Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina

8 April 2018
Rio Hondo Circuit in Argentina

A race of confusion, crashes, criticism, controversy and a Crutchlow celebration!

In a bizarre, remarkable and dramatic Grand Prix of Argentina Brit Cal Crutchlow emerges the victor!

Free Practice

So to South America, the weather for the weekend was changeable. Friday started good, with free practice giving a few surprises. Saturday it was wet all day so Friday's times were the fastest and both Factory Ducati riders had to go into qualifying 1. They were 1 and 2 for most of the qualifying session until Aleix Espargaró put in the fastest lap and Karel Abraham pushed Lorenzo to fourth.

GRAN PREMIO MOTUL DE LA REPUBLICA ARGENTINA

MotoGP Qualifying 1 Classification

Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit, Saturday, 7 April 2018

For Qualifying 2

For the top 12 positions on the grid. The track was wet but did start to dry a little. Jack Miller gambled and went out with slicks on. It worked for him, after almost coming off 3 times though! He took a sensational pole from Dani Pedrosa and Johann Zarco.

Photos from motogp.com

MotoGP Qualifying 2 Classification

Sunday Race day!

From start to finish, the MotoGP Grand Prix of Argentina was full of incidents and drama.

At the beginning of the race, confusion reigned as the drying track caused all the riders except Auzzie Jack Miller, to want to change from wet to slick tyres.

As the grid had formed already, this meant any rider who did so would have to start from pit lane. We saw a similar thing happening in Germany a couple of years ago. Where 20 riders did start from pit lane causing a mass dangerous dash to the first corner. Race control wanted to avoid that again with 23 riders changing tyres. So they decided to give them all a 4 row grid penalty. This meant pole man Jack Miller on his own, with a literal four row head-start. As he was the only one to line up for the race on slick tyres.

Then Marc Márquez stalled on the grid and performed an illegal manoeuvre starting his Honda. He rode the wrong way back to his grid position. For that he was given a ride through penalty in the race.

The lights went out and Miller charged into an early lead. Márquez blasted his way from sixth up to Miller's rear tyre by the end of the lap.

'Front row' starter Dani Pedrosa only made it to the penultimate corner of the opening tour. A pass from Zarco pushed the Honda rider onto a damp patch, a nasty high-side crash flicking the Spaniard off his bike fortunately without injury.

Márquez blasted past Miller down the back straight to take the lead, only to be handed the ride-through penalty for his illegal start line manoeuvre, Márquez took his ride through promptly and re-emerged 23rd. His 'red-mist' set in and he pushed past bike after bike until he barged his way by Aleix Espargaró, almost knocking him off, to go to18th. A move race direction believed was too aggressive, ordering Márquez to drop one place.

That didn't slow his progress. A few laps later he was up to sixth and with the battle for fifth between Maverick Viñales, Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso.

Márquez made short work of Dovizioso on the Ducati, with four laps to go, Márquez moved up the order and onto the back wheel of Valentino Rossi. But then he made an unnecessary hard move on Rossi. Márquez went into turn 13 way too hot, smashing into Rossi and pushing him out onto the wet grass, causing Rossi to fall.

Photos from btsports.com, crash.net and yamaha-racing.com.

An exasperated Rossi gesticulated violently as Márquez rode off, apologising. Rossi remounted and finish 19th; Márquez then chased after and passed Viñales for fifth.

The battle for the lead raged on with four riders fighting it out. Miller, Rins, Zarco and Crutchlow.

Miller had been leading comfortably in the tricky conditions, he was caught by the three chasers. Crutchlow steadily past riders from 10th at the start, he watched and waited, conserving his tyres as Zarco, Rins took the challenge to Miller.

Rins kept trying but couldn't make a move stick on Miller until eventually finding his way past to lead with nine laps to go. His lead was short lived, as he made a mistake a lap later and dropped back to the back of the four leaders.

Miller's lead only lasted one lap. Over the tracks wet stream, he ran out wide on the Pramac Ducati at the penultimate corner as he entered the turn a bit fast and dropped to fourth and couldn't stay with Rins.

Crutchlow capitalised on his mistake and took the lead, fighting off Zarco on the final lap to take his first win since Phillip Island, Australia in 2016. Suzuki's Rins took third, with pole man Miller having to settle for fourth place for Pramac Ducati. With Márquez not far behind them as they took the flag.

The podium battle was with Cal Crutchlow, Álex Rins and Johann Zarco, Crutchlow cleverly managed his tyres and fought off several last lap challenges from Zarco to win his third MotoGP race, with Suzuki's Álex Rins scored his first podium in MotoGP, Jack Miller finishing right behind them in fourth.

Behind the four leaders, Viñales battled to fifth, then Márquez squeezed by him two laps to go, with Andrea Dovizioso down to seventh. Former Moto2 champion Tito Rabat had his best MotoGP result crossing the line in eighth ahead of Suzuki's Andrea Iannone, while Malaysian rookie Hafizh Syahrin rode a very impressive race to tenth place ahead of Danilo Petrucci.

Next came KTM's Pol Espargaró, Aprilia's Scott Redding, rookies Takaaki Nakagami and Franco Morbidelli and Factory Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo. The Ducati rider had a strange race, dropping to last on the opening tour and making hardly any progress throughout the race.

At the end of the race, Race control gave Márquez a 30 second penalty for his part in the Rossi crash, which dropped him back to 18th and out of the points, for "irresponsible riding" due to his several aggressive moves - even by Márquez's standards - culminating in one where he forced Valentino Rossi to crash.

GRAN PREMIO MOTUL DE LA REPUBLICA ARGENTINA

MotoGP Race Classification

Termas de Rio Hondo, Sunday, 8 April 2018

Rider Interviews after the race

Winner Cal Crutchlow
LCR Honda Castrol 25 points

"It was nice to win, but it was to be expected to be honest. I came into the weekend thinking I could leave here with a chance of being first or second with Marc (Márquez) and we ended up winning. I was comfortable in the battle, I felt I took no risks and stayed with riders that I probably could have dropped should I have needed to. We have to be pleased, the team has done a fantastic job in the last two races and I think we could have fought for victory no matter which circuit it would have been this weekend. Now we go to Austin and we'll aim for the top five and look to come out of there with strong points. This year I said I wanted to win some races! It's really nice to be part of that group of riders that have been able to win these 750 races for Honda. I've been supported very well by them in the last few years and this year the support is even better."

Second place man Johann Zarco
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 20 points

"It was a pretty difficult race, overall when we had to choose and then the delayed start was quite good for all the riders. Just Jack (Miller) chose the slick from the beginning. From the start there were not so many options for the best line, but behind Dani (Pedrosa) I felt I was stuck, so finally I did the manoeuvre, tried to overtake him. Because of the conditions I went a little bit wide, but that was the way to pass him. I'm sorry that he crashed there. Overall it was a very difficult race today, I was almost crashing. I did my maximum from the start to the end. In fighting with Cal (Crutchlow), I didn't want to do a mistake, so in the end, he deserved this win today. I'm really happy, that I was able to catch this second place!"

Third race finisher Álex Rins
Team Suzuki Ecstar 16 points

"I'm very satisfied with this race, because it wasn't easy and before the start I was nervous due to the delay and everything. But finally, when we started, I was feeling really good from the beginning. When I was behind Miller I was thinking 'OK, maybe I need to overtake him and go', because my feeling was perfect. But when I was leading I made a small mistake - the track was very difficult with the damp patches, especially off the racing line. Myself, my team, and everyone in Japan has worked really hard to have a competitive bike, and we've done it! Texas is one of my favourite tracks, despite the fact that last year I had a fast crash and broke my arm. This year we arrive with strong mentality, more experience, and a great bike."

Fourth Finisher Jack Miller
Alma Pramac Ducati Racing 13 points

"I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed because I wasn't able to fight for the podium after leading the race for a long time. I made a mistake that cost me a lot. But to be honest I'm very happy for this weekend and we've done an incredible job with the team. The decision of Race Direction on the grid? I think they had to make a difficult decision in a moment of great stress".

Marc Márquez - Finished 5th Penalised to 18th
Repsol Honda Team 0 points

"It was a tricky race, in very tough conditions, with several drawbacks. Just before the start I had an issue with the engine, which stopped. We'll look into it later. Anyway, I put my hands up but nobody was there. I was able to restart the bike and then I looked for some input from the marshals, as I wasn't sure if, with the bike running again, I should go to my place on the grid or back to the pits. One marshal raised his hands, and a second one gave the thumbs up, which I interpreted to mean I could stay. When I saw the penalty message on the dashboard, I didn't understand why, but I of course complied. Then I obviously tried push to recover and unfortunately I made some mistakes, the biggest one I believe being with Aleix. I approached faster than him and I didn't realize it. I tried my best to avoid contact but unfortunately I wasn't able. I saw the penalty and, to be safe, gave up two positions, not just one, before starting to push again. With Valentino it was different, as it was a consequence of the track conditions. I touched a wet patch, locked the front, and released the brakes. I tried to turn, again making my best effort to avoid contact. When he crashed I immediately apologised. It was a racing incident as happened earlier with Zarco and Dani, and then with Petrucci and Aleix. It was a tricky Sunday. Of course today I made some mistakes, which I recognize. Other mistakes were made by Race Direction on the grid, and others were due to the difficult conditions, but one thing I know for sure: never in my career have I intentionally hit another rider."

Valentino Rossi - Finished 19th
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 0 points

"I'm OK, but this is a very bad situation. If you take what happened this weekend as an example, one incident can happen to anybody, you can make a mistake in braking, you can touch the other guy. It can happen, it's racing. But from Friday morning on, Márquez did this to Viñales, to Dovizioso, to me, and on Saturday morning, and today he went straight through four riders. If you start to race like this, you raise the level to a very dangerous point. If all the riders race like this, this will become a very dangerous sport and it will finish in a bad way. It's a very dangerous situation and I hope that what I said to Race Director Mike Webb makes them take more responsibility, they have to do something. I'm scared on the track when I'm with Márquez. I was scared today when I saw his name on the board. I'm not Race Direction - they will decide - but like this he is destroying our sport, because when you do 300 km an hour on the track, you have to have respect for your rivals."

Fifth finisher Maverick Viñales
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 11 points

"I think today's race was very important to understand many things. I think that for sure now we can only further improve. I saw many things we can improve in the rain and also in the dry, so I'm feeling quite happy and positive about that. I'm not happy about the result, I wanted to try to win. At the end of the race I had the pace to be at the front, but anyway, I saw many things that will be useful and for sure we are going to improve a lot. Especially in the rain we have to focus in another direction. Now we're on the safe side with the tyres, we have to try and be more aggressive."

Sixth finisher Andrea Dovizioso
Movistar Ducati Team 10 points

"It was a really difficult weekend for us, but in the end we managed to take home some good points on a day in which we weren't quick enough to fight for the podium. I'm happy with the way I managed my race, but in certain conditions and on certain tracks we must still improve because clearly we're not quick enough. The fact that we didn't get many laps in the dry over the weekend didn't help us with setting the bike up but if we look at things from another point of view, I was lucky because three riders fighting for the championship scored three zeroes for different reasons. We go back home quite calm about things, but this weekend showed us that we still have to continue to work on different aspects of our bike."

Seventh finisher Tito Rabat
Reale Avintia Ducati Racing 9 points

"It was a great weekend and I'm extremely happy with the work of my team and the performance of my Ducati. We did a superb job, third on Friday in dry conditions, fourth in qualifying yesterday and today I scored my best result in MotoGP in a very tricky race. Just to finish the race was a success in itself, but being so close to the front was fantastic. It was great to be able to ride in the front group as I saw and learned many things. I'm very happy, but this is only the start. We have to continue to work in the same way and keep improving in the next races."

Best Rookie Ninth finisher Hafizh Syahrin
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team 7 points

"I'm so happy about the result today! I pushed really hard all the weekend, the team did a very good job. I felt truly strong this weekend, we only struggled in qualifying, because I didn't find good grip to stop the bike in a decent way. For the race I was fully motivated, I pushed and when I saw that I was in P15 after the first lap, I was surprised. My pace was really strong and I was able to follow the Factory Yamaha quite easily, but it was difficult to pass the Ducati, because it's very fast on the straight. I tried it many times, but it was not possible. In the end P9 is a really amazing result for me, I have a fantastic feeling with the team and want to pass my congratulations to Johann for his podium. We are very happy and leave Argentina with a great result. I hope I can do also a good race in Austin and will continue to work hard on myself."

Scott Redding 12th Finisher
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 4 points

"It was a very long race. After lining up on the grid, there were some rather confusing moments. Fortunately, the delayed start gave everyone a chance to gain a better understanding of the situation. Today it was basically about interpreting the track conditions straight away and I must say that things worked quite well. I lost ground on the longest straight, whereas on the rest of the track I managed to stay close to my rivals. I am happy with the final result, both because I rediscovered the feeling after Qatar and for the guys on the team who really had to work under pressure today. Riding along with the other riders for the entire race distance also gave me a chance to better understand where the RS-GP and I need to improve and that will help us in the upcoming races."

Jorge Lorenzo 15th Finisher
Ducati Team 1 point

"Today's conditions were the worst possible for me, the ones where I feel most ill-at-ease: having to ride with slicks when the track still has wet patches. In addition, starting from row 5 certainly didn't help me much and, as I was in the middle of the group at the first curve, I had to try and avoid crashing out like last year. Afterwards I tried to make up some positions and when the track finally dried out, I began to lap with good times, something that I hadn't done at all throughout the weekend and my feeling improved. I go away from Argentina with this little positive aspect that gives me the motivation to arrive at Austin and find the way to finally be quick."

Bradley Smith - Did Not Finish
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 0 points

"It was a shame. It was an exciting start to the race and I think I made up twelve positions in the first laps. I was fully committed in the patchy conditions. Unfortunately I had a few situations where riders hit me and I lost a lot of ground. I tried to get my head down and start to come forwards, and my lap-times were coming down but I got too greedy in the first corner and went off-line. I lost the front. It was a frustrating way to end the race but there are a lot of positives from this weekend. I found a good feeling with the bike from FP1 and the performance was there in the race so I need to keep doing the same things and fingers crossed in Austin things will turn out well."

With thanks to www.mcnews.com.au for the interviews.

The championship now has a new leader and he's British!

Cal Crutchlow now leads the championship - the first British rider to do so since Barry Sheene in 1979 - by three points from Dovizioso, with Zarco in third.

Maverick Viñales' consistency sees him fourth ahead of Márquez, while Miller now moves to sixth.

Current Championship table

MotoGP World Standing 8 April 2018

Compiled and supplied by motogp.com

Both races this season have been very different and both very exciting. The Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas, USA, is in a fortnight and it's going to be another terrific race.

As I've said, the only thing certain in MotoGP is that nothing is certain!

Today's race show just how great motorcycle racing is and why this is the most exciting, unpredictable and thrilling sport in the world!

I'll start my build up for the next race with a preview of Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

So come here back soon!

- Roland Potter