A decisive victory at the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina, coupled with a DNF by Qatar GP winner Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), has given Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) the lead in the 2016 MotoGP championship.

Marc Marquez leads Tito Rabat in Argentina

Image by Honda Racing

Michelin were unsure about the safety of the rear tyres they had brought to Argentina after the rear tyre on Scott Redding’s Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati failed during FP4 yesterday. This prompted a number of changes including the withdrawal of both of the rear tyres that were scheduled to be used. They were replaced by an extra “special” rear tyre of a harder construction and the riders should have been given an extra 30 minute practice session this morning to gather data about these new tyres.

These plans all came to nought when the extra practice session was cancelled as rain meant that the riders could not go out on the slick tyres they were supposed to test. The normal warm-up session was extended by 10 minutes but it was also wet so the riders had no chance to test the new tyres.

Although it was still overcast when the riders lined up for the start of the race, the rain had gone and the race was declared a 20 lap flag-to-flag race with the riders having to make a mandatory pit stop to change bikes on either the ninth, tenth or eleventh lap. As the riders hadn’t had a change to test the “new” tyres the original tyre allocation was used.

When the lights went out to signal the start of the race Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) got the hole shot into turn 1 but he was not happy with his bike and had dropped down to sixth by the end of the lap. With Lorenzo dropping back Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) used the power of the Ducati to take the lead with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Marquez not far behind. Rossi was looking for a way past Dovizioso at every opportunity and, while he was getting by, Marquez sneaked through on both of them to take the lead.

Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team), who made contact with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) on the opening lap, worked his way back up the field and joined his teammate in a battle for third. Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) got past Lorenzo and was just behind the Ducatis. Lorenzo’s race was short lived, the Yamaha rider crashed out at turn 1 on the sixth lap. While he was unhurt, the same could not be said for his bike and the Qatar winner was forced to watch the remainder of the race from the sidelines.

Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone battle it out

Image by Ducati Press

At the front Rossi closed the gap to Marquez and shortly before the pit stops was able to get in front but Marquez reclaimed the lead before the next corner. Marquez and Rossi pitted at the same time to change bikes. There was no change in position during the stop but when they re-joined the circuit Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), who was yet to pit, ended up in second place between them. This allowed Marquez to open a gap that grew to over seven second by the end of the race.

Viñales, who had managed to get past the factory Ducati pair and into third place before the pit stops, was soon up with Rossi and fighting for second while Iannone and Dovizioso swapped positions behind them. Rossi kept Viñales behind him and the youngster came under pressure from Iannone behind unfortunately crashing out at turn 1 with three laps to go. Iannone then set after Rossi blasting past him a lap later but in doing so he opened the door for Dovizioso to get past both of them.

While Marquez was untroubled at the front, the final lap began with Dovizioso in second and Iannone in third with Rossi in their wheel tracks trying to find a way through. Iannone was not content with the final step on the podium, however, and tried a desperate move to get past his teammate at turn 12. It all went wrong and both Ducatis slid into the kitty litter.

This promoted Rossi to second and Pedrosa, who had been out of the top ten after his first lap contact with Iannone, to third. Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team MotoGP) ended fourth and as the top Independent Team rider, by far Laverty’s best result in MotoGP. He was just ahead of Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing).

Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) secured a solid sixth ahead of Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), who secured Aprilia’s best race result since returning with a factory entry. Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), completed the top ten.