A pitch-perfect tango from Bezzecchi sees the Italian head to Austin top of the pile, while big hitters falter in Argentina
Caught your breath yet from a spectacular weekend in Argentina? No, we haven’t quite either. Round 2 at Termas de Rio Hondo lived up to all expectations and more as leaving South America leading the World Championship is MotoGP™’s newest race winner – Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team).
The top four heading to Austin
“I woke up with a strange sensation, I knew I could go fast” were some of the first words from the loveable Italian after his maiden premier class win. Bezzecchi wasn’t just fast. He was operating in a completely different league. From lights out to chequered flag, Bezzecchi was untroubled in tricky wet conditions and heads to Round 3 leading the title race by nine points.
MotoGP™ race recap: Bellissimo Bezzecchi makes history
The sophomore’s P2 in the Tissot Sprint was an early indication of his superior pace in Argentina. Only the utter brilliance of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) stopped Bezzecchi from picking up a historic Sprint-GP Race double in Termas, which would have replicated what his VR46 Academy stablemate Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) did in Portugal.
Speaking of the reigning World Champion, the highs and lows of the sport were portrayed by Pecco in Argentina. Seven days on from perfectly kickstarting his title defence with a 37-point haul in Portimao, a crash while chasing Bezzecchi in Sunday’s Grand Prix saw the #1 relinquish his title lead to his compatriot. Four points are all Bagnaia leaves Argentina with and although it’s way too early for alarm bells to start ringing, a bounce back from this mistake will be needed in Austin.
Six adrift of Bagnaia is Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) in third place. What is it about Zarco’s late race pace? In Portimao, he carved his way through to P4 in the final couple of laps and in Argentina, he was over a second quicker than Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) in the closing stages to eventually claim P2. That was the Frenchman’s first rostrum since the 2022 German GP and his seventh second place finish in the last three seasons. That maiden premier class win has to be just around the corner now.
After being pipped to P2 by Zarco, Alex Marquez sits P4 in the overall standings on 33 points – 17 adrift of Bezzecchi. The double World Champion is a reformed rider now he’s at the controls of a Ducati, as we’re finally seeing the #73’s potential come to light in MotoGP™. The thing is, Marquez is only going to get faster as he gets to know his Desmosedici GP22 better, so you get the sense that Argentina’s pole position and podium are just the beginning. Marquez and Gresini feel it too.
Not the weekend Aprilia were after
Heading to Argentina, Aprilia Racing were the talk of the town. Aleix Espargaro’s famous victory in Termas 12 months ago, coupled with their rapid pace in Portimao, meant Espargaro and teammate Maverick Viñales landed in Termas as two pre-weekend favourites. And it started well. However, qualifying and the Sprint – especially for Espargaro – didn’t go to plan. Then the wet weather arrived, as both Espargaro and Viñales failed to make any sort of positive mark on the Argentina GP.
P7 in the Sprint and P12 in the Grand Prix signalled a disappointing weekend for Viñales. Top Gun leaves Argentina fifth in the World Championship on 32 points, while Espargaro’s Sprint crash and P15 GP finish means his season is yet to really rev into life. The #41 sits in P13 on 12 points from the opening two rounds, as Aprilia aim to make amends in Texas.
KTM: A pair of comeback kings
What can you say about Brad Binder’s (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) P15 to P1 Sprint performance? It was outrageous. Unfortunately for the South African, a Turn 5, Lap 1 crash ended his hopes of a strong result in the Grand Prix race, but teammate Jack Miller strung a strong race together to go from P16 to P6 in the wet.
The Australian is sixth in the title race heading to Round 3, while Binder is eighth, three points adrift. It’s been a good start to the year for the Austrian marque after a quiet pre-season. “The bike is working mega” said Miller after Saturday’s Sprint, so just imagine if they hadn’t qualified P15 and P16 in Argentina…
HIGHLIGHTS: Brilliant Binder start tees up Tissot Sprint win
Morbidelli’s revival Yamaha’s main positive in Argentina
A pair of P4s was just the pick-me-up Morbidelli needed after a tricky run of form. The Italian was edged out of a first podium since the 2021 Spanish GP by Zarco’s incredible late pace, but nevertheless, he and his Yamaha crew desperately needed a weekend like that. “I want this feeling in Austin” explained Morbidelli post-race. It was great to see the Italian back fighting for the podium.
On the other side of the box, Sunday brought a ray of light to Fabio Quartararo’s (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) slow start to the season. P7 isn’t where the Frenchman wants to be finishing, but given it was wet – remember Thailand last year – and he was P16 on Lap 1, it was a great comeback ride. Ahead of a trip to Austin, Morbidelli and Quartararo are P9 and P10 in the standings respectively.
Rins bag top 10 for Honda
If it wasn’t for a problem with his visor in the latter stages of the race, then Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) was on for a top six result in Argentina. Still, P9 wasn’t a disaster for the Spaniard in his first wet race on a Honda, but the overriding feeling was there was more to be had in Termas.
In the factory ranks, Joan Mir’s (Repsol Honda Team) Sprint crash saw the 2020 World Champion join teammate Marc Marquez on the sidelines, as we hope to welcome those two back for the Americas GP. The latter and HRC have a certain COTA crown to try and snatch back.
If the opening two rounds of the season have taught us anything, it’s that fortunes can change in the blink of an eye in MotoGP™. Expect another rollercoaster weekend to take place at the Circuit of The Americas.
World Championship top 10 after Round 2:
1. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) – 50
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – 41
3. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) – 35
4. Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) – 33
5. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) – 32
6. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – 25
7. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) – 22
8. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – 22
9. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) – 21
10. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) – 18