Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and Movistar Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi had to contend with serious grip issues on the opening day of practice in Argentina with the Spaniard languishing down in 14th place and some 1.2s off the pace.
Lorenzo was the slowest of the YZR-M1 riders and finished each of his runs with a shake of the head while Rossi, who was seventh and only a couple of tenths faster, is slightly happier but still says there is an awful lot of work to do to compete with Honda, who locked out four of the top five positions.
“Difficult day for everybody because these were challenging conditions. The track was very dirty and in the afternoon it became better but it remained very slippery and also the temperature was very high so it was difficult to maintain the pace lap by lap,” said The Doctor.
“It felt a little bit like in the wet. You need to make the corner a little bit slower because the bike slide very much, front and rear, on the edge. So also the lean angle is less than normal and you have to ride always very smooth, also because if you make a mistake and go off line it is very slippery.
“At the end I did some good laps, but it looks like with a lack of grip we suffer a bit more with the Yamaha. It looks like the Hondas are very strong and a little bit faster than us. Not just the two factory riders, but also Miller and Crutchlow.”
Lorenzo compounded his misery by a poor tyre strategy in the second session which saw him not put in a fresh tyre for a late time attack and he slipped out of an automatic qualifying two place - a worry for the Mallorcan if the forecast rains appear for free practice three.
“We hope it won’t rain because now we are out of the top ten places to go directly to qualifying 2. “We have problems with this tarmac, which didn’t improve like in other years. It kept being very dirty and not so grippy, especially in the braking. We have some problems with this bike with this tarmac and these tyres. The only thing that we can do is try to improve the bike and be more competitive tomorrow.”