Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) stole the headlines again on Day 1 of the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina, taking to the top to take over from reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Marquez had a lowside crash in FP1, but escaped unscathed to duel it out at the top of an unexpected first day at Termas de Rio Hondo.
The biggest news behind the two men at the front saw some big names outside the top ten after FP2 – with rain a possibility on Saturday and combined practice times crucial in deciding entry to Q2 qualifying.
Third on a shuffled pack of a Day 1 was an incredible performance from Pull&Bear Aspar Team’s Karel Abraham, as the Czech rider just pipped his teammate Alvaro Bautista in an impressive third and fourth for the Independent Team. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) was fifth, with Reale Avintia Racing’s Loris Baz another impressive performance in P6.
Seventh was 2016 Brno and Phillip Island winner Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), ahead of German Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie Jonas Folger, who was top rookie on Day 1. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was ninth, with Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone completing the top ten in what could be some crucial combined timesheets if weather changes overnight.
Outside the top ten saw Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) and Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in P11 and P12, in front of Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa in 13th - as the ‘Baby Samurai’ also suffered a lowside, low-drama crash in FP2, rider ok.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was another big name in P14, with Reale Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera completing the top 15.
Just behind Barbera saw nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) taking P16 – with another five world titles outside the top ten as Ducati Team rider Jorge Lorenzo ended Day 1 in P18.
Next is FP3, and that all-important final chance to get into the top ten and gain automatic entry to Q2 – with all eyes on the sky to see how the weather changes. The session begins on Saturday at 9:55am local time (GMT -3), with Q1 and Q2 qualifying getting underway from 14:10.