Marquez clinches victory and championship lead in Argentina

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© Gold & Goose/Red Bull Content Pool
Marc Marquez, Argentinian MotoGP, 3rd April 2016.

A faultless flag-to-flag race by Marc Marquez saw him dominate the Argentina GP, running away with victory from Rossi and Pedrosa.

Issues with the rear tyre of Scott Redding’s (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) Ducati during Free Practice 4 on Saturday saw a raft of changes brought in. Michelin and Race Direction were unsure about the safety of rear tyres brought to the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina, and came to the decision to reduce the race from 25 laps to 20. As Warm Up had been held in wet conditions and the race started dry, riders were required to come in on their ninth, tenth or 11th lap of the race and change to their second bike. There were therefore no concerns about fuel or tyre life, riders able to give it their all on both stints.

Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the only rider to opt for the harder rear tyre. The entire front row started with hard fronts and medium rear. With dark clouds looming overhead the race got underway, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) getting the hole shot into Turn 1. Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) got a great start but came into contact with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), forcing them both wide and dropping Pedrosa outside the top ten.

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Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) used the power of the Ducati to hit the lead early with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) behind. The factory Ducati would head the field across the line on lap one with Rossi just behind, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) an ever-present threat. Meanwhile, Lorenzo plummeted down the field and soon found himself in sixth.

As the first lap came to a close, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Aleix Espargaro fell, both able to re-join the race. Carving his way through field, Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was up to seventh as the second lap began, slotting in behind Lorenzo and then passing him soon after.

The leading trio continually tightened, Valentino Rossi sniffing up the inside of Dovizioso at every chance he got. This opened the door for Marquez, the Spaniard sliding through on both Rossi and Dovizioso to begin lap four in the lead of the race.

Miller’s charge would be unfortunately short lived as the Australian rider fell on lap four at Turn 3. All the while, Marquez pushed ahead and attempted to open a gap, the top three divided evenly by half a second. Dovizioso then found himself with teammate Iannone for company, Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) eagerly waiting to pick up the pieces of the Ducati battle.

Riders frantically glanced at their pit boards as they roared down the straight, their teams doing all they could to keep them up to date with bike change strategy. Lorenzo’s race would get even worse as with 15 laps to go he suffered yet another fall at Turn 1, ending his race. After the perfect weekend in Qatar, few imagined the World Champion would fail to finish in Argentina.

Marquez and Rossi continued to sprint away at the front, Marquez 0.8s ahead with Rossi two and a half second in front of the all-Ducati battle for third. The gap wouldn’t stand as a distinct hint of déjà vu began to appear, Rossi rapidly closing in on Marquez. On lap nine of the race, Rossi took the lead down the back straight but Marquez responded straight away to cut back ahead.

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