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Mighty Marc Marquez fended off all challengers to hold onto the top spot of FP2 ahead of Pedrosa and Viñales.
Temperatures soared for MotoGP™ FP2, the track reaching a staggering 53°C with ambient temperatures at 32.2°C the session proved as much of a physical challenge as any session in Sepang.
Most of the Honda and Suzuki riders went out on new tyres while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team focused on using older Michelins in the opening stage of the session. Aside from tyre life and performance, weather remains a great unknown in Argentina with heavy rain predicted on Saturday and Sunday. If it were to rain on Saturday during FP3, then the top ten from Friday would be guaranteed to advance directly to Q2.
With 11 and a half minutes to go, riders fitted new tyres and went out with their eyes focused on the top of the timesheets. Fastest of them all was Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) with a 1’41.579, 2.2 seconds faster than in FP1. While Marquez may have had massive problems during testing and for much of the Qatar GP weekend, they seem to have left in Argentina.
It was not just Marquez who proved that the Honda is still a top tier bike, his teammate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) ending only 0.025s behind him. This is just Pedrosa’s second time at the track, having missed the 2015 edition due to arm pump surgery. The Repsol Honda pair were the only riders able to set times in the 1’41s.
Completing the top three was Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar), who set a 1’42.047 after going down at Turn 3. Just behind Viñales was his good friend Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), the Australian back to being almost fully fit and looking stronger than ever. It wasn’t a flawless session for Miller however, he narrowly avoided contact with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) mid-session: “He braked late, I thought I was okay but he had more stopping power and we touched. I’m glad I didn’t clean him up!” said Miller.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) improved from 20th in FP1 to end FP2, and the day overall, in fifth. The Brit able to cut close to four seconds off his time and make it four Hondas in the top five, an incredible result after their struggles in Qatar.
Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) completed the top ten and ensured themselves a spot in Q2 if the rain falls tomorrow.
Meanwhile it was a disastrous session for Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), the World Champion down in 14th and 1.240 seconds off the pace. Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) also struggled and was only able to manage 15th.
Aleix Espargaro suffered an early fall at Turn 9 while pushing for a fast lap. He then fell towards the end of the session at Turn 1. Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) fell at Turn 13 after carrying far too much speed into the corner. All were unharmed and returned to the track soon after their falls.
Michele Pirro, who will fill in for Danilo Petrucci in the Octo Pramac Yakhnich team while Petrucci recovers from further hand surgery, was not present as he had been assisting Ducati at a WorldSBK test in Valencia. He will join the field for FP3 onwards.
Full times from the second practice session can be viewed here.
MotoGP™ action resumes at 09:55 Local Time for FP3 on Saturday.
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