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MotoGP Argentina: Aprilia leaves rivals trailing again, Espargaro pips Vinales

Aprilia Racing consolidated its status as the team to beat coming into qualifying for the Argentinian MotoGP at Termas de Rio Hondo after once more locking down a 1-2 result in Practice 2, this time with Aleix Espargaro leading Maverick Vinales.

A venue that seems perfectly suited to the RS-GP, Aprilia’s punchy 1-2 knockout results in Friday’s two practice sessions come 12 months after the Italian manufacturer celebrated its first - and so far only - MotoGP victory at the South American venue.

Indeed, the odds of a repeat result this year have now been slashed on the back of a formidable showing all day from the Spanish pair..


After Vinales led the way in P1, Espargaro took over at the top in P2, the MotoGP veteran fastest of all at the flag with a 1m 38.518 lap, a comfortable +0.162s clear of his team-mate in second place.

Though forced to play second fiddle to its fierce Italian rivals, the typically substantial Ducati contingent remains well poised just behind with Desmosedici bikes occupying the next five positions.

Led by VR46 Racing duo Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini in third and fourth, Johann Zarco completed the top five, with team-mate Jorge Martin in seventh place, the Pramac duo sandwiching championship leader Pecco Bagnaia on the sole factory Ducati Corse.

While the presence of Aprilia and Ducati in Q2 played to the formbook, it was left to some of the more unfamiliar Q2 faces to fly the flag for the Japanese challenge from Yamaha and Honda, with Franco Morbidelli, Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Rins holding out in eighth, ninth and tenth.

Comfortably out-pacing Yamaha team-mate Fabio Quartararo once again in P2, Morbidelli’s eighth fastest time means he will start a MotoGP race on one of the front four rows for only the fifth time since the start of the 2022 MotoGP season.

Nakagami and Rins, meanwhile, proved a strong united front for the satellite LCR Honda team to both crack the top ten and put a spotlight on sole works Repsol Honda counterpart Joan Mir down in 13th.

Having struggled to get in the mix during P1, Quartararo’s woes continued into P2, the 2021 MotoGP World Champion facing a fight to secure one of the two vacant spots for Q2 in the preceding Q1 session.

One saving grace, however, is a depleted field - reduced from 22 to 18 riders by injuries - means fewer rivals to conquer.

Even so, he’ll have his work cut out against Portimao standouts Brad Binder and Jack Miller on the factory KTMs, plus Gresini Ducati’s Alex Marquez and Mir on the Repsol Honda.

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