Eugene Laverty leads the Brits in Argentina GP

What a weekend for the British riders at the second meeting of the season at the Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina; mixed results and surrounded by drama.

Eugene Laverty leads the Brits in Argentina GP
Eugene Laverty enjoyed a good race in Argentina | Photo: Mirco Lazzari

Across the three classes, MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3, we are used to witnessing race wins dominated by Italians and Spaniards, but things have changed recently.

Most of the Brits compete in the MotoGP class of the world championship series; we currently have four riders including Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati), Bradley Smith (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Northern Irishman Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team MotoGP). The Moto2 class is represented by Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) and the Moto3 is represented with Scottish man John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint).

Although not all of our Brits had a successful weekend, some had amazing memorable performances that will not be forgotten for a while; I am talking about Eugene Laverty in particular.

Success for Laverty

Laverty is from Toomebridge, Northern Ireland, where he comes from a popular motorcycle road racing family, who have all competed in many events involving motorbikes.

Laverty has been in the spotlight since 2001 progressing from the British 125 Championships to the British Superbikes where he managed to impress Cecchinello who promoted him to the 250cc class, where he first rode in the World Championship series. He then raced in the World Supersport and Superbike series before winning the chance to represent the Drive M7 Aspar MotoGP team in 2015.

Success for Eugene Laverty | Photo: Mirco Lazzari
Success for Eugene Laverty | Photo: Mirco Lazzari

'Great craic' had by the Irish man!

Laverty’s first year in the MotoGP class was not easy but he worked hard at it. This year he continues to work with the Aspar team but instead he is now riding a Ducati; and what a brilliant change this has turned out to be for the Irishman.  A great performance and a bit of good old Irish luck meant that Laverty was able to finish fourth in the second round at Argentina thanks to ‘the last lap’ which was "Great craic; something a bit special!"

He was the fastest independent rider gaining 13 points (more than the nine points he was able to accumulate all last season) leaving him eighth in the Championship with 17 points overall. Laverty was consistent all weekend, when it came to the last lap he was in eighth position and finished in fourth in what he described as ‘a great race!’ Talking about the race he said: “It was a race of two parts really because we started again with the fuel again and the new tyres but the track was a little bit better in the second exit but I realised in the second part of the race that I had to make all my time on the entry.”

Laverty happy with the grip at the rear

The riders had been complaining about the grip from the Michelin tyre on the dirty track all weekend. The majority were complaining about the front but Laverty was struggling with the rear, “I was having to gain time on the brakes because I had no rear grip compared to the other riders, so I adjusted to use more of my front tyre and I was able to keep a good rhythm.”  We are proud of Laverty and his fantastic result, he said, “I never expected to get fourth, that was incredible!”

Controversy surrounded Redding all weekend

All weekend the controversy surrounded Redding because of the incident that occurred involving his rear Michelin tyre. Despite all the media attention Redding was able to keep his cool and had an amazing performance on race-day in spite of the injuries gained from his tyre de-laminating which he said, “It’s not too bad! It looks a lot worse! It was more with my neck like a whip lash or something when I woke up a bit tender.”

Unfortunately for Redding his bike broke down, he “lost all power, I tried to restart the motor two or three times, didn’t work!” Redding had no choice but to retire and has been left feeling ‘a bit frustrated.’ After all his efforts over the weekend he felt, “It could have been nice to regain some points if it was fifth or third, but we have to look on for the next race.” He is now 15th in the Championship with six points.

Mixed results for Smith and Crutchlow

Smith was the only other Brit in the MotoGP class that was able to complete the race in Argentina. The Yamaha rider finished in eighth position gaining eight points which has now left him ninth overall in the Championship. Smith recently announced that he will be starting a new project in the 2017 season with KTM who are joining the MotoGP class.

A race to forget for Crutchlow | Photo: Mirco Lazzari
A race to forget for Crutchlow | Photo: Mirco Lazzari

Crutchlow had a disappointing result again. The LCR Honda rider qualified ninth with his flying lap which made him the fastest Brit. He crashed on turn one early on in the race ahead of Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Aleix Espargaro who appeared to copy him, maybe in avoidance. Both were able to remount and re-join the race. Crutchlow was able to smoothly switch bikes in the pits, but unfortunately crashed out of the race in the final lap.

Great performance from Lowes

Moving onto the Moto2 class and it was Lowes who was the best Brit on the day. Lowes has stood out since the start of the season; he qualified in pole for the race day and took the lead in the race. He then had to compete with Ajo Motorsport rider Johann Zarco who soon overtook Lowes and went on to win leaving Lowes in second place at the end of the race.

Lowes said, “I am happy with the race, I dug in and it’s only really Johann that had strong pace, Morbidelli was fast but as soon as I lost ground I felt I could really catch up really easy you know.”  

Sam Lowes finished second in Argentina | Photo: AFP
Sam Lowes finished second in Argentina | Photo: AFP

Comparing his pace to that of Zarco he said, “If it had been a battle maybe it would have been close but like that mistake cost me. You know second position is good.”

Lowest taking mature approach to Championship 

Lowes now sits in third in the Moto2 Championship with 27 points; seven behind leader Thomas Luthi and two behind Zarco. Lowes said, “To win a championship you have got to finish all the races virtually and that’s what I’ve not done in the past and this is what I am going to try and work on this year.” 

In a mature approach Lowes would rather claim as many points as he can rather than risking them for the win (in case of a crash where he will take none), he said, “ten points at the end of the year is better than zero on the day.” He now looks forward to Austin where his ‘other bike worked really good!’ He said: “It’s a strange track, one that I really enjoy.” He is also confident with his new team who also did well there last year.

What happened to Danny Kent?

Also in the Moto2 class, the 2015 Moto3 Champion Kent who was promoted to the Moto2 where he rides for the same team who expanded to compete in the Moto2, finished in 16th which was just outside the points. He did however manage to improve his position throughout the race where he was at one point in 22nd position. He currently sits tenth in the championship standings with ten points.

Can Danny Kent improve in America? | Photo: Mirco Lazzari
Can Danny Kent improve in America? | Photo: Mirco Lazzari

Moto3 success for McPhee

Moving onto the Moto3 and the only British rider left in the class was seen near the top again. McPhee managed to finish seventh in the race which was run on a drying track.

The Brit chose to run on slick tyres and was able to make his way through the field after qualifying in twenty-eighth; McPhee appears to have struggled so far this season with his Peugeot only finishing in 27th in Qatar. It is great to see McPhee up near the front runners where he spent most of his time in the 2015 season, we hope he has finally feels comfortable with the 125cc machine and is able to progress more during the rest of the 2016 season.