Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller’s huge gamble to switch to slicks on a drying track for the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina paid dividends, with the Australian snatching a jawdropping maiden MotoGP pole position off Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa on his final lap. In doing so, Miller became the first ever Ducati satellite rider to secure pole position.
It was a gritty and spectacular performance by Miller, who dug deep as his bike bucked, slipped and slid beneath him, especially in Turns 7 and 8 where the slicks struggled to find grip on the proper wet asphalt.
Miller said: “When you go from wets to slicks they are a lot heavier to turn, so you’ve got to get the timing right to stay in that wheel width of dry line. So just to get that flow, you’ve got to go out there and pretty much go all in straight away and try to get the heat, because these tyres don’t work otherwise.
“You’ve just got to go out there with a lot of confidence and try to muscle it as much as you can.
“My mother always said I never listened and I guess it was the bike telling me something and I wasn’t listening. I knew if I could survive that one corner the rest of the track was more or less dry so I had to try to make up as much time as I could in the first two sectors, sacrifice that one, and then in the last corner it was more or less dry.
“I was in survival mode at those points as it was so slippery. You cannot explain how slippery it is in the puddles with slick tyres, a minute bit of gas and the thing was going on its own. I was trying to survive.
“I was just hanging on. In those moments I was a passenger when you are on the wet with slick tyres anything you do you’ve got to hang on and hope to God that you make it to the other side.”
Johann Zarco was 0.212 seconds off the Australian’s time to put his Tech 3 Yamaha third on the grid and impress once again, with the Frenchman now having taken an incredible six front row starts in a row.After impressing all weekend, Tito Rabat on the Avintia Racing Ducati will launch from fourth – his best premier class qualifying by some margin and on for a provisional front row until the end of the session.
Suzuki’s Alex Rins lines up fifth after another impressive performance, while Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez couldn’t convert his superior Free Practice pace into pole and the reigning world champion starts sixth. Initially heading out on his second run to gamble on slicks, #93 gave it one lap before coming back in to switch back to wets. “Too much risk,” says a rider thinking of the Championship.
Q1 graduate Aleix Espargaro – who was the early pace setter in Q2 after eclipsing the Ducatis – heads up the third row of the grid after piloting his Aprilia to seventh. Meanwhile Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso starts eighth on the grid after progressing through from Q1 on his Ducati, with 2017 winner Maverick Viñales lining up alongside the Italian in ninth on his Yamaha.
After looking strong all weekend, LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow will aim to pick off some of the riders in front of him on Sunday when he shoots from tenth – another rider to initially gamble on slicks before heading back in for wets.
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi couldn’t give the Termas de Rio Hondo grandstands a dream Saturday as he qualified in P11 but just 0.022 back from Crutchlow, with Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone starting P12.
A breathtaking qualifying session left the Ducatis of Jorge Lorenzo, who qualified P14, and Danilo Petrucci on the other satellite Pramac bike – who ended the day P18 – with plenty of work to do.