The MIE Racing Honda team is particularly motivated to do well at this penultimate championship round in San Juan Villicum, Argentina, considering it is taking place at rider Leandro Mercado’s home track.

Local man ‘Tati’, who hails from Cordoba, is keen to do well in front of his home crowd and worked hard with his technicians throughout this first day to find solutions that will allow him to be strong and consistent in the weekend’s three races. The morning’s first free practice ran in cool but dry conditions and saw the Argentinian set a best of 1’40.321 to place fifteenth.

By the end of session two, almost all riders had improved on their earlier references. Mercado was also able to go a fraction of a second quicker, to finish eighteenth overall with a time of 1’40.275, although he and the team had hoped for more on day one following more positive performances during recent race Fridays.

Private: Leandro Mercado 36

P18 1'40.076

"Today I honestly wished for something more. Obviously in FP1, the track conditions were not perfect after the sandstorm yesterday afternoon, but things got better throughout the session and my initial sensations were not bad. Then in the afternoon the track was clean, but I nevertheless struggled more than I expected. At the moment, I'm finding it hard to really push and so I'm losing especially when braking with the bike at an angle, which is something you have to do a lot here. Having said that, there have been occasions when we’ve been able to improve over the weekend and so I hope we can do that again, especially here in Argentina."