Husqvarna IntactGP’s Ayumi Sasaki established himself as the rider to chase on the opening day of Moto3 action at Termas de Rio Hondo after topping both free practice sessions on Friday.
Having already come out fighting in P1 to lead the way with a 1m 49.804secs, the Japanese rider slashed 1.3secs off his own benchmark in P2 to hold onto his place at the head of the timesheets around the Argentinian circuit.
With the vast improvement in time between sessions a measure of the circuit’s evolution from treacherously dusty conditions in the morning to much grippier in the afternoon.
Commanding a comfortable 0.2secs margin over second place man Diego Moreira, Sasaki went on to suggest he has more speed in reserve after beginning on a revolution that was on course to break the lap record, only to be forced to sit up before completing it.
Moto3 Portimao podium winner Moreira continued his positive start to the 2023 season in second place, heading off the Leopard Racing Hondas of Jaume Masia and Tatsuki Suzuki.
Like Sasaki, Stefano Nepa showed flashes of lap record pace through the splits at times en route to fifth fastest, ahead of Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold), Kaito Toba (SIC) and David Alonso (GasGas Aspar).
After crashing out of the Portimao season opener on the opening lap, Britain’s Scott Ogden enjoyed a confidence boosting start to his weekend in ninth, giving him a strong shot at securing a Q2 passage, particularly if the risk of rain materialises on Saturday morning.
Elsewhere, Portimao Moto3 race winner Daniel Holgado ended the day in tenth place, just ahead of fellow podium visitor David Munoz in 12th.
Ogden’s VisionTrack Racing team-mate Josh Whatley suffered a fall at T13, consigning him to 28th and last on the timesheets