Marc Marquez the victor in Argentina
Issues with the rear tyre of Scott Redding’s (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) Ducati during Free Practice 4 on Saturday saw a raft of changes brought in. Michelin and Race Direction were unsure about the safety of rear tyres brought to the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina, and came to the decision to reduce the race from 25 laps to 20. As Warm Up had been held in wet conditions and the race started dry, riders were required to come in on their ninth, tenth or 11th lap of the race and change to their second bike. There were therefore no concerns about fuel or tyre life, riders able to give it their all on both stints.
Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the only rider to opt for the harder rear tyre. The entire front row started with hard fronts and medium rears. With dark clouds looming overhead the race got underway, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) getting the holeshot into Turn 1. Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) got a great start but came into contact with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), forcing them both wide and dropping Pedrosa outside the top ten.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) used the power of the Ducati to hit the lead early with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) behind. The factory Ducati would head the field across the line on lap one with Rossi just behind, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) an ever-present threat. Meanwhile, Lorenzo plummeted down the field and soon found himself in sixth.
As the first lap came to a close, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Aleix Espargaro fell, both able to re-join the race. Carving his way through field, Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was up to seventh as the second lap began, slotting in behind Lorenzo and then passing him soon after.
The leading trio continually tightened, Valentino Rossi sniffing up the inside of Dovizioso at every chance he got. This opened the door for Marquez, the Spaniard sliding through on both Rossi and Dovizioso to begin lap four in the lead of the race.
Miller’s charge would be unfortunately short lived as the Australian rider fell on lap four at Turn 3.
“I felt really good in the race and the track was in decent condition despite all the earlier rain. I felt comfortable and was pushing hard to try and make a break from Lorenzo when I lost the front in turn three. It didn’t quite work out this time and it is disappointing but there are plenty of positives to take from this weekend. We move on and try to show our potential in Austin.”
All the while, Marquez pushed ahead and attempted to open a gap, the top three divided evenly by half a second. Dovizioso then found himself with teammate Iannone for company, Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) eagerly waiting to pick up the pieces of the Ducati battle.
Riders frantically glanced at their pit boards as they roared down the straight, their teams doing all they could to keep them up to date with bike change strategy. Lorenzo’s race would get even worse as with 15 laps to go he suffered yet another fall at Turn 1, ending his race. After the perfect weekend in Qatar, few imagined the World Champion would fail to finish in Argentina.
“It was a weekend to forget. We had problems during the practice sessions and finally we got a first row in qualifying and a good start, but with these conditions and wet patches in some corners I wasn‘t comfortable. I think it was my fault. As a rider I didn‘t feel comfortable enough to stay in the first group and I saw them risking so much. I made a mistake in the first corner, which was more complicated, it was the corner with more wet patches and I went in a little bit too wide on this particular lap and just lost the front and couldn‘t continue. This is racing; sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. You have to accept it and think positive, just forget this race and think about the future.”
Marquez and Rossi continued to sprint away at the front, Marquez 0.8s ahead with Rossi two and a half second in front of the all-Ducati battle for third. The gap wouldn’t stand as a distinct hint of déjà vu began to appear, Rossi rapidly closing in on Marquez. On lap nine of the race, Rossi took the lead down the back straight but Marquez responded straight away to cut back ahead.
It wasn’t only Marquez who made movements, while eyes were fixed on the leaders, Viñales was able to get ahead of the Ducati factory pair for third. Iannone and Viñales were the first riders to enter the pits on lap nine to change their bikes, Pedrosa, Baz, Barbera, Laverty and Bradl following suit as Marquez and Rossi tussled in the lead. With 11 laps to go, the pair came into the pits, Marquez just ahead as they were both forced to respect the 60km/h limit in pit lane.
Marquez would re-join the race in first position with Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) in second, as he had not yet pitted. With Rabat as a buffer, Marquez pushed as hard as he could to break away from Rossi and opened up a lead of over two seconds. The gap would open to a massive three seconds as the final nine laps of the race began, Viñales two seconds back on Rossi as the Suzuki rider was able to retain third after the bike changes.
As the leading three settled into their rhythm, Redding used the power of the Ducati GP15 to blast past Pedrosa and move into six behind the Ducati factory pair.
Rossi’s pace soon settled in the 1’41s, not fast enough to catch Marquez and ‘The Doctor’ quickly found himself fending off Maverick Viñales.
The Ducati factory pair continued to swap positions behind them, all four riders in the fight for second as Marquez’s lead grew with each lap. Rossi was able to up his pace as soon as Viñales was with him, the young up and comer giving as good as he got with the old master.
Redding encountered a technical problem with five laps to go and was forced to retire, the Brit on course for a top six finish.
Scott Redding – DNF
“It was a good race even though at the beginning I made a mistake that drove me away from the leading group. Then things went well, even the flag to flag was quick. I was going well, I felt I could take Pedrosa and I did it. Then I lost power a few laps from the end. A shame. Maybe if I haven’t committed that mistake at the beginning I could stay with the guys in front but I must say that the feeling was really ok. In Qatar we struggled a lot, here things went well, especially in terms of power. I admit that I also had some problems in qualifying in Argentina and this is an aspect I want to improve in USA.”
Viñales came under pressure from Iannone at Turn 1 as the 18th lap of the race began, unfortunately crashing out of the race.
Maverick Viñales – DNF
“I’m both very sad and very happy. Of course I’m sad with the final result, but I must be very, very proud of what we did. For the whole race I could fight at the top and also I felt I had the pace to overtake for the second place. After the bad warm-up, the race was going very well and it’s a pity I couldn’t finalise it. Unfortunately I hit a wet spot, going just a very little wider than the ideal line, and I paid the biggest price. It’s hard to accept the crash when you feel so good and feel you can really get onto the podium, but at the same time this is the proof that we have made a huge progress and we are now ready to fight for the top. My objective continues to be the realistic –top-six – but this weekend is the proof we can expect some highlights and for sure I will take any chances that will happen to me. We’re getting more and more experience, this will pay back in the short term and I’m confident that Austin will already be a good chance to fight again at the top.”
This gave Rossi a small amount of breathing room, Iannone over half a second behind his compatriot. But the cushion wouldn’t last for long, Iannone blasting up the inside of Rossi and opening the door for ‘Demso Dovi’ to come up the inside of them both.
The last lap began with Dovizioso in second as Iannone held onto the final step of the podium, Rossi hunting for a way past the powerful Ducati. Every time they ran across a straight the Ducati was able to stretch its legs, Rossi trying all he could on the brakes. Iannone did not defend; instead he began to attack his teammate Dovizioso, the pair crashing out together at Turn 12 after an overly enthusiastic move from Iannone. This pass was seen as overly optimistic by Race Direction and Iannone was handed a three place grid penalty for the race in Austin and a penalty point. Iannone, appealed the decision at the MotoGP Court of Appeal, which will meet within the next 4 following days.
Andrea Iannone – DNF
“Even though I didn’t manage to get a good start, I was doing a good race: for sure I could have been quicker in the early stages, but when I changed bikes I started again at a better pace than the riders ahead of me, and I managed to pass Rossi two or three times, until Andrea passed us again on the last lap. When I arrived at the penultimate corner, I lost the front and brought down Dovizioso in the crash. Unfortunately that’s the way it went and I am really sorry for my team, for Andrea and for everyone in Ducati because for sure a podium today with both Ducati Team riders would have been an exceptional result.”
Their incident promoted Rossi to second and saw Dani Pedrosa take a surprise third place finish. Determined to finish, Dovizioso showed true grit and determination to push his Ducati across the line for 13th place.
Marc Marquez – 1st
“I’m really happy with this win because we’ve worked very, very hard during the pre-season, in Qatar and here. Honda is working very well and I feel the support; we’re going in the same direction, and that’s the most important thing. It’s a special win, not only because it’s the first one of the year but also because with the team, we managed the situation very well, and after what happened in Australia on a similar occasion [in 2013], it was important for us to do well. I knew that the first part of the race would be tough because it was still damp in some places, and with the first bike I hadn’t felt as good as with the other one even during practice. I knew that the second part of the race was the key. I pushed 100% in the first five laps after the bike change, I opened a gap and after that I just kept the distance.”
Valentino Rossi – 2nd
“I was very happy to do the second part of the race because I was able to have a good battle with Marquez during the first part when I was strong and we started to overtake, but with the second bike I had big problems with the rear tyre, I didn‘t have any feeling and couldn‘t stop under braking. The conditions were very difficult after the rain last night and we were back where we were on Friday when we were struggling quite a lot with our bike, so these 20 points are very important and I‘m very happy for me, Yamaha and all the team because it‘s the first podium of the season, it‘s a good result. I was pushing and very close to the limit. Iannone overtook me a bit too aggressively and in that braking point his action was too strong and it was impossible to overtake so I went wide and he passed me. I said to myself: “Now what happens?” I tried to counterattack, but I didn‘t have enough grip or speed to make a move, so I stayed behind him and when I saw that Iannone tried to improve his position and go under Dovizioso, he unfortunately couldn‘t stop and took out also Dovi, so I was very lucky to arrive in second place.”
Dani Pedrosa – 3rd
“I had a good start but someone, I didn’t know who, came straight through the first turn, and I had to pick up my bike and go wide in order to avoid him. If I had kept my line, for sure I would’ve crashed, so I went way out and then found myself in the middle of the group. It was very difficult because the lines they were doing were quite crazy, and of course I lost a lot of ground there. Anyway, my pace wasn’t good, and that’s disappointing, but I tried to keep my line for the entire race. Finally, this was maybe the luckiest day of my career because many riders crashed in front of me and I was able to take third. Last year I wasn’t even here, so it’s positive to be on the podium this time. Anyway, we have to look ahead and keep working hard to improve the bike to be faster.”
Just off the podium was Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team MotoGP), the Irish rider ending fourth and as the top Independent Team rider. This is by far Laverty’s best result in MotoGP, besting Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) by 0.169s.
Eugene Laverty – 4th
“That last lap was something a bit special! I think I started it in eighth position and finished it in fourth, it was an incredible race, a race of two parts because we obviously had to come in to change bikes. The track was a little better on the second exit but I realised that I had to make up all my time in corner entry because I had no rear grip compared to the other riders, so I pushed the front tyre and was able to keep a good rhythm. After the preseason we had, I can’t ask for more than thirteen points in the second race of the season. Last year I managed nine points over the whole championship so to get thirteen in one race is great recompense for myself and for the team, who kept faith in me and let me work my way back in testing. We were off the pace after so many big knocks and it took me a while to regain my confidence but I feel we are back where we should be now and I want to thank the whole team for their efforts.”
Hector Barbera – 5th
“I’m very happy because overall, this was a really strange weekend, but finally the hard work gave us a price. This morning I felt really good on the wet during the warm up, but then the race was held in the worst conditions for me, with the asphalt half wet, half dry. Under these conditions I always feel tense and when I was on the grid I knew the race was going to be hard. Jarno, my crew chief asked me to try, because it had no sense to be on the back, I did it and it worked. I immediately realized that I was fast and I was gaining confidence lap by lap. In the first half of the race I was battling with my teammate Loris, and then with Pol. On the last lap we overtook each other several times and we went long in one corner. Laverty came into the battle and he took the fourth place in the last corner. But overall, and after a difficult weekend, this fifth place is a great result.”
Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) secured a solid sixth ahead of Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), who secured Aprilia’s best race result since returning with a factory entry.
Pol Espargaro – 6th
“The race today has been very difficult and in all honesty, I’m quite disappointed. Fighting with Barbera and Laverty is definitely not where we want to be, but at the moment we are unable to stay close to the Ducati riders. We are slower on the straight and we can’t brake late enough into the corners because of the front tyre. In addition, in the last lap Barbera broke incredibly late in turn 5 so to avoid a contact with him I had to run off track and as a result Laverty passed both of us. This is a real pity, because even if our race wasn’t great, we could still have scored an important result and finish as first independent bike. Yet, like this we leave Argentina with just a sixth position. Therefore we have to work a lot in the following days in order to be more competitive in Austin next weekend. However, the result isn’t too bad for the championship, so we have to take today’s finish as a damage limitation.”
Stefan Bradl – 7th
“This is a fantastic result for Aprilia, for the team and for me. The first race with the 2016 RS-GP wasn’t particularly lucky but today we redeemed ourselves. In these difficult circumstances we did an excellent job. Even the strategy of stopping straight away to change bikes proved to be the right way to go. We gained a few positions during the pit stop and I was able to be fast straight away with the second bike. In any case, it wasn’t easy to stay on the track. There were damp spots everywhere. I risked going down a couple of times so I decided to slow my pace in order not to crash. Also, the rear tyre on my second bike wasn’t giving me the same feeling, so I couldn’t push any harder. My compliments to Aprilia and the guys on my team. It was truly an incredible race.”
Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), completed the top ten.
Bradley Smith – 8th
“It was a very challenging race, but to score points is satisfying and the 8th position gives me more determination to finish in a better place next time. Today was tricky with the flag to flag and also with the conditions after the rain made things difficult this morning. Plus, there was a lot of dirt on the track and still some wet patches, so it goes without saying that it was tricky. When the Grand Prix started, I was a bit unlucky in the first corner and then again in turn three where I lost numerous positions because I wasn’t able to put myself in the right place. As a team, we made a big mistake because we chose a setting which we had never tried before and it really didn’t work. It was the same on both bikes and I really struggled to get any kind of feeling. I just kept telling myself that I only needed to get to the chequered flag, regardless of the position. Fortunately for us that meant 8th place which is the same as in Qatar, so we can’t be too disappointed. Still, there is a bittersweet taste in my mouth as the first satellite bike finished in fourth position and I’m sure that we could have done much better especially in these conditions. Yet, we finished and now we can go to Texas with a lot of useful information from what was a challenging weekend here and I’m sure there we will be able to put the Yamaha back to where it needs to be.”
Tito Rabat – 9th
“It has been a very complicated weekend with the changing weather and track conditions and I think it was very positive outcome for us. In every session we improved the bike and I have gained experience of riding a MotoGP bike in the wet for the first time and the two-part race also gave me the opportunity to understand the flag-to-flag scenario. It was good in the race to make a lap behind Marquez to see how he is riding and where he is strong. In the last laps I really learned a lot when I was with Crutchlow and Smith and it gave me a great chance to understand where I can improve. It is more gaining more experience with my riding technique, so hopefully I can build on this first top 10 in Austin next weekend. Finally I want to say a big thanks to my team. They are giving me great support and we are making progress, which is the most important thing.”
Alvaro Bautista – 10th
“This was a very long and difficult day, with the schedule changed several times throughout the morning and then the decision to make the compulsory pit stop. In the first part of the race I really felt good. I got off the line well and I was battling for tenth place. Just in the lap when I was supposed to make the pit stop, on the first turn I almost made contact with another rider and I couldn’t avoid crashing. The bike was still running so I restarted straight away. Then in pit lane I was braking and went from the asphalt to the damp cement and there was nothing I could do to keep from hitting the mechanic that was waiting to take my bike. I checked to see how he was quickly and then got back in the saddle. At that point I set my sights on finishing the race and the track was really treacherous. It’s a shame because before the crash I was battling with Laverty, so I could have made a play for fourth place. Let’s just say that, all things considered, it was another positive result for me and for Aprilia”.
Aleix Espargaro finished 11th after his early fall.
Aleix Espargaró – 11th
“It’s a real pity about the crash, I managed to make a very good start and my confidence was good, but unfortunately I went a little wider in a corner and hit a wet spot, therefore sliding away. Unfortunately in the crash my machine reported some damages, which made it very hard for me to get to the bike-change. In the strangeness of this race, the flag-to-flag procedure gave me the chance to get a fully-functioning machine and I could get back into the fight. Unfortunately, my feeling with the front tyre of bike number two was not as good as with my first bike, and I also started to feel pain from the crash, therefore I settled to a pace that allowed me to get to the finish and into the points. It’s a pity for the result but it’s good for the progresses we’ve made; since Qatar we found a renewed competitiveness and now we can look positively to the future. Austin will be in only one week and I hope after here we will make another step forward just like we did after Qatar.”
There were also crashes for Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) and Michele Pirro (Octo Pramac Yakhnich). Both were unharmed and Pirro remounted to finish 12th. Cal Crutchlow and Loris Baz also failed to finish the race.
Michele Pirro – 12th
I am very sorry for the mistake I made after the flag to flag. I apologize to the team because the bike was going really well. I arrived at turn 2 and I was wrong, maybe due to the cold tires, or the brakes. I went straight, the bike slipped. I managed to get back on track but lost so much time. I picked up the pace and I was going on Pedrosa times but I was too far away. I was going well and there were the conditions to do well but in the end only the result counts.
Andrea Dovizioso – 13th
“I am very disappointed because we did a great race despite it being a complicated weekend for everyone. In qualifying we went well, in the race I was running up front and in my opinion the strategy was a good one. I even changed bikes at the right moment, staying out a lap extra and making up a few seconds. In the last few laps we were in a bit of difficulty, but we managed to catch Valentino, and I tried to close all the doors during the final lap. In the penultimate corner however what everyone could see happened and I missed out on a certain second place. Looking at things positively, we were also quick here in Argentina and, if I had managed to finish the race, now we would be second in the championship just one point behind Marquez.”
Cal Crutchlow – DNF
“Obviously I’m very disappointed for the team today. I tried my best, and after a bad start I made up some places. Then into turn one I got blinded by Lorenzo, hit a wet area and went to the floor. I remounted and got up to a good pace and made up some ground to the riders in front before the bike change. After the mandatory pit-stop I pushed all the way to the finish despite some problems with the front tyre. I felt I rode well and managed to get back with the kind of pace that could have potentially been a podium today. However, I hit a white line on the last lap after passing Bradley Smith for eighth, and went down again. It is disappointing of course, but we can take some positives from the race in that we are able to be competitive and we just need to learn to manage the situation.”
Yonny Hernández – DNF
“I got a good start but crashed on the third lap, it was the same crash as Lorenzo in turn one. Seeing what happened in the race we could have finished high up. We will continue working hard and from now on turn our attention to Austin. Hopefully luck will be on our side there.”
Loris Baz – DNF
“I’m disappointed and very frustrated, because were doing a good race today and fighting to be the best private bike inside the top 10 in the first part of the race. Before changing bikes I was seventh, but then nothing was working. I almost crashed in every corner during the first two laps and I don’t really know what happened. But it had no sense to continue like this, so I went back to the garage. It is the second time in my life that I retire in a race, but I could not ride the bike in this conditions. When I watch the race I get more angry, because today we had the chance to finish fourth. The only positive is that we race in Texas next weekend.”
MotoGP Race Results
- M. MARQUEZ REPSOL HONDA TEAM 34’13.628
- V. ROSSI MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP + 7.679
- D. PEDROSA REPSOL HONDA TEAM + 28.100
- E. LAVERTY ASPAR TEAM MOTOGP + 36.542
- H. BARBERA AVINTIA RACING + 36.711
- P. ESPARGARÒ MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 + 37.245
- S. BRADL APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI + 41.353
- B. SMITH MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 + 50.709
- T. RABAT ESTRELLA GALICIA 0,0 MARC VDS + 50.983
- A. BAUTISTA APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI + 1’01.388
- A. ESPARGARÒ TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR + 1’08.868
- M. PIRRO OCTO PRAMAC YAKHNICH + 1’18.987
- A. DOVIZIOSO DUCATI TEAM + 1’33.419
- A. IANNONE DUCATI TEAM N.C. (1 laps)
- C. CRUTCHLOW LCR HONDA N.C. (1 laps)
- M. VIÑALES TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR N.C. (3 laps)
- S. REDDING OCTO PRAMAC YAKHNICH N.C. (5 laps)
- L. BAZ AVINTIA RACING N.C. (8 laps)
- J. LORENZO MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP N.C. (15 laps)
- J. MILLER ESTRELLA GALICIA 0,0 MARC VDS N.C. (17 laps)
- Y. HERNANDEZ ASPAR TEAM MOTOGP N.C. (18 laps)
MotoGP 2016 World Championship Points Standings
- Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 41
- Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 33
- Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 27
- Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 25
- Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 23
- Pol Espargarò (SPA) Monster Yamaha Tech3 19
- Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Racing 18
- Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aspar Team MotoGP 17
- Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 16
- Maverick Viñales (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar 10
- Aleix Espargarò (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar 10
- Stefan Bradl (GER) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 9
- Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 9
- Tito Rabat (SPA) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS 8
- Scott Redding (GBR) Octo Pramac Yakhnich
Back-to-back Argentina GP victories for Johann Zarco
A dry race was declared for the Moto2™ World Championship round at the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina, the second race of 2016. Conditions were not perfect as damp patches littered the circuit. All the riders lined up on slick tyres, the Moto3™ race before demonstrating this as the clear choice. Everyone chose the medium front and hard option rear tyre, a level playing field for all 29 riders on the grid.
As the lights went out it was Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) who charged into the lead as the intermediate class ran down into Turn 1. As in Qatar, the German pushed immediately but had Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) and Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) for company. Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was within touching distance as the leading quartet opened up a two second lead over the rest of the pack.
At the start of lap 2, Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) slid off at Turn 1, re-joining the race down in 29th before retiring. He has failed to finish both races so far in 2016.
Meanwhile the top four closed up, Folger maintaining his lead and perfectly navigating the wet patches out on track. The battle behind was not as calm as the likes of Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) tried to gain on the leaders, but the gap continued to grow with each lap.
With 20 laps to go, Sam Lowes struck, jumping into the lead and pushing Folger back down into the clutches of Zarco and Morbidelli. Lowes’ bike squirmed beneath him as the Brit opened up a gap, half a second clear of Folger as lap four began. Fastest sector after fastest sector came from the leading four, all pushing each other to the limit as they sparred for victory. Turn 1 saw all of the leading four to bunch together with each lap, no one able to open up a lead of more than half a second in the opening stages.
Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten) was a man on a mission, the Swiss rider quickly catching and passing Syahrin and Rins with 19 laps to go. But Syahrin upheld his reputation as a rider who shines when conditions are at their most difficult, the Malaysian able to re-pass Aegerter soon after. The pair would duel for the majority of the race.
On lap nine, Lowes was able to drop into the 1’46s and open up a lead of over half a second for the first time in the race. His rivals immediately responded on the next lap, all able to drop into the 1’46s as well. But it was Folger who upped his pace the most, the German able to produce a 1’45.726 to drag himself from a distant fourth to a fighting third as the race approached mid-distance.
After a slow start to the race, Alex Rins rallied and cut past Aegerter, the Spaniard up to sixth. He then set his eyes on Syahrin just ahead, the leading four now almost seven seconds in the lead. But Rins continued to go faster and faster, able to drop into the 1’45s and exceed the pace of the leading riders by almost a second for multiple laps in succession.
A classic slipstream manoeuvre down the back straight on lap 13 saw Johann Zarco charge into the lead. With clear track ahead of him, Zarco went about opening up a comfortable margin from Lowes, the Brit turning his attention to fending off Morbidelli as the laps ticked down. Zarco remained calm in the lead, focusing on staying as smooth as possible, a stark contrast to Lowes’ aggressive-sideways style. Just as one of the leading four thought they had their position secure, another would immediately close the gap.
Although Rins had broken away from them, Syahrin and Aegerter continued to push each other and produced a thrilling battle for sixth place. The Qatar GP race winner, Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) was unable to close down on the pair and spent much of the Argentina GP in a lonely eighth place.
Fastest laps continued into the closing stages, Alex Rins trying all he could to close down on the leading four and return to the podium, constant battling ahead giving the Spaniard hope. As the final five laps began, the leading four upped their pace; a mistake from Lowes saw the Brit drop down from second to third at Turn 7 on lap 19. This gave Zarco clear track yet again, the Frenchman not wasting his time nor his second opportunity and opened up an advantage of one second on the 20th lap, focusing on slowly growing it in the final stages.
Fastest sectors continued to flow as the leading five dropped into the 1’44s but on the 22nd lap of the race, Franco Morbidelli fell at Turn 1 as he attempted to push past Lowes. The Italian remounted but finished outside the points in 25th. Morbidelli’s fall solidified the top three, Zarco’s one-second lead unbeatable, despite Lowes’ best efforts.
Zarco returns to the top step of the podium for the first time since the Malaysian GP in 2015 and wins the Argentina GP for the second time in his career. Lowes took second, 1.347s behind the Frenchman with Jonas Folger completing the podium.
It was a valiant effort from Alex Rins as he attempted to come back from his poor start, the Spaniard reducing the gap to the podium to 3 seconds as he wrapped up the race in fourth. Dominique Aegerter would eventually get the better of Syahrin for fifth.
Hafizh Syahrin, Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten), Axel Pons (AGR Team), Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) completed the top ten. Thanks to his seventh place finish, Luthi retains the lead in the Moto2™ World Championship with 34 points, Zarco moving to second after his win.
Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) crashed out at Turn 9 on the 13th lap.
Moto2 Race Results
1 – Johann Zarco (FRA) KALEX 40’57.806
2 – Sam Lowes (GBR) KALEX +1.347
3 – Jonas Folger (GER) KALEX + 2.754
Khairul Idham Pawi (MAL) powers to sensational first win
The Moto3 World Championship round in Argentina was declared a wet race, the surface of the track somewhere in between wet and dry. All riders came to the grid on wet tyres, but some thought that slicks would be the best option. The Termas de Rio Hondo is a track with high grip levels, the situation reminiscent of the 2015 Indianapolis GP. It was tense on the grid as a number of riders weighed their potential options, all riders hiding their tyre choice until the final seconds.
Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV) was the only rider to opt for wet tyres, the rest of the field, hoping the track would improve and that they could keep heat in their tyres, chose to run with slicks.
Starting from pole position for the first time in his career, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) made a solid start. But it was Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) who shot into the lead, the only rider on the front row who started on a dry patch of tarmac. His lead would not last as Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia) shot ahead and quickly opened up an advantage of over half a second by the middle of the first lap.
But with wets fitted, Loi was in hot pursuit out the front, able to push immediately. His plan was clear: sprint ahead while the track was wet and attempt to defend his lead if the track dried. Loi tagged onto the back of Pawi as the duo charged ahead, four seconds in front of the rest. Pawi’s performance was almost unbelievable given the fact he was on slick tyres, Loi unable to stay with the Malaysian’s demonic pace.
Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) was able to break away from the chasing group as well, three seconds ahead of Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing) who was in fourth. As the pack battled away behind, Pawi set fastest lap after fastest lap, consistently three seconds faster than everyone else on track.
Championship leader Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) found himself outside the points with 18 laps remaining as he was in 17th, his title rival Brad Binder staying steady inside the top ten, involved in the battle for fourth.
With 15 laps to go, Adam Norrodin slipped past Livio Loi, the pair swapping positions for several corners as Pawi continued to set fast laps, his lead now 20 seconds. The battling of Norrodin and Loi allowed Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) to catch them, Navarro and Norrodin able to wrestle past Loi. With a third of the race gone, Loi was clearly struggling with his wets on the rapidly drying track.
However, the rain flag came out again soon after. This didn’t deter Navarro and Norrodin as the two continued to swap positions. With the race now in a more or less stable rhythm, Binder began to pick his way through the field and found himself up in fourth as the middle of the race approached.
The rain flags offered Loi no relief, the Belgian rider dropping back with each lap. All riders forged ahead, Pawi given multiple warning signs that he was near the limit as his bike bucked beneath him. Still the lap times came, Pawi setting a 1’58.127s, the fastest lap of the race at that stage, with 11 laps to go.
Positions continued to change behind him, Antonelli fighting into the points as the likes of Fenati and teammate Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) dropped outside the top 20.
The battling raged behind, Brad Binder and Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) charging into the top five. Fourth produced a stunning battle with the likes of Binder, Locatelli and Mir all trading places. Unfortunately Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) suffered a fall at Turn 7 as he attempted to stay with the other riders. Meanwhile Navarro and Norrodin were locked together, Navarro’s experience allowing him to just remain ahead until midway through the final lap.
After an almost unbelievable race, Pawi would cross the line a staggering 26.170 ahead of Jorge Navarro. Navarro and Norrodin’s battle would go down to the penultimate corner, Norrodin high siding as he tried all he could to end second. This promoted Brad Binder to third, continuing his perfect podium record in 2016.
Pawi is the first Malaysian rider to take a Grand Prix victory, doing so in just his third race on the world stage.
Norrodin stood up and pushed his bike across the line for 11th, drawing applause from all those in the crowd and pit lane.
Andrea Locatelli produced his best ever Grand Prix finish with fourth ahead of teammate Mir, who also produced his best result and the fastest lap of the race.
Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia), John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint), Jorge Martin (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3), Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) and Niccolo Antonelli completed the top ten.
Brad Binder takes the lead of the Moto3 World Championship with 36 points.
Moto3 Race Results
1 – Khairul Idham Pawi (MAL) HONDA 41’35.452
2 – Jorge Navarro (SPA) HONDA + 26.170
3 – Brad Binder (RSA) KTM +30.060