The rookie Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo were again out in force at the Termos de Rio Hondo where they collected another fantastic result after another solid performance during the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina. Both riders finished in the top six collecting 24 championship points between them.
Rookies rode great in the dry
Double Moto2 champion, Johann Zarco and his new teammate Jonas Folger clearly started as thy meant to go on as they finished Free Practice 1 in third and fourth, and Free Practice 2 in 12th and eighth. All Yamaha riders appeared to struggle during the wet conditions in Free Practice 3, but fortunately for Folger, the combined practice times meant that he was still able to progress automatically to Qualifying 2 where he claimed 11th on the grid, whereas Zarco had to settle for 14th.
Come race-day and the rookies finished 11th and ninth quickest. The track was dry and the riders were ready to continue on from the success in the first round. Although he collected a DNF, Zarco took the lead of the season opener and had begun to pull away when he unfortunately crashed out. Still, he gave the others something to be aware of. Folger on the other hand, finished 10th and collected six points towards his championship.
Great start for the rookies
The lights went out and the race got underway. Folger initially moved up to sixth on the track, however he lost two places as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Karel Abraham (Pull & Bear Aspar Team) passed him pushing him down to seventh. Zarco immediately made progress on his grid position and was in ninth by the end of the second lap after passing both Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini and Alvaro Bautista (Pull & Bear Aspar Team).
Folger went backwards unfortunately dropping back to 10th as riders sorted themselves out on track, whereas Zarco continued moving forwards and was now in eighth. Zarco engaged in battle with Dovizioso for sixth and emerged successful gaining another position and he soon caught up Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) who were fighting it out for fifth.
Zarco finishes the Argentinian GP in fifth
While the two were distracted, Zarco who was coming under pressure from Bautista who had also passed Dovizioso and made an attempt on him, was able to bypass both of them on lap 11 to take fourth. Bautista also made his way past and continued in pursuit of the French man. As Pedrosa fell down behind them, Bautista was able to pass Zarco on the 15th lap pushing him down to fifth after Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) crashed out of the lead ahead of them earlier. The Frenchman finished the Argentinian GP in fifth collecting his first 11 MotoGP championship points.
Sixth for Folger in Argentina
For Folger he continued to battle on. Ahead of him, Aleix Espargaro took out Dovizioso gaining the German rider two places as he successfully avoided getting entangled. He then worked on catching and bypassing Italian rider, Petrucci and in the latter stages of the race was able to pass him. Folger finished sixth almost three seconds behind his teammate collecting 10 championship points leaving him sixth in the championship on joint 16 points with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) as the highest placed rookie.
Zarco felt everything came together for race day
Zarco spoke of how the Argentinian GP was a “happy day” and they were able to “leave Argentina knowing that [they] did a good job”. He explained how starting the race from 14th on the grid “did not concern [him] too much” as he found his “feeling on the bike was positive” and he knew that he “could ride well”.
He felt that “everything came together” during the race and that he was “able to fight and overtake [his] opponents”. He found it to be “a bit challenging because a lot happened in the group” that he was in, however he explained that he “kept calm and attacked” when he could whilst he held his “rhythm and position”.
He then went on to describe how “halfway through the GP [he] was fighting for fourth” however in the end he “couldn’t keep up with Bautista’s pace”. Zarco felt that he did his best and knew that “after the crash in Qatar it was important to meet the chequered flag and get some points”. He said, “To end up in the top five is just awesome so I am very pleased with the result.”
Folger overcome worries to collect a great result
Folger too talked about how he “felt good on the track” and how he thought it was “great to finish [their] second race in the premier class in sixth”. He admitted that “initially [he] was a bit worried” as he was “not feeling too well” the night previous and had to resort to medication.
Still, he felt that he “had a positive start” which he said was what he “wanted, to improve after Qatar”. He found that he was able to “complete the first two laps in an encouraging manner” but the he “made a mistake shortly after” which caused him to “lose some positions”; this left him in 10th and so he then “focused on building up a good rhythm”.
He then noticed during the race that “Petrucci was fighting against his bike” as the Italian Ducati rider on the Desmosedici GP 17 was “pushing hard and burning his tyre” according to Folger. So, Folger decided to try and "save [his] tyre as much as possible for the end”. He went on to describe that once he had “closed in” he found that he was “confident” that he could pass him.
Folger then went on to discuss his new teammate, Zarco who he said is his target. He is aware that “every Sunday he is quick and has a really strong place” and so after comparing, Folger plans to keep working on himself to “analyse” what he can do to “beat him”.