NTS RW Racing GP riders Bo Bendsneyder and Jesko Raffin made a promising start at the first day of the Argentinian Grand Prix. In the combined standings of the first two practices Bendsneyder found himself in twelfth, giving him (provisionally) direct access to Q2 on Saturday. Raffin finished the day in 23rd.
The conditions at Termas de Rio Hondo could in no way be compared to those in Losail three weeks ago, so everybody had to start from zero, more or less. Especially for Jesko Raffin the first day was needed to adjusting the settings of the NTS. The Swiss rider once again stands in for the injured Steven Odendaal. The bacterial infection in the South African’s foot is under control but the bone needs a second operation.
The circumstances at the Argentinian track were good, with both practices run in dry conditions and nice, sunny weather with an air temperature of 24 degrees Celsius. Both Bo Bendsneyder and Jesko Raffin had a good start in FP1, with the Dutchman in the top 10 for most of the session before dropping back. Bendsneyder and his crew chief Hans Spaan decided not to do a time attack yet and save the softer tyre for FP2. On the softer tyres Bendsneyder set a time of 1.43.772, just 0.420 off the pace of Tom Lüthi’s provisional pole position time.
In the meantime the team worked to adjust the seating position for Bendsneyder and the balance of the bike. In the second practice the same changes were made to Raffin’s bike. These too worked out well as the Swiss improved his lap time to 1.44.522 (+1.169).
“As Jesko didn’t have that much time on the bike yet, and only has been to Qatar which has a much different character, we had quite some work to adjust the settings of his bike to make him feel comfortable”, RW Racing GP team manager Jarno Janssen explained. “Changing the seating position and balance of Bo’s bike worked well and so we tried it on Jesko’s bike as well. In my opinion it has been a good day for both our riders and we worked well to improve their bikes. We’ve used the both sessions well. The weather outlook for tomorrow is that there is a chance of rain, so we are prepared for that.”
Bo Bendsneyder (12th – 1.43.772): “We had a good first session and in FP2 we continued on the same hard tyre and immediately I was faster. Before the time attack with the softer tyre we also made some adjustments to improve braking. It all worked out very well, so I’m quite satisfied so far. But the differences are small and I think it will take some extra effort tomorrow – when it stays dry – to stay inside the top 14 and have direct access to Q2, which is our first goal.”
Jesko Raffin (23rd – 1.44.522): “We did a good job, working on the settings of the bike and on race setup with the balance, the tyres and so on. We made several changes, with a good outcome. The position is not that great yet, but I believe that with the changes we’ve made, we can make a big step tomorrow. I’m looking forward to that.”