#ArgentinaGP Sunday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Take a bow, Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team)! From start to finish, the Italian MotoGP™ sophomore was untouchable as he produced a wet weather masterclass to claim a debut premier class victory – and with it, the World Championship lead. There were plenty of storylines as a charging Johann Zarco(Prima Pramac Racing) grabbed a late P2 to beat Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) to the rostrum, and reigning World Champion Francesco Bagnaia(Ducati Lenovo Team) crashed unhurt from P2, ultimately crossing the line in P16.
The threat of a flag-to-flag race loomed but more rain fell after the Moto2™ race as the premier class revved up for a 25-lap fully wet encounter. After an atmospheric national anthem through the rain, Bezzecchi grabbed the holeshot from polesitter Alex Marquez, with Bagnaia third and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) slotting into P4. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) didn’t get away well, and Tissot Sprint hero Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashed at Turn 5 after contact with the Aprilia rider too.
Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) then lost out at Turn 7 to Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) as the two almost came together, and the Frenchman dropped to P16 in the early exchanges. But as the race settled down, Bezzecchi was able to stretch out a second lead over Alex Marquez, with Bagnaia and Morbidelli keeping in touch. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) was a winner in the early stages as well, up to P5 but with the gap to Morbidelli hovering around 2.7s.
With 17 laps left on the clock, Bezzecchi’s lead was up to two seconds. A lap later it was 2.6s. The Italian was a class apart from the chasing pack in the early stages, and as the Grand Prix approached race distance, his lead kept on creeping up. Bagnaia was keeping second-placed Alex Marquez on his toes too as just 0.9s split the duo, with Morbidelli sitting 1.5s back from Pecco in a comfortable P4.
On Lap 15 of 25, Alex Marquez and Bagnaia engaged in battle. After a couple of attempts, the reigning Champion finally got the better of Marquez, and Morbidelli closed in too. But then, drama. At the penultimate corner at the end of Lap 17, Bagnaia tucked the front. The former World Championship leader was down, not out, but he re-joined in P16. That promoted Alex Marquez into P2 and Morbidelli into P3, with the two then looking over their shoulders for Zarco. The Frenchman was setting a blistering pace and a podium wasn’t out of reach, the number 5 3.7s back from Morbidelli’s Yamaha.
With five to go, Zarco kept gobbling up the metres. The deficit was now 2.1s, as countryman Quartararo also made good late race progress. The #20 was up to P7 from the very back of the pack. With four to go, it was down to 1.4s on Zarco watch. Morbidelli was coming under pressure first, but so was Marquez if the latter wanted to keep his P2 intact.
At Turn 7 with two and a half laps to go, Zarco was through on Morbidelli for P3. Now, the Frenchman locked his radar on Marquez’ GP22. And on the last lap at Turn 5, Marquez could do nothing but watch Zarco stick his GP23 up the inside and slice on through. The Frenchman was on a roll.
A few seconds up the road, Bezzecchi was on even more of a roll. The Italian rounded the final corner to cross the line as a MotoGP™ race winner and World Championship leader after a flawless race, a class apart on Sunday. Zarco beat Marquez by half a second in what was another stunning comeback ride, getting back on the podium for the first time since the Sachsenring last year. For his part, Alex Marquez makes it podiums on two different machines in the premier class.
Despite narrowly missing out on a return to the podium, a resurgent Morbidelli will be very pleased with a P4 after a very difficult run of form. P5 went the way of Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) came from P16 on the grid to finish P6, and Quartararo climbs from P16 to P7 in what was a great recovery ride from the 2021 World Champion.
Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) and Di Giannantonio rounded out the top 10, with rookie Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) going very well in P11. It was a disappointing day for Viñales and Aprilia Racing, however, with the Spaniard in P12 ahead of Nakagami, Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) and a lowly 15th-placed Aleix Espargaro. Not the weekend the Noale factory were looking for. Bagnaia and Binder, the two crashers, crossed the line together in P16 and P17 – also a frustrating Sunday for both.
Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) was our last wet weather winner in the intermediate class, and the Italian did it again at Termas de Rio Hondo to take his first victory of the season. After a podium to begin the year in Portimao, the number 14 now leads the Championship to boot! Polesitter Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools Speed Up) was forced to settle for second after getting passed late on, with Jake Dixon(GASGAS Aspar Team) completing the podium and making his first visit to parc ferme this season.
There was immediate drama for Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) as he jumped the start, gaining a double Long Lap for the trouble. Lopez’ start was the opposite and a little late, so it was Dixon into the lead early on. Soon enough, however, a breakaway group of Dixon, Lopez and Arbolino started to disappear into the distance.
After leading the way for much of the shortened 14-lap dash – due to weather conditions after Moto2™ had no wet practice time – Lopez lost the lead in the final few laps with a small mistake, and then just couldn’t get back on terms with Arbolino. It remained close but not close enough, with the Italian taking victory by 0.663. Dixon, after that early lead, faded slightly but took home his first trophy of the season for third.
Canet stormed to an impressive recovery of fourth place, but he was somewhat upstaged by his teammate in those stakes. Via a Long Lap given after he caused contact with another rider in Q2, rookie Sergio Garcia still stormed from P28 on the grid all the way into the top five after a seriously impressive Sunday.
The rider in sixth also impressed: Darryn Binder (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP). The South African showed some chops as he settles into the intermediate class, with Filip Salač (QJMotor Gresini Moto2™) next up. Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was classified eighth after being demoted a position for last lap track limits, with Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) completing the top ten.
So where was Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo)? It was a tougher Sunday for the star of the season opener, coming home in P12 and losing that points lead.
Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) got back on the top step in stunning style at Termas de Rio Hondo, taking a Grand Prix win for the first time since 2020. The Japanese rider put in a wet weather masterclass to finish nearly five seconds clear of the chasing pack, with Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) and replacement rider Andrea Migno (CIP Green Power) completing the podium after a close fight to the flag.
Suzuki shot off into the lead early doors, and two of the first on the chase were Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) and Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing). But bad luck hit for both, Sasaki after contact with replacement rider David Almansa (CFMoto Racing PrüstelGP) saw him get a +1 position penalty before he crashed out, and Masia once he’d started to reel in his teammate. The number 5 also slid out.
Heading into the latter stages, the fight behind Suzuki saw Moreira, an impressive Almansa, Migno, Scott Ogden (VisionTrack Racing Team) and Riccardo Rossi(SIC58 Squadra Corse) locked close together. Some drama hit as Ogden had a moment and then made contact with Almansa, the Spaniard crashing out and receiving no reward for a truly impressive performance replacing Joel Kelso, before more not too long after as Rossi slid out.
That left Moreira vs Migno and the Brazilian stayed ahead, claiming second in very different conditions to his first GP podium in Portugal. Migno was happy with third, however, showing his pace when called on as a replacement this weekend.
Ogden crossed the line fourth but was given a time penalty for the contact that saw Almansa crash out – the equivalent of two Long Laps – and the Brit is therefore classified fifth, behind Portuguese GP winner Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3), who retains the Championship lead. Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team), Kaito Toba (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Xavi Artigas (CFMoto Racing PrüstelGP) despite a crash, Ryusei Yamanaka (Autosolar GASGAS Moto3™) and David Salvador (CIP Green Power).