In a heated fight against Jorge Martin in MotoGP’s Termas de Rio Hondo race, Aleix Espargaro achieved an incredible milestone win for himself and Aprilia.
Espargaro’s 200th MotoGP start resulted in the Spaniard’s first-ever premier-class victory for his Italian company, as well as his own first victory in any class of grand prix racing.
Espargaro’s Aprilia was slow off the line, but he was able to limit the damage with a strong entry into Turn 1 that put him second only to a quick-starting Martin – whose half-second lead was swiftly reduced.
The duo then made easy work of separating themselves from the field, monopolizing the lead for the first ten laps, when Espargaro slipped a second behind Martin due to a series of sub-optimal corners.
He was back on Martin’s tail a few laps later and placing pressure on the Pramac driver, which grew more sustained lap after lap.
With eight laps remaining, Espargaro slipstreamed past Martin out of Turn 4, only to lose the place when he failed to get his braking right into Turn 5. Two laps later, he tried again at the same location, but was unable to stop his RS-GP in time.
The third time was the charm, as Espargaro promptly went about eking out a lead after completing the pass at Turn 5, doing just enough to keep the Ducati sophomore and his great top speed at bay along the circuit’s two main straights.
Espargaro had to wait until the last lap to eventually break Martin’s resistance, but the Aprilia triumphed by eight tenths and seized the championship lead.
Suzuki’s Alex Rins completed the podium behind Martin, who had gotten off to a good start for the season after two crashes in the first two races. Rins had clawed his way up to third early on but was never able to close the margin the leading duo had set.
Joan Mir made it two Suzukis in the top four, while Francesco Bagnaia of Ducati clawed his way up from 13th to fifth, with him and KTM rider Brad Binder outfoxing Espargaro’s Aprilia team-mate Maverick Vinales late in the race.
With both Franco Morbidelli and Andrea Dovizioso foiled by apparent mechanical troubles, reigning champion Fabio Quartararo had a difficult race, slipping as low as 13th before rebounding to a final eighth place as Yamaha’s solitary points-scorer of the day.
Despite sending Alex Marquez and Stefan Bradl – who was filling in for Marc Marquez – out wide at the start, VR46 Ducati rookie Marco Bezzecchi finished tenth.
Enea Bastianini (Gresini Ducati) was hampered by a botched Turn 5 overtaking attempt on his former teammate Luca Marini, but he eventually recovered to 10th, with Marini who stayed in the fight for third early on after starting from the front row but eventually faded right behind him, just 0.040s ahead of Takaaki Nakagami, who was originally supposed to miss this race due to a positive COVID-19
Both KTM’s Indonesian GP champion Miguel Oliveira and works Ducati rider Jack Miller had a rough day, finishing 13th and 14th, respectively, with Marquez (LCR Honda) completing the podium.
Pol Espargaro (Honda), Aleix’s brother, was the most high-profile faller, crashing out of fourth place while chasing Rins. Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Pramac Ducati) were also involved in crashes, in addition to the Honda factory rider (Gresini Ducati).
MOTOGP ARGENTINA, TERMAS – RACE RESULTS
|1||Aleix Espargaro||SPA||Aprilia Racing (RS-GP)||41m 36.198s|
|2||Jorge Martin||SPA||Pramac Ducati (GP22)||+0.807s|
|3||Alex Rins||SPA||Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR)||+1.330s|
|4||Joan Mir||SPA||Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR)||+1.831s|
|5||Francesco Bagnaia||ITA||Ducati Lenovo (GP22)||+5.840s|
|6||Brad Binder||RSA||Red Bull KTM (RC16)||+6.192s|
|7||Maverick Viñales||SPA||Aprilia Racing (RS-GP)||+6.540s|
|8||Fabio Quartararo||FRA||Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1)||+10.215s|
|9||Marco Bezzecchi||ITA||Mooney VR46 Ducati (GP21)*||+12.622s|
|10||Enea Bastianini||ITA||Gresini Ducati (GP21)||+12.987s|
|11||Luca Marini||ITA||Mooney VR46 Ducati (GP22)||+13.962s|
|12||Takaaki Nakagami||JPN||LCR Honda (RC213V)||+14.002s|
|13||Miguel Oliveira||POR||Red Bull KTM (RC16)||+14.456s|
|14||Jack Miller||AUS||Ducati Lenovo (GP22)||+14.898s|
|15||Alex Marquez||SPA||LCR Honda (RC213V)||+23.472s|
|16||Raul Fernandez||SPA||KTM Tech3 (RC16)*||+25.862s|
|17||Remy Gardner||AUS||KTM Tech3 (RC16)*||+28.711s|
|18||Darryn Binder||RSA||WithU Yamaha RNF (YZR-M1)*||+28.784s|
|19||Stefan Bradl||GER||Repsol Honda (RC213V)||+31.943s|
|20||Andrea Dovizioso||ITA||WithU Yamaha RNF (YZR-M1)||+3 laps|
|Fabio Di Giannantonio||ITA||Gresini Ducati (GP21)*||DNF|
|Pol Espargaro||SPA||Repsol Honda (RC213V)||DNF|
|Franco Morbidelli||ITA||Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1)||DNF|
|Johann Zarco||FRA||Pramac Ducati (GP22)||DNF|