The drama continued from the Free Practice sessions right as the time got closer to the second race of the MotoGP season at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina.
Following the incident where the rear tyre of Scott Redding’s rear tyre de-laminated (the thread came off) in FP4, precautions had to be put in place to ensure the safety of the riders was not jeopardised any more. The hard and medium compound rear slick Michelin tyres had been removed and a special option introduced to replace them; riders were also given an extra practice session.
Race Direction revealed at the beginning of the race the following criteria:
- Intermediate tyres were not permitted for use at any time.
- A dry race would be ran over 20 laps and riders were to use the special option provided; if it became a wet race riders were to follow the normal procedures where they change to a bike set up for the wet in the pits.
- If the practice was wet and the race was to be declared dry, weather lap could be used over a twenty lap race but a compulsory pit stop had to be made between the ninth and eleventh lap.
- If it was to be declared a wet race and the track was to dry out, the twenty lap race would be red-flagged and restarted after a fifteen minute break; the previous dry procedure would then be followed.
- If it was to be a wet race and it remained wet, the riders would continue on the wet tyres for twenty-five laps.
Race declared to be a 'dry race'
It came to the beginning of the race and it was declared a dry race as it had stopped raining and the track had dried out. It was announced that the race distance had been changed to twenty laps and they had to now definitely enter the pits to change tyres between laps nine and eleven if the race starts under dry conditions, with the hard and medium options available.
If the weather should change and rain starts to fall, Race Direction will consider this situation dangerous and they will wave a red flag meaning all riders should enter the pits where teams will have 15 minutes to make any adjustments needed. The second part of the race will be declared as a wet race and will be ten laps long; grid positions will be based on the first part of the race.
Collisions at the first corner
The race got underway and Jorge Lorenzo took the lead on his Movistar Yamaha going into the first corner. Andrea ‘The Maniac’ Iannone (Ducati) came into contact with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) as they entered turn one, this meant Iannone went wide and he forced Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) out with him; the impact with Marquez caused his camera to become detached from the rear of his bike however he was not called in to rectify it.
Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso overtook the leader Lorenzo and at the same time Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi robbed another position from him overtaking on the outside. By the end of the first lap Lorenzo ended up in sixth position as Marquez and Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Maverick Vinales got ahead of him as well as Iannone.
'Follow me I will show you where to crash!'
LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow crashed coming into turn one and he was closely followed by Vinales’ teammate Aleix Espargaro who crashed as if to avoid Crutchlow. Both riders were able to remount and re-join the race.
Dovizioso now led and Marquez looked reckless behind Rossi; it brought back memories of the 2015 round in Argentina were Marquez came into contact of the back of Rossi’s Yamaha resulting in the Honda rider crashing out.
Marquez took the lead
Marquez overtook Rossi and soon claimed first position from Dovizioso by the end of the third lap. However, it was Iannone who was the fastest man on the track at the time as he was the first to break past the 1:42 minute laps, Marquez soon achieved this also. Rossi then got past the Ducati rider to take second place. In the meantime Iannone had gotten past Vinales and soon overtook Dovizioso as well.
Turn 1 claims more victims on race day
Jack Miller has looked confident all weekend despite several crashes around different parts of the circuit; this was to be the fate for him in the race and the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda rider crashed out of the race on lap four at turn three. Just one lap later the notorious turn one claimed another victim, that of Lorenzo. The Spanish 2015 Champion has had a very difficult time in Argentina complaining about the front end of the bike throughout and his disaster of a weekend ended in more disappointment.
Time for mandatory pit stops
Marquez continued to lead ahead of Rossi and now Vinales who had overtaken the two Ducati riders. It was now lap nine which meant that riders had to begin entering the pit lane to make the mandatory switch of bikes with fresh tyres. Vinales was first in followed by Iannone, meanwhile the battle continued on track between Rossi and Marquez who switched places several times.
Both entered the pits very closely and at the same time, Rossi’s switch was not as efficient as that of Marquez who gained a few vital bike lengths by the time they made it back onto the track. Rabat ended up in between the two now and Rossi was unable to match the pace he had previous to the stop; this allowed Vinales to catch up to Rossi.
More disappointment for Redding
The first overtake after the pit stops came from Redding who managed to charge past Pedrosa with eight laps remaining. Unfortunately for Redding, who has been the centre of all the tyre controversy all weekend, his Ducati broke down with five laps today which brought his mentally and physically exhausting weekend to an early finish. Avintia Ducati rider Hector Barbera went wide allowing Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Pol Espargaro to catch him up.
Distraction leads to misfortune for Vinales
Not long after Vinales overtook Rossi, Iannone overtook Dovizioso and looked set to catch Rossi. The battle continued with the four riders as they switched places several times allowing Marquez to increase his lead out in front. However on the 17th lap Vinales, who was distracted by Iannone approaching him from behind, crashed at turn one and unfortunately for the Spanish rider was not able to re-join the race; it was a disappointed end to what looked was a very strong race for him.
Iannone 'The Maniac' lives up to his name!
The two Ducatis then continued to battle, they soon caught up to Rossi who then joined in with their fight for second place. This continued into the last corner of the last lap, the two Ducatis had gotten ahead of Rossi, but then ‘The Maniac’ Iannone lived up to his name.
The Italian braked late in an attempt to overtake his teammate on the inside; however he lost control of his Ducati and fell off sliding straight into the side of his teammate bringing him off in the meantime. Both ended up in the gravel which allowed Rossi to finish in second, seven seconds behind winner Marquez, and Pedrosa to claim the last podium place in third.
Personal best for Irishman Laverty
Aspar Team MotoGP rider crossed the line in fourth; his best ever result in the MotoGP class and the top independent rider. He and Barbera gained a place in the final lap as Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Pol Espargaro went off track in the final lap but was able to return safely to the track to gain sixth ahead of Stefan Bradl on the Aprilia which is new to the MotoGP class; this was also the best result so far for the new team.
Dovizioso determined to collect points in Argentina
Bradley Smith (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) finished in eighth ahead of rookie Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Bautista who was able to return to the track after his crash in the pits. Espargaro was also able to finish despite his crash; he finished in 11th gaining five championship points.
Michele Pirro is temporarily replacing Danilo Petrucci on the Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati (Petrucci may not return until Jerez); the Italian finished in 12th taking four points ahead of Dovizioso who was able to pick his bike up and run across the line to finish in 13th. Unfortunately for British rider Crutchlow, he fell off in the final lap following his efforts after he had to remount earlier on in the race.
Marquez 'slipped up' in front of the media
Things seemed uncomfortable on the podium as the hostile atmosphere could be sent between rivals Marquez and Rossi. Marquez slipped and fell at the top of the podium, he returned to his feet and cheered to avoid any further embarrassment; all his rival could do was take a swig from his drink in order to avoid reacting in any way that could be deemed controversial.