Argentina: an unstoppable Viñales meets a movable Marquez
On paper, the first few winners of the MotoGP world championship are often supposed to read like this: Lorenzo, Marquez, Marquez. But that’s from a different book written before 2017, as Maverick Viñales keeps editing the chapters and creating his own turf. And whilst the new Yamaha rider anchors us in this new present, Marc Marquez is having flashbacks – to 2015.
Much was made of the “new Marquez” last season, as the Repsol Honda man ironed out the mistakes and rash decisions of a difficult 2015 to take back the crown with weapons not often previously seen in his armoury: patience and control. Proud of that title win and rightly so, the rider from Cervera seemed a changed man. Until sliding out of the lead with two seconds of advantage in Argentina, pushing like there was no tomorrow.
2015 gave us a difficult task to paint the full picture with an injured Dani Pedrosa only back up to strength in the latter half of the season, but in 2017 Repsol Honda’s loss in Argentina can at least be something of a psychological gain for Marquez, because Pedrosa also crashed out of contention – in exactly the same place. Marquez knows, at least, that the mistake was there to make. He also knows the pace was there – the problem now being that the points are not.
- 2017 Grand Prix of Argentina - Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo -
We knew Viñales was going to be good, but it’s now beginning to become apparent quite how good – to fans, to his team, and to his rivals.
Maybe it was a bumpy corner with a more challenging bike that caused a mistake that happened to cost a lot. Maybe it was a 2015 style error under pressure. Or maybe the new Marquez is still here – it’s just a different landscape he has to race in because there is no early advantage, no gap to manage and no chinks yet shown in Viñales’ armour. Marquez simply has to push, and he knows it.
Or maybe, it’s just round two – and MotoGP will do what it always does just when you least expect it, and everything will change again in Texas.
Both Marc Marquez and brother Alex will be hoping everything will change in round two, although the results more than the pace. Alex highsided out of the Moto2 race in one final push to catch his teammate for the win, after the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders had simply disappeared into the distance.
- Miguel Oliveira - Red Bull KTM Ajo - Franco Morbidelli - MarcVDS - Thomas Luthi - CarXpert Interwetten -
A duel for the lead saw eventual winner Franco Morbidelli then left to take a stunning and imperious second victory of the year unaware of the drama behind, but Alex picked up his damaged Kalex for a finish like a flashback to Michael van der Mark’s café racer Honda at the German round of WorldSBK last year – as well as giving us one of the most enduring images of the weekend as he was consoled by a mechanic on the walk back to the box.
Much is made of the long game in terms of titles, but in life more is often made of trying. And try they did, regardless of the outcome – Viñales, Marc Marquez, Morbidelli, Alex Marquez… Brad Binder, who somehow got a top ten finish in Moto2 with an arm still so badly injured the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider will now undergo further surgery on it. Mir, McPhee, Martin…Miguel Oliveira taking KTM’s first intermediate class podium…Kaito Toba getting his first top ten…Red Bull KTM Factory Racing scoring their first MotoGP points…
- Pol Espargaro & Bradley Smith - KTM RC126 -
Given some stiff competition of late, Argentina wasn’t the greatest weekend of racing. But it gave us some of the moments that could well be back on the tips of our tongues come Valencia, some fantastic performances and another podium for the greatest Sunday rider of them all - Valentino Rossi - in no less than his 350th GP.
So as always happens after a race weekend, some will celebrate and some will commiserate. But one thing we can all celebrate is how incredible each 2017 championship is shaping up to be, already – and we’ve only had two rounds.
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