After dominating the Argentina MotoGP practice and qualifying sessions at Termas de Rio Hondo and earning a third consecutive pole position start, Marc Marquez got caught up in traffic early, falling as far back as seventh place during the opening laps of the race. Starting from second on the grid, Jorge Lorenzo launched from the line to take the holeshot into turn one, leading the pack into the first ever MotoGP race at the circuit. By lap 5 of the 25-lap race, Marquez was back up to 2nd behind Lorenzo. Marquez’ Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa started in the number two spot on the front row but was also shuffled to mid pack on lap one and spent the first half of the race in a battle with Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) before making his move around Bradl and three other riders to close the gap on race leader Lorenzo.
Marquez bided his time behind Lorenzo for 13 laps but finally made a move on lap 17, passing him comfortably and opening up a two-second lead in the next three laps. Pedrosa then began to close the gap on Lorenzo to challenge him for second place. He set the fastest lap of the race (1’39.233) on lap 22 and then on the penultimate lap he passed Lorenzo to claim second place for the Repsol Honda Team.Lorenzo’s Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi was briefly in second early on, but ran wide twice and dropped to seventh before fighting his way back up to fourth. Rossi began to move up and showed a fast enough pace to have challenged Marquez, but an unfortunate mistake by Stefan Bradl under braking pushed him wide while running in fourth, costing valuable time and any chance of a podium. Rossi was able to retain fourth, crossing the line less than five seconds from first place.
Solid runs from Bradl (who came back from a high-side crash during Saturday qualifying) and Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) saw them finish fifth and sixth but with lap times (15s and 19s respectively) far off the lead pace.
Monster Yamaha Tech3 teammates Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro were safely inside the top ten, which was completed by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and top ‘Open’ rider Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar), who crossed the finish line 0.073s in front of teammate Nicky Hayden.
Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) was 15th after an early crash, while a first-lap crash resulted in another DNF for Alvaro Baustista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) and Danilo Petrucci (IodaRacing Project).
After the race, Marquez said, “The first lap was very difficult and we lost some ground, but we focused and recovered well. The key to winning this race was managing the tires well, especially the rear tire. My riding style can be very hard on rear tires, so I had to focus hard to save some tires for the end.” He added, “I know the season is very long. Of course in Jerez we will try and win as we never know what will happen in the future. Dani is very strong and only 19 points behind me and we’re going to his favorite circuit.”
Said Pedrosa, “Unfortunately I was not so quick at the beginning, after all the mess of lap one I was stuck with the group and couldn’t make an early pass to be quicker. In the end I was coming strong, though it took me some laps to find the rhythm. I enjoyed it but also kind of hated it because I was alone in third for much of the race. It is a great result for the team and next week is Jerez, which is a track I like.”