Photography by Gold & Goose
The new Termas de Rio Honda circuit continues to get faster. And so does Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, the World Champion again leading the way in Free Practice 3 to set himself up as the favorite once again to earn pole position for the Red Bull Grand Prix of Argentina later today.
Like he did in Qatar and Texas, Marquez has led every session in Argentina as he continues to lower his lap times each and every time he takes to the track. He was fast right out of the gate in FP3, got to the top after about five minutes and basically stayed at the top throughout, finally bettering his best lap near the end of the session when he ripped off a 1:39.171 on the 2.97-mile track.
The others are inching closer, however, and now there are eight riders within a second of the undefeated for 2014 championship leader.
Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa leads the chasers, moving to second with four minutes to go in the session that decides the top 10 riders who go directly to Qualifying 2 – and the Spanish veteran is just .159 of a second behind his teammate Marquez.
Then came Valentino Rossi, the Movistar Yamaha rider jumping up to third at the end of the session with a lap .287 of a second slower than Marquez.
Aleix Espargaro rode the Open class NGM Forward Racing Yamaha to fourth with Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso turning in his best lap late in the session to jump from outside the top 10 to fifth.
LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl ended the session sixth with Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo falling to seventh after challenging Marquez early in the session from second place. Lorenzo’s best lap is .611 of a second behind Marquez.
Andrea Iannone put the Pramac Ducati into the top 10 in eighth, besting the Go&Fun Honda of Alvaro Bautista and the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha of Pol Espargaro. Espargaro had a big crash early in the session in the final corner, leaving him with a bloodied pinkie finger on his left hand, but he was able to bounce back to move into the final direct transfer spot to the Q2 session.
Espargaro’s teammate Bradley Smith held the 10th spot until the end of the session when Iannone jumped up to eighth, dropping the young Brit out of the top 10 and into Q1.
American’s Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden ended the session in 13th and 14th, respectively.
Free Practice 3 Results
Argentinian Grand Prix
April 26, 2014
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1:39.171
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:39.330
3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:39.458
4. Aleix Espargaro (Yamaha) 1:39.573
5. Andrea Dovizisio (Ducati) 1:39.757
6. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:39.771
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:39.782
8. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1:40.050
9. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:40.223
10. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 1:40.422
13. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:40.950
14. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:41.142