Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi finished his 110th race on top of the podium at the third round of the MotoGP season at the “Termas de Río Hondo Circuit” in Argentina. Starting from eighth place on the grid, Rossi kept this place for the first few laps, but soon managed to close up on the front.
Current World Champion Marc Márquez started well and made sure to open up a gap on his pursuers Ecstar Suzuki rider Aleix Espargaró and Movistar Yamaha pilot Jorge Lorenzo. Those two battled in the first laps into the race, which gave Márquez an extra advantage for getting away quickly. With 23 laps to go his lead had increased to two seconds and continued to grow with each lap.
Behind him, Espargaró dropped back more and more to find himself in seventh place in front of his brother Tech3 rider Pol Espargaró. But a second Top Ten finish, along with a second place in qualifying proves that Suzuki is able to fight with the top riders. As the season goes on, we’ll surely see a Suzuki fighting for a podium finish.
Lorenzo, after looking strong at the beginning of the race, fell back to sixth place and only managed to make it a fifth place in the end, with a strong Bradley Smith following him.
As Espargaró and Lorenzo dropped back, CWM LCR Honda pilot Cal Crutchlow joined in the fight captured second position, but had gone wide with 18 laps to go. This gave Ducati pilot Andrea Dovizioso the chance to sneak past, but still the brit secured his first podium finish this season. With Doviziso in second place, he battled with second Ducati rider Andrea Iannone and ultimately could prevail in the final corner. It’s the first podium position for the LCR Honda team since Laguna Seca in 2013, where Stefan Bradl managed to grab a second place.
As the battles behind Márquez went on, Valentino Rossi worked his way through the field. The veteran first caught up to Iannone and overtook his fellow countrymen soon. With 17 laps to go, Rossi was already in fourth position. But surely this wasn’t the result he was aiming for. Rossi had decided to go with the extra-hard rear tyre, which was especially made by Bridgestone for the Argentina Grand Prix. As the weather continued to get better and better, the heat was increasing, so Rossi’s gamble did work out.
First he brought himself and his YZR-M1 to third and then, due to a mistake by Crutchlow, even into second place with only Marc Márquez in front of him. By then, Rossi took up the fight and continuous chased the double MotoGP world champ. With every finished lap, Márquez was told by his team via pitboard, that the Yamaha rider had closed the gap between them for another half second. With one and a half laps to go, Rossi had finally closed the gap to Márquez entirely and started to attack the young spaniard.
For once, Márquez could hold back, but the second attack made Rossi the leader of the Argentine Grand Prix. Unfortunately this maneuver caused Márquez to crash while going into a fast left-hander. He tried to fight back against Valentino Rossi, but the nine-time world champion closed the door on him. Márquez’ RC213V touched the back of Rossis Yamaha. While the italian continued to race and crossed the finish line far ahead from the rest of the field, Márquez crashed out of the race, without major injuries.
The incident was looked over by the race direction, but after a few minutes it was decided that no further investigations were to come. It was handled a regular racing incident. With his second win this season, Rossi leads the championship by six points over his fellow countrymen Andrea Dovizioso.
The Top Ten was completed by Pol Espargaró, Marc VDS rider Scott Redding and the second Suzuki rider Maverick Viñales.
Hiroshi Aoyama, the substitute for Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, could only complete one lap of the race. Also local hero Yonny Hernández unfortunately had to give up the race, because his Pramac Ducati caught fire. Luckily Hernández stayed unhurt.
The fourth race of the MotoGP season will start at Friday May, 1 at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.