Marc Marquez will start Sunday’s MotoGP Grand Prix of Argentina from pole position after setting the pace in qualifying despite crashing out late on.
Marquez and his Honda team suffered a difficult pre-season getting to grips with the new Michelin tires in the series, but returned to the front of the pack on Saturday at the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo.
An early Q2 lap of 1:39.411 proved to be good enough for pole, but a late crash left Marquez at risk of being beaten in the closing stages of the session.
However, Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were unable to capitalize on their rival’s mistake, finishing second and third respectively to hand Marquez his third pole in Argentina.
“I’m happy with how the bike is going and with the pace we have,” Marquez said after qualifying.
“Tomorrow it will be vital to choose our rear tire well, because with the soft I feel very good but I do not know if we can use it. We will have to wait for the decision from Michelin.
“We know what my crashes today were due to; the first was down to changing the setup but the second was because we pushed too hard. That is what happens in the qualifying session. Tomorrow we’ll give everything we have in the race.”
Michelin is set to decide on which tires can be used in tomorrow’s race overnight after final practice had to be halted twice due to concerns about its compounds following an issue for Scott Redding.
Following Marquez, Rossi and Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa finished fourth for Honda ahead of the Ducati duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. Maverick Vinales qualified seventh for Suzuki, leading Hector Barbera and Cal Crutchlow. Pol Espargaro rounded out the top 10 in Q2.
Jalek Swoll and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Malcolm Stewart sustained injury in separate crashes late last week. Stewart missed Anaheim 2 and Swoll will not mount up for the 250 East season opener in Houston on February 4.
“Spent all of yesterday in the ER and today getting surgery so haven’t been able to make an update post,” Swoll posted on Instagram. “Spiral fractured my humorous yesterday and was lucky enough to get into surgery today. Absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t show all the hard work me, [Mike Brown], [Aldon Baker], and [Joel Perez] were working on truly felt like this year was going to a big one with massive improvements we made but I guess it just wasn’t my time.”
The team announced on Instagram that Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm, sustained in a practice crash on Friday. After missing the division opener, no further timeline has been given for his return.
Swoll made eight starts in the 250 West division last season with a best finish of fifth. In 2021, he scored his first SuperMotocross win in the outdoor Pro Motocross season at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.
Stewart missed Anaheim 2 due to a practice injury. Likewise, the team did not announce a timetable for Stewart’s return.
He showed a lot of speed in the first two rounds before accidents eliminated him from contention in both rounds. He finished 16th at Anaheim 1 and 15th in San Diego, putting him in a points’ deficit that was already going to be difficult to overcome.
Stewart entered the 2023 season with a ton of confidence and believed all he needed was to stack his chips the right way to get this year’s championship.
Husqvarna is now represented by RJ Hampshire in the 250 West division and Christian Craig in 450s.
Hampshire had a rough weekend in Anaheim 2 and finished 11th in the overall standings after scoring a last place result in Race 2 with a bike sidelined by crash damage and a 13th in Race 3 after another fall.
Craig has not yet scored a top-10 on his 450 with a best of 11th at San Diego and Anaheim 2.
The news of these two injuries comes on the heels of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team losing three of their four 250 riders.
Last week, Pro Circuit Kawasaki announced Seth Hammaker would miss the season opener with a wrist injury. Almost immediately, it was announced Jo Shimoda would also miss the 250 East opener with a shoulder injury.
Chris Blose will serve as a replacement rider in the 250 East division with Carson Mumford scheduled to replace the injured Austin Forkner in the West.