Marc Marquez takes MotoGP Championship lead after Argentina victory

Marc Marquez dominated the Argentinian MotoGP and now leads the championship
Marc Marquez dominated the Argentinian MotoGP and now leads the championship

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was just unstoppable at the 25-lap Argentina GP. The reigning world champion’s victory was his 45th MotoGP win and his 79th podium as well as his biggest ever-winning margin in a dry MotoGP race.

The Spaniard was sensational around the 2.986 mile Termas de Rio Hondo circuit and heads to Austin, Texas for round three of the 2019 championship at the Red Bull Gran Prix of The Americas, April 12 -14, leading the world championship, 4 points clear of Andrea Dovizioso who had to settle for third place behind Valentino Rossi in the race.

MotoGP podium L-R Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso

MotoGP podium L-R Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso

From the lights going out at the start of the race no one saw the way Marquez went. His lap times were a second quicker than the rest and he just opened up a gap that was never closed to the chequered flag where he finished 9.816 seconds ahead of second placed Valentino Rossi. The only rider that might have taken the race to the defending champion was British LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow. The winner from 2018 was in the chasing pack before race direction adjudged that he has jumped the start and gave him a ride through penalty, costing the Honda man 25 seconds and no chance of a podium. It was an angry Crutchlow who emphatically denied the charge after the race. “They say that I’m rolling but on all of our images and even on there images I’m not rolling. I’m way behind the line and I didn’t jump the start.” Crutchlow eventually salvaged three points finishing 13th after Franco Morbidelli and Maverick Vinales crashed out on the last lap of the race.

As Marquez claimed his first race win of the 2019 season the battle for second was hotting up between Andrea Dovizioso on the Mission Winnow Ducati and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi. Rossi started from the fourth row of the grid but made a great start to slot in to second in the early laps ahead of Dovizioso, Jack Miller Pramac Ducati, Franco Morbidelli on the Petronas Yamaha SRT and Cal Crutchlow.

Rossi and Dovizioso pulled away from the rest and although Rossi used the better handling of the Yamaha to keep the Ducati man at bay Dovizioso always had the upper hand on the fast straights. With ‘Dovi’ in front going on to the final lap Rossi was planning his move and at Turn 7 he made a block pass and opened a slight but decisive gap to the chequered flag to take his first podium since Sachsenring last year. Jack Miller managed to hold off a late charge from Team Ecstar Suzuki rider Alex Rins with Danilo Petrucci on the second Mission Winnow Ducati completing the top six.

A delighted race winner Marc Marquez said. “Today was a perfect day. I have been so concentrated since FP1 and everything worked well, just a tiny hiccup in FP4. But we kept pushing, pushing and in the race I knew that my strongest point was the first five laps. I put everything in and then I saw the difference, one second, two seconds, three seconds and then I settled into my rhythm and pushed a little less. I managed the tyres and the bike, it was a really sweet feeling with the bike.”

Second place Valentino Rossi had the record crowd on their feet cheering the popular Italian to his first podium of the season and it was a happy Yamaha rider who said. “I ride like when I was young today. It’s been a long time – since Sachsenring last year – that I’ve been on the podium. This second place is especially satisfying, because at the last two races last year, Malaysia and Valencia, I was lying in first and second place, but I made some mistakes. Finishing the championship like that was very difficult to accept, so also for this reason this result is so important for me, my team, and Yamaha, after a difficult period. I’m so happy! I tried to stay in front, because I expected to be faster, but today with the increased temperatures I struggled a bit more. Dovi stayed in front of me and rode a very good race with a good pace. We were able to break away from the guys behind us and be on our own. In that moment I knew I had to be very precise on braking to take second place, without making any mistake of even 1cm, else Dovi would pass me again. At that moment I was riding good, I entered very fast. I’m happy because, first of all, overtaking on the last lap is always special, and also because I did very good on braking.”

Dovizioso added “I’m undoubtedly happy with the podium, which was our goal ahead of this round on a historically difficult track for us. On the other hand I’m not particularly satisfied with how the rear tyre performed, because we couldn’t pull away towards the end of the race, which was the opposite of what we expected in light of what we’ve seen in practice. In the final lap, I couldn’t shake off Rossi or pass him back. It would have been too risky and 16 points are still very important for us.

Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) made it two from two in 2019 as he took victory in the Moto2 race. The Italian played the waiting game and made his move in the closing stages of the race to take the win from early leader, Australian Remy Gardner who rode to a superb first podium, with Alex Marquez coming home third.

Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) took a stunning first win from his first pole position in Argentina crossing the line ahead of a fabulous ride through the field for Darryn Binder with Tony Arbolino completing the podium. It was the first visit to the rostrum for all three.