2016 Argentina MotoGP Results
Besides not having any experience with the spec Michelin tires or Magneti Marelli ECUs at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina, the 21-rider grid was greeted Sunday with inclement weather. Issues with tires during the fourth and final free practice caused some scrambling among Michelin and Dorna officials as dark skies plagued the South American track.
To keep things safe, the race was shortened from 25 to 20 laps. And though rain was not an issue during the Argentina GP, only 13 riders finished. One factory Honda rider wasn’t affected by any of these issues – Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. From the first free practice through qualifying, Marquez displayed complete authority.
The two-time MotoGP Champion led three of four free practices and earned pole position. This was pole #3 for Marquez, who earned all top qualifying positions since the South American circuit joined MotoGP in 2014. The Spaniard was able to capitalize on the 2014 pole en route to his second premier-class title, but crashed out last season as Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi claimed the win.
Seeking redemption from this, and his third at the MotoGP season opener in Qatar, Marquez returned to the top of the podium in Argentina Sunday during round two of 2016 MotoGP. Marquez scored victory in the shortened race, beating out rival Valentino Rossi on the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YZM-R1 and the other Repsol Honda RC213V pilot, Dani Pedrosa.
The slick conditions caused Dorna, the governing body of MotoGP, to shorten the race and mandate a bike change (aka, fresh Michelin tires) on the ninth, 10th or 11th lap – if riders didn’t participate in the mandatory swap, they would sustain a penalty. The last time a mandatory bike change occurred was at Phillip Island in 2013, a race where Marquez was excluded while in the lead due to not pitting early enough to change his then-Bridgestone spec tires.
But this was far from the case at 2016 Argentina MotoGP; Marquez pitted on lap nine as required, and kept his dominance. But the Argentinean GP wasn’t lacking drama; on the opening lap, Marquez was pushed back to fourth after some contact with Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone. But Marquez fought back to first within three laps, and was untouchable for the remaining laps.
Marquez eventually finished the Argentinean Grand Prix 7.679 ahead of Rossi. The men in the 2-3 positions on the final lap – Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone – crashed out at turn 12 of 14, allowing Rossi to earn his first podium of 2016 with second. Claiming the final podium position was Marquez’s teammate Pedrosa, who finished a lonely 28.1 seconds back.
Following the race, Marc Marquez said, “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 percent in the first five laps after the bike change, I opened a gap and after that I just kept the distance.”
2016 Argentina MotoGP Recap:
When the shortened 20-lap race began, the winner of the season opener in Qatar, Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, got to turn one first. Dovi and Pedrosa also got a great start, but Iannone’s GP16 contacted Pedrosa’s RC213V, pushing both back. Pedrosa was pushed outside of the top 10.
Dovi wasted no time and got into the lead, followed by his Italian compatriot Rossi. As Lorenzo kept falling back, Marquez pushed his way toward the front, taking the lead on the start of lap four. Before lap one concluded, Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro – the only rider on a hard-rear Michelin (all others on mediums) – and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow crashed.
The next rider to wreck was Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda’s Jack Miller, who made his way up to fifth after passing Lorenzo. The three-time MotoGP Champion Lorenzo was next to crash out, losing the front end of his YZR-M1 with 15 to go.
As the race went on, Marquez and Rossi intensely battled as Iannone, Dovizioso and Team Ecstar Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales diced behind. The first riders to pit on lap nine were Iannone and Vinales, followed by Pedrosa, Avintia Racing Ducati’s Loris Baz, Avintia Racing Ducati’s Hector Barbera, Apsar Team MotoGP Ducati’s Eugene Laverty and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Stefan Bradl.
With 11 laps remaining, Rossi and Marquez pitted, and the young Spaniard was out first, able to use Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda’s Tito Rabat as a blocker, considering the Moto2 Champion had yet to pit. Marquez was then able to pull a two-second gap over Rossi and Vinales.
As Rossi fended off Vinales, the Ducati duo of Iannone and Dovizioso showed the strength of the GP15, eventually passing Vinales – who would crash when he hit a wet patch in turn 1 – and Rossi. As Marquez was comfortably in the lead, Dovizioso entered the last lap in second ahead of Iannone and Rossi. As these three battled, Iannone lost the front end and took out his teammate, with the two GP16 pilots going down. Iannone would DNF, but Dovi pushed his Ducati over the finish line to finish 13th.
This gave second to Rossi, who was followed to the checkered flag by Pedrosa. Laverty was handed fourth, who beat Barbera to the line by a mere 0.169 of a second. Rounding out the top 10 were Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro, Bradl, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Smith, Rabat and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista. Despite his early crash, Espargaro was able to finish 11th.
Other riders who crashed were Apsar Team MotoGP’s Yonny Hernandez and Octo Pramac Yakhnich’s Michele Pirro. Both were unharmed, were the others who crashed.
The 2016 MotoGP Championship now heads directly to Austin’s Circuit of the Americas for round three of 18 – the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas.
2016 Argentina MotoGP Results – Termas de Rio Hondo:
|1||25||93||Marc MARQUEZ||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||168.4||34’13.628|
|2||20||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||167.8||+7.679|
|3||16||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||166.2||+28.100|
|4||13||50||Eugene LAVERTY||IRL||Aspar Team MotoGP||Ducati||165.5||+36.542|
|5||11||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Avintia Racing||Ducati||165.5||+36.711|
|6||10||44||Pol ESPARGARO||SPA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||165.4||+37.245|
|7||9||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||165.1||+41.353|
|8||8||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||164.4||+50.709|
|9||7||53||Tito RABAT||SPA||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||164.4||+50.983|
|10||6||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||163.6||+1’01.388|
|11||5||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||163.0||+1’08.868|
|12||4||51||Michele PIRRO||ITA||OCTO Pramac Yakhnich||Ducati||162.2||+1’18.987|
|13||3||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||161.1||+1’33.419|
|29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||167.8||1 Lap|
|35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||LCR Honda||Honda||164.2||1 Lap|
|25||Maverick VIÑALES||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||167.5||3 Laps|
|45||Scott REDDING||GBR||OCTO Pramac Yakhnich||Ducati||165.2||5 Laps|
|76||Loris BAZ||FRA||Avintia Racing||Ducati||161.7||8 Laps|
|99||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||167.9||15 Laps|
|43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||166.8||17 Laps|
|68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||COL||Aspar Team MotoGP||Ducati||164.1||18 Laps|
2016 MotoGP Point Standings (after two of 18 rounds):