Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa topped the opening MotoGP free practice in Argentina, coming from virtually nowhere to stick in a 1’40.303 to fend off a challenge from Britain’s Cal Crutchlow with the Ecstar Suzuki of Andrea Iannone in third.
Pedrosa was the only rider to use Michelin’s medium compounds front and rear to set his time, which is some three seconds off the current circuit best set by his team-mate Marc Marquez - who uncharacteristically used soft tyres front and rear for his whole session for sixth-best time.
Crutchlow shod his LCR Honda with a soft front when he usually used a hard and matched that with a hard rear while Iannone, who had led with a 1’40.422 with ten minutes left, used the same combination as Crutchlow. The Italian did up his pace to a 1’40.386 but was knocked back to third in the final analysis.
Johann Zarco bagged fourth place with a soft/medium combination while Jack Miller took his satellite Pramac Ducati to fifth place, a tenth slower than Zarco’s 1’40.514 on the Monster Yamaha.
Valentino Rossi was the lead factory Yamaha rider in seventh place, one ahead of championship leader Andrea Dovizioso in eighth. Ducati team-mate Jorge Lorenzo spent a lot of time in his garage shaking his head as he ended in ninth, but was less than a tenth slower than the Italian.
Danilo Petrucci slipped off his Pramac Ducati but re-bounded from the front-ender to finish in tenth, one ahead of rookie Hafizh Syharin on the second Monster Yamaha. Aleix Epargaro took 12th with Maverick Vinales narrlowly avoiding being torpedoed by an errant Marquez at session end.
Bradley Smith and Scott Redding completed the top 15 and are a second off the pace with Alex Rins down in 21st.