Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa were unable to draw any meaningful conclusions from the first MotoGP free practice session in Argentina, which saw the fastest time some 4.6 seconds off the circuit record.
The 2.9-mile Termas de Rio Honda track, situated in the north of Argentina, has not been used for a racing event since December and thus was some way off its ideal condition. Dust was visibly kicked up and several riders complained of a lack of feeling from the front tyre as a result.
“The front was a big problem,” explained Marquez at lunchtime on Friday. “There was a lot of closing feelings but I think it is the track conditions. Here I didn't try [the hard front tyre] – that was working for me in Qatar - because I know the track wasn't good. The front is critical. We must wait until the track improves.”
One of the hazards of riding on such a dusty surface was the dangers of drifting off the narrow racing line, something which could have difficult consequences , as explained by Pedrosa.
“The track was very, very, very dirty,” said the 30-year old, who ended the morning in seventh. “At the end from the first to the last laps you can feel some difference in the grip, especially going out of the turn. If you miss the line you are getting used to the angle, to the grip on the line, then if you miss you still do the same things and the track is more critical.
“It's important to stay on the line and to see how the track improves before the afternoon. The bike was OK in general. I tried two different settings. We will try again this afternoon but we must be a little bit quick.”
The top ten was headed by Andrea Dovizioso at the close of the 45 minutes, with Yonny Hernandez placing third. Marquez, who ended the morning second fastest, was keen to point out that the top places may be different as the track is cleaned up.
“It was much more slippery than last year for example,” he continued. “The only positive thing was the wear of the tyres was OK. About the rest we can't say a lot, the track was really slippery. We just tried something with the electronics but we were not pushing. We could see the main issue was S2 with the back straight. It's there that we lose more. At the moment we start like Qatar and we start working.
“The feeling is good. The thing is we are four or five seconds behind the correct lap times. We will see when the track improves it will change a lot of things. These positions are not the real positions.”
Such is the nature of the current MotoGP free practice scheduling the top ten riders from FP1-3 automatically qualify for Q2. However, as rain is forecasted for Saturday, riders will need to push for a time in this afternoon's second free practice.
“It can be raining tomorrow,” said Pedrosa. “We need to make sure we can test the tyres and have some good lap times to know where the setting needs to be.”