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Determined Espargaro fights to fourth on grid, career best Argentina GP qualifying

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Argentina, April 3 (IANS) Pol Espargaro showed off his incredible determination here, recovering from a complicated and compacted day to fourth on the grid.

The 2011 Moto2 World Championship winner Stefan Bradl showed steady and constant progress over the day’s running.

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Delays in the arrival of some of the MotoGP freight from the previous round saw the Argentina GP compressed into a two-day event. ‘Super Saturday’ seeing the Repsol Honda Team complete Free Practice and Qualifying in the space of just a few hours. Two hour-long Free Practice sessions were followed by the usual Q1/Q2 format.

Pol Espargaro showed his experience as he was immediately on the pace in Free Practice 1, ending the session in third place and two tenths shy of fellow Honda rider, and fastest in the morning, Takaaki Nakagami.

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Later in the day he would his first fall of the 2022 season, coming off at Turn 1 during Free Practice 2, and leading to a difficult afternoon session which resulted in the #44 would having to fight through Q1. MotoGP’s unique Saturday schedule in Argentina meant there was no Free Practice 3 to attempt to further improve his time.

Working with just a single bike as a result of the crash, Espargaro would not be stopped in Q1 and ended the session as the fastest rider despite an incredible tank slapper down the main straight. Just a single run was all Espargaro had during Q2, but he and his team pulled a rabbit out of the hat to secure the head of the second row with a 1’38.165 – only 0.046s shy of the front row. A moment at Turn 1 on his fastest lap is what Espargaro feels cost him a top-three birth.

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Fourth place is Espargaro’s best grid position at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit, improving dramatically on his previous best of tenth in 2016. The Repsol Honda Team have won three of the six races held in Termas de Rio Hondo.

Stefan Bradl produced a day of steady improvements upon his return to racing the Repsol Honda Team RC213V. A 1’40.346 in FP1 would improve by over a second to set a 1’39.487 in Q1 for 14th in the session. The Honda HRC Test Rider is aiming for a productive race on Sunday, gathering more important data for the Repsol Honda Team.

Pol Espargaro said, “Mentally it was a stressful day; I crashed, went through Q1 to Q2, then was battling for the front row. Already this morning it was set to be a busy day and I did not help this, but my team worked really hard. In the last moment we found the setup for Qualifying, a shame we only had one tyre for Q2 but we were still able to make a good lap for fourth. I had a moment coming into Turn 1 which I think finally cost us the front row.

“The track changed a lot over the course of the day so we had to adapt a lot and we were coming stronger with it. Warm Up will be important to see where we are, there will be a lot of rivals tomorrow but we’re ready to fight.”

–IANS

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