Maverick Vinales continued to set the pace in second practice for the Argentine Grand Prix but a number of high-profile riders now find themselves at the mercy of the weather with Q2 spots on the line. Heavy rain is forecast for Saturday and should that prove correct, Johann Zarco, Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and both factory Ducati riders will be stranded outside the top ten.
The early stages of FP2 saw riders preparing for Sunday’s race on harder rubber with Michelin keen to assess the viability of the safety option brought to Termas de Rio Hondo. With ten minutes to go though, all attention shifted to qualifying with the teams mindful that this afternoon’s running may set the field for tomorrow’s qualifying session.
Pedrosa’s ‘qualifying run’ couldn’t have got off to a worse start with a crash at turn thirteen but elsewhere, a number of customer Ducati riders were lighting up the timing screens. Karel Abraham was among them, setting the fastest time of the weekend with a 1:39.880 while Aspar team-mate Alvaro Bautista slotted into second behind him.
Marc Marquez soon responded, bouncing back from his FP1 crash to clock a 1:39.778, but Vinales would have the last word, going three tenths faster than his title rival. The Aspar duo were third and fourth while Danilo Petrucci and Loris Baz ensured four Ducatis would make up the top six on combined times. Cal Crutchlow held top spot at one spot before slipping to seventh while Jonas Folger, Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone round out the top ten.
While so many Ducatis were flying, Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo endured a horrendous afternoon, finishing fourteenth and eighteenth, while Valentino Rossi’s early season struggles are also continuing. The Italian was only sixteenth after being baulked by Alex Rins on his soft tyre run.
2017 Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina: Free Practice Classification
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