Round Two – Argentina
With Boris Mihailovic
In terms of the championship, the Argentine round can be whittled down to: “Marquez qualified on pole, led the race from start to finish, lapping a second faster than everyone else, then bathed in supermodels, the end”.
But of course it was much more interesting than that – even though it was all happening sometimes as much as 12-seconds behind the World Champion, who responded to the frantic waving of Alberto Puig on the pit-wall to slow down, and then ended up winning by almost 10 seconds anyway.
Into Turn One off the start it was Marquez, Dovizioso, Jack Miller and Valentino Rossi, who had shown some admirable pace in Qualifying to get himself into fourth on the grid.
True to form, Vinales turned his second spot on the grid into rubbish, managed to squeeze into fourth by the end of Lap One then drifted back into a less stressful eighth, where he had to work hard for most of the race until Morbidelli put him out of his misery two laps before the end by ramming him.
Lorenzo, who tried very hard to wedge his still-healing body into 12th on the grid, pressed all the wrong buttons on his new bike, bogged the start, and was racing Plastic Iannone for dead-last by the end of the first lap.
Crutchlow also fluffed the start by getting all twitchy and was awarded a ride-through penalty. The rules say you don’t move when the red lights come on. Crutchlow says he was “balancing”, but the footage shows he was rolling forward before the lights went out. I understand his team is still looking for bits of the pit garage he threw into the river after the race.
Miller did great, and showed some serious flair at the beginning of the race, passing Rossi and Vinales, while Morbidelli was also noticed by people who notice these things.
All eyes were on Rossi as early as Lap Three, by which stage Marquez was more than three-seconds clear, and the cameras only returned to the Spaniard maybe three times during the entire race. Rossi and Dovizioso were all the rage.
Miller engaged with Morbidelli in some serious bump-and-grind action, and bit by bit, the two Italians ahead of them started to eke out a gap.
It was not a big gap, but when the top 20 riders are separated in Practice by about a second, a gap’s a gap.
And so began the race for second place.
Dovi’s Ducati would hose Rossi down the back straight and the main straight, but Rossi was demonstrably faster through some of the corners and would block-pass Dovi like a guillotine whenever he saw a chance.
Petrucci moved himself up to engage with Miller and Morbidelli, but Morbidelli wasn’t having any of that and shoved his rookie sass right back at the hairy one.
The commentators observed the “new” Vinales was much like the old Vinales. I agreed, and wished that one day he would be like the old old Vinales.
Rins was having a great day out on his Suzuki and got past Miller for sixth, while Petrucci and Morbidelli slapped at each other for fourth and fifth.
Marquez was now more than 11-seconds clear.
Rins moved into fifth, which was hugely impressive after having started in 16th place. His telemetry indicates he’s very sparing on his tyres, and he’s clearly got his head around the GSX-RR.
Towards the end of the race Rossi had wedged himself onto Dovizioso’s back wheel and was stalking him with intent. His Yamaha did not have the straight-line grunt the Ducati had, so it was going to come down to testicle-size, rat-cunning, and block-passing – all of which The Doctor has Masters degrees in.
And he and Dovi are old rivals. And because they are old rivals, Rossi has always had the mental edge on his Italian mate. As good as Dovi is, and he is very good, Rossi has had his measure time and again when they are on relatively equal machinery.
And so it came to pass – if you’ll pardon the pun. A block pass at Turn Seven on the last lap and Rossi sailed into a well-deserved second-place ahead of Andrea.
Miller was an endless two-seconds behind Dovi for a solid fourth, which he would have been defending against Rins if the race was a lap or two longer.
Nakagami managed to get gapped by Petrucci for seventh, while Quartararo has also indicated his future intentions by coming eighth.
The unforgiving Termas Di Rio Hondo gravel welcomed Tito Rabat, Morbidelli, Vinales, Abraham and Mir.
Crutchlow, despite his ride-through penalty, maced Iannone (who finished last), Syahrin, Bagnaia, and Zarco, who seems to have given up on life.
Lorenzo lumbered home in 12th but has promised to do better by the time they all get to Spain.
We can only hope.
Because Marquez will win at the Circuit of the Americas next round. It’s a given. The others might just as well sit it out.
I’m kidding. They won’t. And that’s why I love them.
2019 MotoGP – Round Two – Argentina
|1.||Marquez M.||Repsol Honda||41:43.688|
|2.||Rossi V.||Movistar Yamaha||+9.816|
|3.||Dovizioso A.||Ducati Team||+10.530|
|4.||Miller J.||Alma Pramac Racing||+12.140|
|5.||Rins A.||Team Suzuki Ecstar||+12.563|
|6.||Petrucci D.||Ducati Team||+13.750|
|7.||Nakagami T.||LCR Honda||+18.160|
|8.||Quartararo F.||Petronas Yamaha SRT||+20.403|
|9.||Espargaro A.||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+25.292|
|10.||Espargaro P.||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+25.679|
|11.||Oliveira M.||KTM Tech3 Racing||+25.855|
|12.||Lorenzo J.||Repsol Honda||+27.497|
|13.||Crutchlow C.||LCR Honda||+31.398|
|14.||Bagnaia F.||Alma Pramac Racing||+32.893|
|15.||Zarco J.||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+33.372|
|16.||Syahrin H.||KTM Tech3 Racing||+35.545|
|17.||Iannone A.||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+38.238|
|DNF||Vinales M.||Movistar Yamaha||DNF|
|DNF||Morbidelli F.||Petronas Yamaha SRT||DNF|
|DNF||Mir J.||Team Suzuki Ecstar||DNF|
|DNF||Abraham K.||Reale Avintia Racing||DNF|
|DNF||Rabat T.||Reale Avintia Racing||DNF|
MotoGP Championship Points
|1.||Marquez Marc||Repsol Honda Team||45|
|2.||Dovizioso Andrea||Ducati Team||41|
|3.||Rossi Valentino||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||31|
|4.||Rins Alex||Team Suzuki Ecstar||24|
|5.||Petrucci Danilo||Ducati Team||20|
|6.||Crutchlow Cal||LCR Honda||19|
|7.||Nakagami Takaaki||LCR Honda||16|
|8.||Miller Jack||Alma Pramac Racing||13|
|9.||Espargaro Aleix||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||13|
|10.||Espargaro Pol||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||10|
|11.||Vinales Maverick||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||9|
|12.||Quartararo Fabio||Petronas Yamaha SRT||8|
|13.||Mir Joan||Team Suzuki Ecstar||8|
|14.||Lorenzo Jorge||Repsol Honda Team||7|
|15.||Oliveira Miguel||KTM Tech3 Racing||5|
|16.||Morbidelli Franco||Petronas Yamaha SRT||5|
|17.||Iannone Andrea||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||2|
|18.||Bagnaia Francesco||Alma Pramac Racing||2|
|19.||Zarco Johann||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||2|
|20.||Syahrin Hafizh||KTM Tech3 Racing||0|
|21.||Abraham Karel||Reale Avintia Racing||0|
|22.||Rabat Tito||Reale Avintia Racing||0|
|23.||Smith Bradley||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||0|