyres, and we are already at a decent level with the bike. Now we must wait and see what will happen with the weather because I heard there is the possibility of some rain. But I feel we are prepared for whatever is thrown at us and we will be able to deal with all conditions in a calm and methodical way.”
Álex Márquez: 6th – 1’44.557
“I’ve got to be happy with how today ended after the big crash this morning. I recovered very well after the fall, which came from my mistake, so I am sorry to the team because the bike was destroyed. They did an amazing job to fix the damage for the second session and hopefully a top six repaid them a little bit. This afternoon I concentrated mainly on working on the hard rear tyre because we need to save soft options for tomorrow morning and for qualifying. I’ll use tomorrow morning to build up my rhythm on the soft tyre and adapt my riding style to suit it so we can be strong in qualifying. It will also be important to be stronger with the soft for the race because I think it is a viable option for Sunday. The hard could also be a good option but right now I think the race tyre will be the soft.”