Zarco 'head over heals' again with Moto2 win

The somersaulting 2015 Moto2 Champion Johann Zarco won his first race of the 2016 season at the Termas De Rio Honda Circuit in Argentina. The Frenchman was ‘head over heels’ with his result as he was once again spotted doing a ‘back-flip’ off the tyre wall in front of the Valentino Rossi stand.

Zarco 'head over heals' again with Moto2 win
Johann Zarco claims win in Argentina | Photo: Ajo Motorsport

Despite the thunderstorms in Argentina overnight and a really wet warm-up session previous to the race, the track had started to dry out in time for the start of the second round of the Moto2 season.

It was Dynavolt Intact GP’s new rider Jonas Folger who led into the first corner of the Moto2 race at the Termas De Rio Hondo in Argentina after qualifying to start third on the row. He was followed by Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Team rider Sam Lowes and Ajo Motorsport's Johann Zarco who had started to pull away from the rest of the pack immediately. Lowes was overtaken by Zarco but he claimed back his second position immediately.

Turn one claimed it's first victim in Moto2 race

Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli soon started to break away in fourth position ahead of the next group that had formed led by Paginas Amarillas HP 40 rider Alex Rins. Entering lap two, Morbidelli’s teammate Alex Marquez became the first victim of turn one. He was unhurt and the marshals helped him to return to the track but unfortunately he had to return to the pits and did not finish the race. Pole position holder Lowes soon challenged Zarco again and was able to overtake the 2015 Champion on turn five; he soon lost his place to Folger.

Rins who had been overtaken by Forward Team rider Lorenzo Baldassarri was able to overtake him with 20 laps to go claiming back fifth place. Soon after Hafitzh Syahrin took advantage and also got past the Italian Baldassarri.

The track evolved

The track ‘evolved’ throughout the race as it continued to dry out; Lowes became the first one to break through the 1:50 minute barrier; this time was soon beaten again as many riders were able to set personal best laps.

A mistake from Folger allowed Lowes to sneak past with 20 laps to go. Morbidelli and Zarco then continued to battle for third position. Dominique Aegerter soon passed Rins aboard his CarXpert Interwetten Kalex and was followed by Syahrin on the Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex. Zarco then overtook Morbidelli again after setting the fastest lap, but lifted out of his seat and lost his place again to Morbidelli by lap 18.

Lowes pushed Zarco all the way | Photo: Federal Oil Gresini Moto2
Lowes pushed Zarco all the way | Photo: Federal Oil Gresini Moto2

On lap six. Syahrin went on to set fastest lap 1:47.584 as he chased to close the gap between him and Morbidelli; in the meantime trying to leave Aegerter and Rins behind.

Folger startled by Zarco's presence

Zarco made a tough move on Folger as they came over the line with 15 laps to go as Lowes had started to look comfortable and looked to slightly break away; Folger felt his presence and was startled and decided to move out of the way. Folger then went wide and lost another place to Morbidelli. Morbidelli then seized the opportunity to attack Zarco but his move did not stick. This allowed Lowes to continue to extend his lead.

Cortese crashes out

Folger’s teammate Sandro Cortese set a fastest lap 1:46.662 with 15 laps to go, Folger claimed back this title two laps later shaving 0.275 seconds off his teammate’s time. On his next lap Folger gained third back from Morbidelli however the positions were swapped back by the end of the lap. With ten laps to go Cortese crashed at turn nine, he was able to walk away unhurt. Rins barged past Aegerter at turn two as the battle for fifth continued and this allowed him to break through the 1:46 minute barrier.

Back to the front and Zarco soon overtook the leader Lowes with ten laps to go after they crossed the start-finish straight. Rins had a huge ‘moment’ on turn seven with eight laps to go as a result of possibly pushing it too much.

Rins finished the race in fourth | Photo: Páginas Amarillas HP 40
Rins finished the race in fourth | Photo: Páginas Amarillas HP 40

The leaders started to come across back markers with six laps to go. During the next lap Morbidelli overtook Lowes when he went wide with five laps to go, however Lowes continued the chase and was soon back on his tail. Lowes then overtook with three laps to go at the end of the straight and managed to meet the apex this time allowing him to keep the second place he had just took from Morbidelli; Lowes was sliding sideways throughout the race.

Morbidelli has a spectacular crash

Just as the riders entered the second to last lap, Morbidelli touched a damp patch with his rear wheel and slid off. He refused to let go of the bike and almost to keep it running. He returned to his feet and got back on the bike but had stalled it, he was unable to start it on his own and it was not safe for Marshalls to assist him as it was on the racing line.

Zarco claims the win in Argentina

Zarco won just over a second ahead of Lowes setting a fastest lap 1:44.345 on the last lap. He was followed by Lowes and Folger as Morbidelli was now out of the running. Rins won the battle of the next group, followed by Aegerter and Syahrin who battled right up to the line.

Garage Plus Interwetten rider Thomas Luthi who won in Qatar did not seem happy finishing in seventh. Luthi was followed by a group of five riders made up of Axel Pons (AGR Team), Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Racing Team Asia), Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Pons’ teammate Marcel Schrotter. The fastest Speed Up bike ridden by Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team) finished in twelfth followed by Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) and the fastest Tech 3 rider Xavi Vierge. Luis Salom (SAG Team) claimed the last of the points.

British rider Danny Kent, who was promoted to the Moto2 by his Leopard Racing Team who expanded to the Moto2 class following Kent’s 2015 Moto3 Championship win, finished just outside the points in sixteenth place. Kent was in twenty-second at one point and did well to battle through the pack and gaining six places. The only Suter in the race ridden by Efren Vazquez for the JPMoto Malaysia team finished in twenty-sixth position.