MCPHEE AND REDDING CHASE ARGENTINE REPEATS
John McPhee and Scott Redding chase repeat performances at the second round of the MotoGP™ World Championship in Argentina on Sunday. In the opening Qatar round Scotsman McPhee was a superb second in the Moto3™ race while Gloucestershire’s Redding’s seventh place in the MotoGP race was a tremendous morale booster before they arrive at the 2.986 miles Termas de Rio Honda circuit, which is situated 500 miles north – west of Buenos Aires.
After a difficult time in pre-season testing on the Octo Pramac Ducati, Redding hit top form in Qatar and finished under ten seconds behind race winner Maverick Vinales. In the same Qatar race, Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith made his factory debut on the new KTM. Together with team-mate Pol Espargaro he was delighted to finish the first ‘proper’ grand prix for the team and will be moving on to finish in the points at the next two races in Argentina and Austin two weeks later.
Moto2™ Grand Prix winner Sam Lowes also finished the race on his MotoGP debut. The Lincolnshire rider gained valuable experience on the Gresini Aprilia and will be encouraged by the sixth place finish of his team-mate Aleix Espargaro. Qatar was a tough weekend for double MotoGP grand prix winner Cal Crutchlow. After a big crash in practice from the LCR Honda, he crashed again in the early stages of the race. The Isle of Man based Midlander bravely remounted but fell again when the throttle stuck open. He will be seeking a change of fortune at the circuit where he finished third two years ago.
Oban – based McPhee gave the British Talent Honda team a tremendous debut in Qatar in an eight rider race for victory under the floodlights. It was his first grand prix since a serious injury sustained at the Australian Grand Prix in November last year and the 22-year-old can expect another big Moto3™ fight in the 21 lap race on Sunday. Wiltshire’s Danny Kent was 13th in the Qatar Moto2 race after impressing during practice. He returns to the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit where he won the Moto3 race two years on route to the world title.
DID YOU KNOW
• This year’s event at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit is the 14th motorcycle grand prix to be held in Argentina.
• The first Argentinean GP took place in 1961 and was held in Buenos Aires; the first time that a grand prix had taken place outside of Europe. Not all of the top riders attended the event and the 52 lap, 203 km, 500cc race was won by home rider Jorge Kissling (Matchless) from fellow countryman Juan Carlos Salatino (Norton).
• This is the fourth year that the Argentinean GP has taken place at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. All of the ten previous grand prix in Argentina had taken place in Buenos Aires, the last of which was in 1999.
• Three riders from Argentina have won grand prix races; Sebastian Porto (seven wins in the 250cc class), Benedicto Caldarella and Jorge Kissling who both had single victories in the 500cc class.
• The last GP win by an Argentinean rider was in the 250cc class at the Dutch TT in 2005, when Sebastian Porto won the race from Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.
• The only current full-time grand prix rider who has raced in grand prix at the Buenos Aires circuit is Valentino Rossi, who won the 250cc race in 1998 & was third in 1999.
• Marc Marquez has twice won the MotoGP™ race in Argentina from pole position – in 2014 and 2016. He was also on pole in Argentina in 2015, but crashed when battling for the lead.
• The only rider other than Marquez to win a MotoGP race at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit is Valentino Rossi, who won on the 2015 race after starting down in 8th place on the grid.
• Andrea Dovizioso’s second place finish in 2015 is the only podium finish for a Ducati rider in Argentina.
• The best result for a Suzuki rider at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit is seventh with Aleix Espargaro two years ago.
• Stefan Bradl finished seventh last year in Argentina which was the best result for Aprilia the MotoGP class since Noriyuki Haga finished seventh at the British Grand Prix at Donington in 2003.
• The three Moto2™ races that have taken place at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit have been won by riders now competing in the MotoGP class: Tito Rabat in 2014, Johann Zarco in 2015 & 2016. In each of the past three years the Moto2 race winner in Argentina has gone on to take the world title.
• Last year in Argentina Khairul Idham Pawi won the Moto3™ race – the first Malaysian rider to win a grand prix race in any class.
MORE OF THE SAME PLEASE
All we ask is more of the same please in Argentina on Sunday after a superb opening round of the 2017 MotoGP™ World Championship in Qatar. Twenty-two-year-old Spaniard Maverick Vinales fought off the challenge of veteran warhorses Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi in a fight to the flag in the 20 lap race. Vinales was making his Movistar Yamaha debut and can expect even more challengers around the 2.986 miles Termas de Rio Hondo circuit situated some 500 miles north- west of Buenos Aries.
Rossi, the winner two years ago and Dovizioso, second in that 2015 race will be joined by World Champion Marc Marquez who brought Repsol Honda victory in 2014 and last year, and his team-mater Dani Pedrosa. Marquez was fourth in Qatar after a wrong tyre choice but has a great record in Argentina. Dovizioso was set for another podium finish last year when he was knocked off by his Ducati team-mate Andrea Iannone two bends from the finish. Iannone left Ducati to replace Vinales at Ecstar Suzuki and crashed out in Qatar while contesting the podium. His new team-mate Alex Rins, who was an impressive ninth in Qatar on his MotoGP debut, could miss the race after breaking his ankle in a motocross training crash.
Three times MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo made a disappointing Ducati debut finishing 11th in Qatar but he returned to test in Jerez with team-mate Dovizioso and will be pushing for podium finishes and race wins by the time we reach Europe.
There were some stand out performances in Qatar and the likes of Aleix Espargaro who brought Aprilia their best ever MotoGP result in sixth, Scott Redding, Jack Miller and rookie Jonas Folger would be delighted with a repeat showing. Double Moto2™ World Champion Johann Zarco, Folger’s team-mate at Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, made a sensational start to his MotoGP career leading the established stars until he crashed. The Frenchman returns to the circuit where he’s won for the last two years. Other fallers looking to open their account are Cal Crutchlow, who crashed twice from the LCR Honda and Alvaro Bautista who was so impressive in pre-season testing.
Italian Franco Morbidelli stamped his mark on the Moto2™ Championship with his maiden victory in Qatar riding the Marc VDS machine. With four of the leading Moto2 riders joining MotoGP, the race gave an indication of what to expect with Tom Luthi and Takaaki Nakagami on the podium. There were impressive performances by Miquel Oliviera riding the new KTM into fourth place in front of former Moto3™ World Champion Alex Marquez. Last year’s surprise Moto3 winner in Argentina, Khairul Idham Pawi, makes his second Moto2 appearance after a disappointing 28th in Qatar.
Nothing changed in Moto3 with the first eight Qatar finishers separated by less than nine tenths of a second. Joan Mir pulled off a superb victory over John McPhee and Jorge Martin and the 21 lap race on Sunday could be a similar last bend shoot –out.
BT SPORT 2
Friday 7 April : 13.00 – 20.00
Saturday 8 April: 13.00 – 20.15
Sunday 9 April: 13.30 – 22.00
Highlights Monday April 10 19.00
talkSport2 will also have live commentary of the race on Sunday.