Marc Marquez secured his fourth Argentinian pole position in a row, despite a rain-hit qualifying session at the Termas de Rio Hondo track.
In the first qualifying session of 2017, after Qatar was cancelled, Marquez quickly showed how comfortable he was in mixed conditions, later calling them perfect for his riding style. This latest pole brings his Grand Prix total to 66, the most in the modern era.
But while Marquez gave us a masterclass, it was the man who finished in second that really impressed, with Aspar’s Karel Abraham securing his first front row start in MotoGP after being in fine form so far this weekend. The Czech’s return to MotoGP caused a bit of a stir, but this is a great welcome back for Abraham as he shows that he really does belong in the class.
The Aspar of Abraham wasn’t the only satellite Ducati to go well in the wet, with Pramac’s Danilo Petrucci qualifying in 4th. While joining Marquez and Abraham on the front row was a second Honda ridden by Cal Crutchlow, who only narrowly missed out on beating Abraham by 0.003.
With tricky conditions, it was the first time that many had ridden their new bikes in the wet and that perhaps explains why Maverick Vinales finds himself starting from 6th; considering his lack of experience on the M1 it’s a good position for tomorrow’s race which is expected to be dry.
Vinales’ team-mate Valentino Rossi had to fight through Q1 after being caught out by the rain in the morning FP3 session before he could put in a good time. Both Rossi and Honda’s Dani Pedrosa made it into Q2 but were likely held back by having already used a tyre and the change in track conditions between the two sessions. Rossi will head row 3 starting 7th, while Pedrosa performed slightly better and will start from 5th.
For the factory Ducati’s Q2 was a complete irrelevance for Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo as both failed to make it through Q1, although the satellite bikes of Loris Baz in 9th and Alvaro Bautista in 10th still gave the Italian factory some further representation in the top 12 shootout.
Aleix Espargaro again showed well on the Aprilia in 8th, despite finding his pace over one lap more difficult to find than over long distance, and Tech 3 rookie Jonas Folger qualified in 11th ahead of Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone.
Tomorrow’s race is expected to be dry, so once the lights go out the grid should be shaken up fairly quickly, with the familiar front runners making their way through the pack. Marc Marquez undoubtedly has the advantage at a track he likes, so it will likely come down to tyre choice and management for the current World Champion. Warmup will prove crucial for all of the riders to perfect their dry setup and finalise their tyre selection.
In Moto3 John McPhee got his first pole since 2015, with Miguel Oliveira topping Moto2 with his first pole position in the class and the first for KTM.