NICKY HAYDEN TAKES TWELFTH ON THE GRID AFTER FIRST Q2 APPEARANCE OF 2014
DRIVE M7 Aspar rider rounds off fourth row, with Hiroshi Aoyama heading row six
Of the three races contested so far this season, Marc Marquez has taken all three pole positions. In qualifying for the GP of Argentina on Saturday he snatched another top spot, with nearest rival Jorge Lorenzo 7 tenths of a second behind. Dani Pedrosa was 9 tenths back on his teammate. The premier class saw times drop from the 1.45’s yesterday to a 1.37.683 fastest today. Although Marquez is the clear favourite for the win, an abrasive surface and dirt on the asphalt means that tyres choices could prove decisive on Sunday.
There was an improvement of almost four seconds for Nicky Hayden over the four practice sessions for the GP of Argentina. Already a fan of the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit yesterday, the American felt comfortable enough to improve the performance of his bike and up his pace on Saturday. So much so, that in the first qualifying session he took his fastest time of the weekend (1.40.198) and claimed a spot in the Q2 sprint for the first time this season. Although he could not improve his time in that session, setting a 1.40.541 best, the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team rider was satisfied with his showing and will set off from twelfth on the grid -his best placing of the season so far. Tomorrow will be a tough race, starting from the fourth row, but he expects a positive Sunday in Argentina.
Teammate Hiroshi Aoyama also undertook a notable improvement on the second day of practice, with his best time of the weekend a 1.40.616. The Japanese DRIVE M7 Aspar rider continued to work on finding more rear grip and better maneuverability for his bike. After qualifying in sixteenth position, he will head the sixth row of the grid.
12th Nicky Hayden 1.40.541: "Today we continued to improve, but the bike was already good yesterday so we did not make drastic changes to the setup –rather only minor adjustments. Today we focused on accumulating laps to better understand the response of the tyres, with the constant evolution of the track. Today our goal was to reach Q2 and we succeeded, but with the way the weekend has turned out we reached the second qualifying session without new tyres to use. We knew it was going to be a tough session, but we have tried to do our best. Although I wanted to conclude the day closer to the top guys, we should be happy that the bike has improved and gradually we have too. The tyre choice for the race will be difficult for everyone. I'm happy with the position we took on the grid, but the first lap will be hard because there is only one safe and clean line -and everybody will want to take it. I guess the asphalt will be slippery, so we must be careful. I love this track and the atmosphere is great, so I will try to enjoy myself to the fullest and have a positive race."
16th Hiroshi Aoyama 1.40.616: "Yesterday we had some problems with the lack of grip on the track, and we were working to try to make the bike turn in better. In general we have all got better today, as on the second day the track conditions were better. Today we tried a new configuration that allowed me to lean over the bike more and also to better prepare for corner exits. Our times dropped considerably compared to the first day, but the most important thing is that the bike has evolved. Thanks to feeling good with the bike, we were able to increase our pace. Now the doubt remains about the tyres; both the hard and the soft compounds have given us good pace, so we have to assess which might be the best for the race tomorrow. We still have the warm-up session to finish clearing up the doubt."