(Reuters) - Spaniard Marc Marquez put Honda on pole position for the Argentine MotoGP on Saturday after a dramatic day which resulted in the replacement of the rear tyres available to the riders.
Yamaha’s Italian great Valentino Rossi and world champion Jorge Lorenzo will also line up on the front row but will be forced to use unfamiliar rear tyres after an incident involving Britain’s Scott Redding.
The fourth free practice session had to be red-flagged and restarted twice after Redding suffered a problem with his Michelin rear tire that damaged his Ducati.
“I felt some chattering with the rear tire then something hit me. I saw pieces of the bike fly everywhere. I thought the tire had exploded and I was getting ready for a nasty crash,” said the rider.
“I managed to run off the track without falling and I feel lucky to be standing here to talk about it.”
Race organizers later said that because Redding’s tire was still being examined, both the hard and soft rear tyres available to riders would be withdrawn for the remainder of the weekend on safety grounds and replaced by four “special” rear tyres.
“Michelin’s new rear tire to be introduced from Sunday is of a harder construction, and will cope better with the hard strains and temperatures put through it -- albeit at the expense of lap times,” read a statement.
“To help teams and riders adapt to this complicated situation, race direction has decided to add an additional 30-minute warm up session for MotoGP to the morning schedule.”
Lorenzo said it was a “strange” situation that he had never encountered but that safety had to be the priority.
“Tomorrow the race will be extremely difficult,” the Spaniard said.
“We’ll have to start from zero but at least this is the same for all riders. Let’s see how it goes tomorrow morning.”
The pole was Marquez’s third in a row at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit.
The 23-year-old double world champion set his best lap of one minute 39.411 seconds early in the session and then suffered a minor crash without injury three minutes from the end that prevented him improving the time.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin/Nick Mulvenney, editing by Tony Jimenez/Andrew Both