MotoGP heads across the border to Argentina
The Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit
The circuit is about six kilometres from the spa town, from which it takes its name, in the province of Santiago del Estero in the northern part of the country. It was built on 150 hectares of land and officially inaugurated in May 2008 with a round of the Argentinean Touring Car Championship. In 2012 it underwent a series of interventions to modernize the facilities and lengthen the circuit with the aim of turning it into the most modern, safest and spectacular in South America. It is 4.806 metres in length, has 14 corners (five left and nine right), and the main straight measures just over one kilometre.
- Circuit Record: Pedrosa (Honda – 2014), 1’39.233 (174.3 km/h)
- Fastest Lap: Marquez (Honda – 2014), 1’37.683 (177.1 km/h)
- Top Speed: Bradl (Honda – 2014), 334.1 km/h
- Race Distance: 25 laps (120.2 km)
- Race Start: 4 pm local time (CET 21.00)
- 2014 Results
Podium: 1st Marquez (Honda), 2nd Pedrosa (Honda), 3rd Lorenzo (Yamaha)
Pole Position: Marquez (Honda), 2’02.773 (161.6 km/h)
Fastest Lap: Marquez (Honda), 1’37.683 (177.1 km/h)
Marc Marquez heads to the Termas de Rio Honda circuit in Argentina full of confidence after his emphatic victory in the US.
Next stop for the FIM MotoGP World Championship is the Gran Premio Red Bull de la República Argentina. The MotoGP paddock returns to the South American country for the second year in a row, and the 12th time in total.
The first Argentinean GP took place in 1961 in Buenos Aires; the first time that a Grand Prix had taken place outside of Europe. The MotoGP World Championship returned to the country for the first time in ten years in 2014 at the 4.8 km Termas de Rio Hondo, making Argentina the 18th country to host a MotoGP race since the category was introduced in 2002.
Marc Marquez will head to Argentina in buoyant mood after easing to victory at the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas. The win in Austin was the 20th of his fledgling career, and equalled the number achieved by two-time 500cc World Champion Freddie Spencer.
Marc Marquez – “After a good weekend in Austin, I am feeling relaxed and confident again. Now we travel straight to Argentina for the next round and we have a good momentum which I hope to continue this coming weekend. Argentina is a circuit that I like and it’s the second year we visit Termas de Río Hondo. We had many fans there last year so I hope they all come to support us again this year and we can put on a good show for them.”
The reigning MotoGP World Champion has even more reasons to be confident as his Repsol Honda team completed a 1-2 last year at the circuit, with Marquez leading home his teammate Dani Pedrosa ahead of the Movistar Yamaha’s of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. This year his teammate for the Argentine MotoGP will be Hiroshi Aoyama, as Dani Pedrosa recovers from surgery to relieve severe arm pump problems that have been continually plaguing the diminutive Spaniard.
Hiroshi Aoyama – “The weekend in Austin was complicated due to the weather but we learned a lot. Now we travel to Argentina which is one of my favourite tracks and I had a good race there last year. The track isn’t easy – it has a long straight and many tight corners but I believe the Honda RC213V will work well there. I have a strong teammate to learn from and Dani’s team are all helping me a lot so my confidence is high and I hope to improve from last weekend.”
Rossi flies to Argentina as the current leader in the Championship standings, adding his third placed finish in Austin to the victory in Qatar. As it stands, he is 1 point ahead of Andrea Dovizioso who made it two second-placed finishes in a row for his Ducati Team in the US.
Valentino Rossi – “I’m happy to go to Argentina because I like the track. We hope that there will be a better condition of the tarmac compared to last year, because the track and the lay out are good. It‘s also not a bad circuit for our YZR-M1, but first we take a few days of rest and then we‘ll try to be focused and prepared for the race.”
The new Ducati GP15 proved that it could be competitive at a completely different track in Austin, having fought for the race win in Qatar, although the Factory Ducati rider did not have a great time in Argentina last year, finishing down in 9th.
His teammate Andrea Iannone actually enjoyed more success last year at the same race, as he finished 6th on the Pramac Racing Ducati, and he will be looking to do even better this year having made the step up to the Factory team for 2015.
For both Ducati Team men, the aim in this race will be to confirm the competitive level of the GP15, while continuing development and set-up work on the new project.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 2nd (40 points) – “Last year I had a difficult race in Argentina, because we had a few technical problems, I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike and the track was very dirty, so the whole weekend didn’t go well. Now however the situation is different, because the GP15 has already reached a good competitive level and I am sure that also at Termas we can fight for the leading positions, like we did in the first two races of this year.”
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 4th (27 points) – “Termas is a track that I like a lot, but last year in the race I had tyre and grip problems, also because the track was new. I don’t know in what condition we will find the track surface this year, but all things considered in 2014 I did a good race and was the first Ducati rider to reach the chequered flag, in sixth place: as a result, I am optimistic again this time, and I hope to do a good race with my GP15 also in Argentina.”
Jorge Lorenzo showed that even bronchitis couldn’t stop him in Austin, as he fought back to finish 4th despite being ill throughout the weekend. While his two fourth-placed finishes may not have been how he dreamt of starting the season, after the helmet issue in Qatar and his physical condition in Austin he will take heart from the fact he only trails his Movistar Yamaha teammate Rossi by 15 points, as the gap could have easily been much bigger.
Jorge Lorenzo – “After being fourth again in Austin I look forward to facing Argentina to try to gain momentum. I think we have solved the first races, where we struggle a bit because of different issues, in the best way possible. We are fifth in the championship, but this is still at the kick off stage. I feel good in terms of riding and also with the bike. Unfortunately I was sick the whole week in Austin and I wasn‘t able to be in a perfect shape to fight for the podium. I hope Argentina will suit us better. In Termas the circuit is pretty nice to ride and last year, even if I wasn‘t in an optimal shape, I still managed to get on the podium. It‘s a fast track with very nice corners and I guess this is good news for our bike.”
Bradley Smith looks set to continue his battle to be the leading Satellite rider with his compatriot Cal Crutchlow with both men currently tied for 6th place in the Championship standings on 18 points. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Smith should have an advantage at the Termas de Rio Hondo after beating his teammate Pol Espargaro to 7th in Argentina last year, while Crutchlow has never ridden at the circuit before after he was forced to miss the 2014 race through injury.
Bradley Smith – Championship: 6th – “I’m looking forward to the race in Argentina after the good result we had in Texas and I’m happy the wait is not so long! The track wont have changed a lot from last year in terms of grip and the racing line will be quite narrow. For sure, it will be vital to get a strong qualifying position there and I intend to be far quicker than last year as I was not happy with the result or having to go through Q1. We are improving the setting every time we run the Yamaha but the main thing we need to focus on is looking after the front tyre. So we will keep studying the Yamaha data to see where I can improve. My ambition remains the same, which is to be close to the factory riders and after all of the positives we have had so far, I am going to Argentina confident and optimistic about getting another strong result.”
Pol Espargaro – Championship: 12th – “Unfortunately after all the hard work in Texas, our race day was ruined due to an incident, but anyway we must forget about this as well as the entire weekend as we now focus on Argentina. I am looking forward to visiting the Rio Hondo track again which is very fast and more of a Yamaha type of track. The local fans are really enthusiastic and are very happy to see MotoGP in their country, so therefore I will do my best to put on a good show for them and to make amends for the bad weekend in Texas. I know I have the pace to be up running with my teammate and battling for the leading satellite position. We’ve had a bit of bad luck so far this year, but at round 3 I know the team and I can pull together and get a strong result before we head to Europe.”
Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing’s Scott Redding will want to show that he has not lost any of the new found confidence he was showing on the Honda RC213V in Austin before his crash on the first lap of the race. The 22-year-old Briton made a significant step forward with the set up of his Honda RC213V in Texas and heads into the next round determined to capitalize on his improved pace with a strong showing in Sunday’s 25-lap MotoGP race.
Scott Redding: “To crash out of the race in Austin after my best ever qualifying in MotoGP was disappointing, but we can take a lot of positives from the weekend. We found a good set up with the bike and I was fast in both the wet and dry, so we’ll be starting from a much better base this weekend in Argentina, even if the Termas de Río Hondo track is very different to the Circuit of the Americas. We need to continue working in the same direction as we did in Austin, improving the bike and the lap time in every session. If we can do that then I think we can put the disappointment of Austin behind us with a good result on Sunday.”
Team Suzuki Ecstar will look to build on their encouraging start to the season, which saw both of their riders finish inside the top ten in the US.
Yonny Hernandez will be looking to bounce back from his crash in Austin with a better finish than the 12th place he managed in Argentina in 2014, while his Pramac Racing Teammate Danilo Petrucci will want to follow up his first top ten finish for the Satellite team at the weekend with another impressive performance.
In the battle of the Open class, it’s currently Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera who leads the way with 5 Championship points, two more than Nicky Hayden on the Aspar MotoGP Team Honda RC213V-RS.
Aspar rider Nicky Hayden is one of the circuit’s biggest fans and the American admits he is looking forward to returning after enjoying riding there last season. After a determined ride to the points in his home race last Sunday, Hayden is keen to carry that momentum into free practice at a circuit that should be more to the liking of the Honda. Eugene Laverty visits another completely new track to him but after adapting swiftly to COTA over last weekend he is confident of making another smooth transition in Argentina.
Nicky Hayden: “This is the second time we have been to Argentina and I have to say that last year I loved the track and enjoyed riding it all weekend. We will have to see what the conditions are like this time, I guess the track will be quite dirty on Friday because there doesn’t tend to be a lot of activity there the rest of the year. It has some flowing corners and I think we can reach a good level this weekend. We did a good job in the race last Sunday so we want to pick up from that on Friday. There is a real passion for motorcycles in this part of the world and the interest in MotoGP is definitely growing. I’m sure that like last year it will be an interesting weekend.”
Eugene Laverty: “Austin was quite a difficult track to learn but I adapted quickly and that gives me confidence going to Argentina. It is a long journey to Termas de Río Hondo, so I will have time to watch some videos and start learning my way around before we get there. Austin was a tough circuit for the characteristics of our bike but Argentina looks more like Phillip Island and I think that could benefit us. We will work hard from Friday to adapt and learn it as quickly as possible.”
Keep an eye out for CWM LCR’s Jack Miller in Argentina as he continues to adapt to his Open class Honda after he finished last year’s Moto3 race at the circuit in 3rd.
After the difficult ending in Texas, Athina Forward Racing’s Stefan Bradl and Loris Baz are looking forward to get back on track to collect their first points of the season. The German, who was close to victory in the Open category in Austin but was forced to retire after a contact with Miller, made a big step forward and is convinced he can do well. Loris Baz is feeling confident even if he does not know the Argentinian track at all and will ride on it for the first time on Friday for the free practice session.
Stefan Bradl – “I cannot wait to get on track at Termas de Río Hondo. In Texas we made a big step forward compared to Qatar race but unfortunately the ending was not as we expected. We remain focused; the goal is to get here the first points of the season.”
Loris Baz – “Another first time for me in this Championship. I do not know the Termas de Río Hondo track and will have my first go on Friday. I’ll have to make the most of the free practice to gain confidence and get ready for qualifying. We continue our learning process in this 2015 season.”
The Factory Aprilia Racing Team Gresini grabbed their first MotoGP Championship points in Austin as Alvaro Bautista finished in 15th place, although they will be hoping to have both riders complete the race this time after Marco Melandri had to retire with gearbox problems in Austin.
With the same materials used in Austin, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini will be looking for confirmations and new steps forward.
Romano Albesiano (Aprilia Racing Manager) – “In the Argentina race we should be able to confirm the progress we made at Austin and improve further if possible. We’ll be able to do that thanks to the information Alvaro gathered during his great race on Sunday. We are coming off of a great weekend, thanks to which we gained quite a bit of knowledge and now we have a technical base that we feel is significant and from which we want to evolve. Our immediate goal is to improve grip and pursue a few electronic torque management developments that provided good results in Texas. Obviously, since we are in our rookie season, we are unfamiliar with this track. On paper it isn’t as much of a stop-and-go track like the one from the last race and I think our RS-GP may adapt well here.”
Alvaro Bautista – “The Termas de Rio Hondo track is another new challenge for the Aprilia: the goal, as always, is to gather as much information as possible to improve the performance of the bike and my feeling in the saddle. In Texas we took our first point of the championship, but that doesn’t mean that we will ride onto the track in Argentina thinking about the race results. We will simply continue working, trying to get closer and closer to the riders ahead of us. Finishing the race again will be important to build up information and sensations that will be fundamental to set up development during the European season, where we’ll be able to prepare technical changes more frequently.”
Marco Melandri – “In Argentina I’ll find myself once again on a new track. I hope that this weekend the weather conditions will remain stable, unlike what happened in Texas, so that we can set up our work on the bike better. If we can I think we’ll be able to take a step forward and get closer to the riders in front of us.”
The action kicks off in Argentina on Friday 17 April, with the first MotoGP Free Practice session due to start at 09:55 local time.
MotoGP World Championship Standing
1 – Valentino Rossi (ITA) YAMAHA 41 points
2 – Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) DUCATI 40 points
3 – Marc Marquez (SPA) HONDA 36 points
4 – Andrea Iannone (ITA) DUCATI 27 points
5 – Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) YAMAHA 26 points
Moto2 returns to Argentina with a rookie leading a tight and close championship battle
2014 saw Tito Rabat lead every lap of the Gran Premio Red Bull de la República Argentina after starting from pole, one of eleven victories that season. The Moto2 champion is currently tenth in the standings after finishing fourth in Austin following a DNF in Qatar. He and Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS teammate Alex Marquez are looking for a drama free weekend after multiple crashes in Austin.
A debut podium in the US saw Alex Rins take a surprise lead in the Championship after moving up from Moto3. The Spaniard has taken a calm and steady approach so far, settling inside the top ten before battling the podiums come race day, adding his third place finish in the US to the fourth he achieved in Qatar. Argentina has also been kind to his teammate Luis Salom, who secured third at the Termas de Rio Hondo last year along with the fastest race lap.
Austin left a sour taste in the mouth of Xavier Simeon as contact with Johann Zarco saw the Belgian rider end his race in the gravel. Simeon will have his chance to again challenge for the podium this weekend in Argentina, a track where he has finished second in the past, meanwhile Zarco failed to score points last year.
A debut win for Sam Lowes last weekend delivered on the potential he has shown throughout testing and in Qatar. Like Rabat, Lowes will be aiming for a crash free weekend as the British rider left Texas with a plethora of bruises along with his winner’s trophy, as a result of three big crashes during Free Practice and Qualifying.
Anthony West has the most experience in Argentina, having finished eighth in the 250cc race in 1999. The Australia battled to seventh in Austin, his first top ten finish since Valencia last year and his best finish since he won at Assen in 2003.
The Moto2 action starts on Friday with Free Practice 1 taking place at 10:55 local time in Argentina.
Moto2 World Championship Standing
1 – Alex Rins (SPA) KALEX 29 points
2 – Johann Zarco (FRA) KALEX 28 points
3 – Jonas Folger (GER) KALEX 25 points
4 – Sam Lowes (GBR) SPEED UP 25 points
5 – Franco Morbidelli (ITA) KALEX 22 points
Britain’s Kent the man to beat in Moto3
With Danny Kent taking the largest ever dry weather victory in the Moto3 class, he will surely be the man to beat in Argentina.
Last year’s Grand Premio Red Bull de la República Argentina saw a fairing bashing battle go down to last few corners, with Romano Fenati taking his first win of the season. With just eight points to his name this season, the Italian will be hungry to repeat this success.
Danny Kent will again be the man to beat; the World Championship leader has been competitive in almost every session so far this season. The British rider does not have fond memories from Argentina, contact with Niklas Ajo, his then teammate, saw him crash at the finish line in 2014.
Austin saw Fabio Quartararo claim his debut Moto3 podium, still just 15 years of age. Termas de Rio Hondo will be yet another new track for the French youngster to learn before the MotoGP paddock returns to Europe, and tracks he is familiar with. With just one previous visit to Argentina, the field will have less of an advantage than in Qatar and Austin.
KTM have yet to score a podium this year after being the dominant manufacturer in the championship in previous seasons. Most disappointing has been Miguel Oliveira’s two non-point scoring results due to crashes. Red Bull KTM Ajo teammate Brad Binder leads the KTM effort from seventh in the Championship.
A crash for Francesco Bagnaia ended Mahindra’s chance of a podium in Austin, but if the young Italian can avoid mistakes he will be a threat for the top three. Mahindra have increased their effort in the lightweight class this year, supplying nine bikes.
Livio Loi scored his best ever result of fifth in Argentina last year and will be looking to repeat that form now he is on a competitive Honda machine.
The Moto3 action gets underway on Friday with Free Practice 1 taking place at 09:00 local time in Argentina.
Moto3 World Championship Standing
1 – Danny Kent (GBR) HONDA 41 points
2 – Enea Bastianini (ITA) HONDA 33 points
3 – Fabio Quartararo (FRA) HONDA 29 points
4 – Efren Vazquez (SPA) HONDA 29 points
5 – Alexis Masbou (FRA) HONDA 25 points