Marc Marquez believes he has a solid opportunity to capitalise on the fragmented practice and qualifying sessions in Argentina to stake his claim for victory in Sunday's second round.

The reigning MotoGP champion secured his fourth straight pole at the Termas de Rio Honda circuit on a wet but drying track by seven-tenths from surprise package Karel Abraham, who narrowly edged out Cal Crutchlow.

Marquez won in Argentina in 2014 and 2016 and, although he feels the race could be something of a lottery, the Repsol Honda rider is confident of his prospects.

"Since we arrived here in 2014 I feel quite good on this race track. For my riding style it is quite good and I can manage well, but this year it looks like it is much more bumpy and this makes it more difficult to find the correct set-up," he said.

"Anyway, this time I did the pole position, but on wet. In dry, still we are not ready to fight for the pole position but the most important thing is that the rhythm is quite good. For tomorrow I have a good feeling to fight for the podium and why not for the victory."

Marquez rates Qatar winner Maverick Vinales as the pre-race favourite on the Movistar Yamaha, but says a lack of consistency in the weather during practice and qualifying means the outcome is something of an unknown.

"For me, Vinales - maybe Cal! - but for me Vinales has a really good pace," said Marquez, asked in the qualifying press conference who he felt was the most likely race winner.

"Then the Ducati bikes can keep a lot the rhythm for a result and the Yamaha bikes are quite strong, but also Cal and Dani [Pedrosa]. But we don't know because we cannot see the rhythms, we cannot work on the tyre life; everybody will choose different rear tyres and front tyres. It will be tricky but the most important thing is to concentrate in our box and try to choose the best option for us.

"Even though I'm in the pole position I hope for a dry session because need to work on the bike, on the set-up, and try different things. But OK, FP4 was wet and just before I feel really good on the bike. I stayed out to try to understand this new character engine that we have this year in wet conditions because we didn't try."

Marquez said it was difficult to make comparisons between this year's RCV and last year's bike at this particular circuit, and instead claimed the track conditions were having the biggest impact on his pace - levelling the playing field in terms of the Honda's weak point in acceleration.

"It is a little bit difficult to compare well, but still with the electronics we are not 100 per-cent on wet, also on dry, but the main difference is the track last year. In wet conditions the other manufacturers cannot use the torque on exit, the acceleration and for that reason we are faster, because we are using the same acceleration more or less," he said.

"I understand well the way to ride the bike a little bit and then for qualifying practice we changed the set-up and the lap time was really good. Tomorrow looks like it will be a dry race and I think still we need to improve some points but it will be crucial to decide the correct tyres, especially front and also rear."

Marquez, who almost came a cropper as he attempted a practice start in the wet, revealed he is losing up to two-tenths at turn 2.

"I hope that tomorrow the race is in dry and warm-up is in dry conditions too because then we will have time to try a different setting and different things on the bike. Overall the general feeling is not so bad and also the performance is OK, but I'm losing on T2 a lot - two or three tenths a lap - but I think we can improve with the set-up but also I can improve my riding style there," he said. "We will see but apart from that, I feel competitive in the rest of the circuit."

Reflecting on his dramatic practice start near-miss, he added: "It was the first time that I start in rain conditions with this bike and I did like a normal dry start and something went wrong there. It was really close but OK, I will be more careful tomorrow!"

Cal Crutchlow - Career Profile by Crash_net


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