This weekend, MotoGP heads to Argentina and the Termas de Río Hondo track for the second round of the 2019 season, the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina.
Renowned for its controversial and thrilling races, we take a look at what to expect from the weekend ahead.
Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina Track Guide
- 4.8km long
- 5 left and 9 right-hand corners
- a 1km back straight
- Lap record: 1:37.683 (2014)
Built in 2007 and then overhauled in 2012, the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo has been on the MotoGP calendar since 2014.
High temperatures and abrasive surfaces often see the Termas de Río Hondo renowned as one of Michelin’s biggest tests of the season.
Pairing this with the fact that, since their return to MotoGP in 2016, Michelin are yet to enjoy a dry race weekend in Argentina, and we have a recipe for chaos!
Nine-time Champions, Valentino Rossi stated that “Argentina is a particular track for the layout but especially the asphalt and the weather.Looks like this year will be difficult with the weather like last year so I hope we can be lucky to get a dry race.”
MotoGP 2019: Last time out in Qatar
The travelling circus that is the 2019 MotoGP season kicked off in style two weeks ago in Qatar, where history seemed to be repeating itself.
A thrilling last lap battle, culminating in a lunge for the line, saw Andrea Dovizioso win by just 0.023 seconds ahead of Marc Marquez.
Just behind them, another late battle was being fought, with Cal Crutchlow managing to just get the better of Alex Rins and secure the final podium spot.
Despite starting in fourteenth, Valentino Rossi laid down an impressive performance to finish in fifth, just six tenths of a second behind the race winner. His team-mate, and pole-sitter, Maverick Viñales, was only able to secure seventh, just behind Danilo Petrucciand his factory Ducati in sixth.
MotoGP 2018: Last year in Argentina
Possibly the most controversial race of the 2018 MotoGP season, Argentina saw a huge delay to the start of the race as all the riders pushed their bikes off the grid to change tires. This was caused by track conditions improving quicker than expected.
All except pole sitter, Jack Miller, who stayed out on track after already choosing to race on slick tyres. He was therefore awarded a controversial, and never-seen-before, head start of four rows.
Quite possibly one of the most bizarre races in MotoGP history was won by Cal Crutchlow. The Brit managed to fend off a last-lap challenge from Johann Zarco, who finished in second ahead of Alex Rins and his first MotoGP podium.
Marquez, still reigning champion at the time, had a truly bad day in the office. After stalling his bike on the grid, he rode the wrong way back to his position. A resulting ride-through penalty pushed him back to nineteenth on the grid before eventually crawling back up to fifth.
However, his journey up the track was not an easy one and he received much criticism for his aggressive moves. This included an incident with Rossi, which forced him off the track. A post-race time penalty of 30 seconds, given for this “irresponsible riding”, dragged him back to a dismal eighteenth.
What to expect from the 2019 Argentina MotoGP
Argentina and the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo are renowned for controversial, exciting and close-fought races. But will we see a finish quite as close as the 2019 season opener?
Dovizioso is full of confidence after making the “best start possible” to his 2019 season. He stated that “We have started the World Championship in the best possible way, with the victory in Qatar. But the season is long and experience has taught us that cannot let our guard down.”
However, the Italian has struggled at the Argentinian track, having only secured one top 5 finish since 2014.
Last years race winner, Crutchlow, is keen to prove the doubters wrong. His pre-season testing schedule may have suffered after a nasty ankle injury, but he hopes his podium in Qatar is a sign of the times.
He commented that “I’ve always had a great relationship with the track. We always have a lot of fans come out here which is good. They always like to come out and watch us race and hopefully we can put on a good show for them.”
Feature Image Credit: MotoGP.com
Posted on 29th March, 2019 for The Checkered Flag
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