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Argentina MotoGP | Vinales leads Aprilia 1-2 lockout as Quartararo struggles

Maverick Vinales led Aprilia Racing team-mate Aleix Espargaro in Practice 1 for the Argentinian MotoGP, round two for the 2023 MotoGP World Championship at Termas de Rio Hondo, as the Italian manufacturer sent rivals a clear warning of its pace.

Having kicked off his season in fine style just days earlier with a fourth MotoGP podium in Aprilia colours, Vinales maintained his momentum straight out of the box in Argentina as he regularly rebounded to the top of the timesheets over the course of the 45min session.

Reaching the summit decisively with two minutes remaining after posting a 1m 39.207s lap, it was enough to hold off fellow RS-GP rider Espargaro by 0.2s.


Aprilia’s positive start to the weekend comes 12 months after Espargaro led the manufacturer to a landmark maiden MotoGP win for both himself and the team.

With a repeat performance seemingly on the cards this weekend, Aprilia’s closest competition in P1 came from Jorge Martin, who led the Ducati challenge in third place, and Takaaki Nakagami, the LCR Honda rider making his first appearance in the upper echelons of the MotoGP timesheets this year following a lacklustre opener in Portimao last week.

Alex Marquez led a trio of Ducatis in fifth place, the Gresini rider heading up Johann Zarco in sixth and Luca Marini in sixth, while Franco Morbidelli enjoyed the increasingly rare honour of being Yamaha’s fastest representative in a solid eighth place.

However, if the session will act a fillip for Morbidelli, it was in stark contrast for 2021 MotoGP World Champion Fabio Quartararo, who looked out of sorts on the M1 en route to a lowly 15th fastest.

It means the Frenchman is the highest profile rider currently outside of a provisional Q2 spot ahead of the decisive P2 session later today.

As it stands, Ducati duo Marco Bezzecchi and championship leader Pecco Bagnaia occupy the last remaining Q2 slots, which could prove crucial should the forecast threat of rain materialise in time for the hour-long P2 session later today.

Together with Quartararo, other riders seeking gains in P2 include Alex Rins - who was 11th quickest despite a tumble - both KTM Factory riders Jack Miller (14th) and Brad Binder 16th) and Repsol Honda’s Joan Mir, the 2020 MotoGP World Championship languishing in 18th and last.

Indeed, this weekend’s Argentinian MotoGP will go ahead with a depleted 18-strong field following the withdrawals of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), Miguel Oliveira (RNF Aprilia), Pol Espargaro (GasGas Tech3) and Enea Bastianini (Ducati Corse) due to injury.

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