Monster Yamaha riders Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi could only manage tenth and 18th places as they battled wheelspin during a dirty opening practice in Argentina.

But the improving track and set-up changes allowed the pair to end the day third and sixth respectively, both within 0.260s of leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati).

"The start was a bit tricky today, because this morning the riders suffered from wheelspin, especially Maverick. We had to invest quite a chunk of track time in FP1 and FP2 to tackle this problem but managed to make both riders feel comfortable by the end of FP2," said team manager Massimo Meregalli.

"This track is completely different from Qatar, so the surface is very different and the tyres are working in a different way, so we had to record all the information from today and work really hard, because the bike isn't at its best yet," explained Vinales.

"The main thing is the rear grip. In Qatar we had a lot of grip, but here we're struggling. We need to reconfirm everything, trying to work things out. Let's see.

"We did a great job today, we improved so much compared to this morning, but our rhythm needs to be in the mid-1'39s if we want to be able to win the race. For sure, I will try my best for pole tomorrow. We're going to work really hard and push for it."

Rossi was satisfied with the final Friday outcome.

"We worked well with the bike and tyres and I feel good. We worked on the pace with used tyres and when I put the soft tyre in the afternoon, I was able to improve my lap time a lot. I am in P6 but we are all very close so it's a good first day.

"Now we have to work to try to improve the grip, and to try to be faster, and we'll see. But the first impression is positive."

Yamaha is seeking its first podium of the season this weekend, with Rossi fifth - but only 0.6s from victory - and Vinales seventh (+2.5s) in Qatar.

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