2016 Argentina GP Qualifying Results: Marquez On MotoGP Pole, Michelin Tires Fail

Turn 1 Crashes and Michelin Tire Failure Creates Drama at Termas de Rio Hondo

Scott Redding Michelin tire failure at Argentina GP
In the second run of FP4 British rider Scott Redding had to deal with a sudden problem with the rear tire. TV footage showed that the tread came away from the tire, first destroying the rear of the Ducati Desmosedici GP and then hitting Redding's back causing him visible bruising and abrasions. Redding managed to ride the bike off the track limiting further damage.©Motorcyclist

MotoGP Statement Regarding Scott Redding’s FP4 Rear Tire Failure

Following the incident in Saturday’s FP4 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina at Termas de Rio Hondo involving Octo Pramac Yakhnich’s Scott Redding, during which the rear tire suffered a failure on track, specific actions will be taken for Sunday’s race.

Redding’s tire – a medium compound with seven laps on it – is still being examined by Michelin’s technicians to determine the cause of the fault. Until this can be determined, Michelin has decided to withdraw both rear tires on safety grounds, and introduce the extra “special” rear compound brought for such an occasion. Each rider will have four of these rear tires for Sunday.

The reason both current tires must be withdrawn is because they are both of the same construction, meaning that there is a possibility of a similar failure on the harder tire. Michelin’s new rear tire to be introduced from Sunday is of a harder construction, and will cope better with the hard strains and temperatures put through it – albeit at the expense of lap times.

Marc Marquez on pole at 2016 Argentina GP
Marc Marquez clinched pole position, his third in a row at the Argentina GP. On Michelin's decision to replace the rear tires for Sunday's race, “After this decision from Michelin, I think that tomorrow will be a bit of an unknown because everyone will have a different tire spec from what we’ve used for the whole weekend. We’ll wait and see how it works."©Motorcyclist

With 19 and a half minutes remaining in FP4, Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) encountered an issue with the rear of his bike at Turn 6. The Brit was able to ride his bike off the track, but debris brought out the red flag. After a brief pause the session resumed.

Riders returned to the track but the session was then brought to a stop again with four minutes remaining, the red flag was deployed again on safety grounds. Race Direction chose to investigate the Redding incident fully. At 14:25 Local Time the session was resumed for the final four minutes.

As a result Michelin have withdrawn the two rear tire options and replaced it with a special rear featuring a harder construction to withstand the temperatures and demands of the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. An extra 30-minute free practice session will be held at 09:00 local time to allow riders to adapt to the new situation.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith joined the top ten MotoGP World Championship riders for Q2. Track temperature was just above 40°C, slightly warmer than in FP3. All riders headed out with the hard front tire and the medium option Michelin tires for the start of the 15-minute session.

Valentino Rossi wheelie
Valentino Rossi on the Michelin tire specification: "This new allocation changes the situation a lot, because I thought they would pull the soft tyre and we could race with the harder option, but unfortunately we have to race with a tyre that we never tried before."©Motorcyclist

It didn’t take long for the fast times to come, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) easing into the session with a 1’39.411, the fastest lap of the weekend. This lap time immediately put him a second ahead of the rest of the field and saw the riders playing catch up.

Unlike in Qatar, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) returned to the pits after just a single flying lap, opting for a slightly different strategy to the rest of the field. His teammate, Valentino Rossi, chose to stay out for several laps and was the second rider to drop into the 1’39s by the halfway mark of the session.

Two or three stop strategies didn’t matter as the session came to a close. Marquez was untouchable in the session. A crash at Turn 1 with three minutes remaining saw the Spaniard unable to improve his time, but no rider was able to get within 0.3s of his 1’39.411. This is Marquez’s first pole position since Phillip Island in 2015 and his 13th consecutive front-row start in the premier class. On each of his visits to the Termas de Rio Hondo, Marquez has started on pole.

A 1’39.786 saw The Doctor as the only rider able to get within half a second of Marquez’s time. This is just Rossi’s 13th front row start since returning to Yamaha in 2013. Rossi’s last front row start came at the Malaysian GP in 2015, where he went on to finish third. The Italian proved in Qatar that if he can stay with the front riders he can battle for the podium, second on the grid gives him a perfect perch to launch from and stop Lorenzo and Marquez.

MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo on the Michelin spec tire: "It‘s a very strange situation that I‘ve never encountered before. Unfortunately we had some issues in the recent past and it‘s definitely not a comfortable situation for the riders and the teams, but things are like that. I have great respect for Michelin and for the efforts they have put in these last few months to improve the 2016 tires."©Motorcyclist

Completing the front row is defending MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, his worst grid position since he was fourth at the Malaysia GP in 2015. His 1’39.786 was 0.533s back on Marquez’s time, both riders having fallen at Turn 1 over the course of the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina weekend. Due to his crash in FP4 the Majorcan had only one bike for the session, a second fall would have been devastating. The top three were the only riders able to drop into the 1’39s.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) will lead the charge from the second row, 0.6s behind his teammate. Fourth is a dramatic improvement over his seventh place start at Qatar. Pedrosa will be aiming to return to the podium after missing out in Qatar, the leading riders able to break away without him.

Dani Pedrosa
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa posted a very close fourth-fastest time to put him on the second row.©Motorcyclist

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) starts as the leading Ducati in fifth; his early pace not lasting until qualifying as both the factory Ducati riders struggled slightly. His teammate, Andrea Iannone, will start just behind him in sixth, 0.074s dividing the two riders. Both have had historically strong races in Argentina and Iannone needs to finish in the points after crashing out of the Qatar GP.

After a promising start to the weekend, Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was only able to manage seventh on the grid. This may appear as a modest result, but is a three-place improvement over his 2015 Argentina GP start.

Andrea Dovisioso
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) starts as the leading Ducati in fifth.©Motorcyclist

Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) was the top Independent Team rider once again as he grabbed eighth on the grid. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) fell at Turn 1 as he began his second flying lap The Brit ran back to the pits for his second machine immediately. He will begin the race in ninth.

Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will launch from 10th and ahead of brother Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Bradley Smith’s (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) Q2 session came to a premature end as he fell at Turn 1, starting 12th as a result. All of the top 12 were within a second of a half of each other.

Colombian rider Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) will start from 21st on the grid for his home round.

Racing begins at 16:00 Local Time for the premier class in Argentina, the race lasting 22 laps.

Argentina GP Qualifying Results
1. Marc MARQUEZ (93), Repsol Honda Team HONDA
2. Valentino ROSSI (46) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA
3. Jorge LORENZO (99) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA
4. Dani PEDROSA (26) Repsol Honda Team HONDA
5. Andrea DOVIZIOSO (4) Ducati Team DUCATI
6. Andrea IANNONE (29) Ducati Team DUCATI
7. Maverick VIÑALES (25) Team Suzuki Ecstar SUZUKI
8. Hector BARBERA (8) Avintia Racing DUCATI
9. Cal CRUTCHLOW (35) LCR Honda HONDA
10. Pol ESPARGARO (44) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA
11. Aleix ESPARGARO (41) Team Suzuki Ecstar SUZUKI
12. Bradley SMITH (38) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA
13. Loris BAZ (76) Avintia Racing DUCATI
14. Scott REDDING (45) OCTO Pramac Yakhnich DUCATI
15. Jack MILLER (43) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS HONDA
16. Stefan BRADL (6) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA
17. Eugene LAVERTY (50) Aspar Team MotoGP DUCATI
18. Michele PIRRO (51) OCTO Pramac Yakhnich
19. Tito RABAT (53) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS HONDA
20. Alvaro BAUTISTA (19) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA
21. Yonny HERNANDEZ (68) Aspar Team MotoGP DUCATI

Hector Barbera
In the eighth spot on the grid, Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) was the top Independent Team rider.©Motorcyclist
2016 Argentina GP Starting Grid
2016 Argentina GP Starting Grid©Motorcyclist