2018 Argentina MotoGP Race Round Up, Part 2: Rising New Stars, And Zarco vs Pedrosa

Every MotoGP weekend throws up dozens of talking points, notes and points of interest that can help an interested observer better understand what remains the greatest sport on earth. Some weekends have more to offer than others. And then there are weekends like Argentina. Already by qualifying, the Grand Prix at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit had produced more wildness and weirdness than you get at most rounds. And then Sunday came along.

Yesterday, I wrote a little about the peculiar and unique set of circumstances which caused the start of the race to be delayed, and about how Cal Crutchlow came to win what would be a fantastic race riddled with controversy. Before I move on to the most controversial part of the weekend – Marc Márquez' frantic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ride through the field which eventually saw him penalized out of the points – a few more notes on the race itself, and the result as it ended up in the books.

First up, Cal Crutchlow, who took a convincing win in Argentina. What was impressive about Crutchlow's victory was not just the result, but the way he achieved it. It was a victory taken with patience, as Spanish journalist Borja Gonzalez astutely observed. It was a patience born of confidence, the knowledge that a good result was possible. "I knew this weekend that I could win or finish second at this Grand Prix, wet or dry," he told the press conference. "I had the pace over the last years. I had the pace in Qatar to be fast."

But it was also a patience born of necessity. "I just took minimal risk," he explained. "I stayed in fourth position a long time. My front tire was way too soft for me. It was two steps softer than what we ran here least year. I was having a lot of movement at the start of the race with the full tank in the braking zones. So I tried to save that and I stayed at a decent gap. I also chose a lot of different lines on the water to them because in case one of them crashed I didn’t want to be taken out of the race through someone else crashing. It’s a long, long season. But I knew in the end that I could pick them off. I knew that I could be there at the end of the race, first and foremost. I knew where I could pass and where I couldn’t pass."

Faith

At times, Crutchlow gets a lot of criticism from the fans for that self belief, especially when he falls short of his own expectations, whether through his own fault or the fault of another. But the LCR Honda rider explained succinctly why such confidence is an essential part of a racer's psychological make up. "When I sat on the grid I thought it was possible to win the race. If I didn’t think it was possible to win the race, I would have stayed in the garage," he said.

"That’s the truth. You have to have that mentality," Crutchlow explained. "If not, you don’t win or you don’t even finish the race. I came to Argentina believing that I could be on the podium or be able to challenge for the win. When I sat on the grid I also believed the same thing. Sure, Marc had to pit, and I think it would have been difficult with Marc's riding. He was so fast this weekend in every condition but in the end, we won the race. You have to believe you can win immediately or else it’s not going to happen. I’m sure these guys also believed, but when I got a good start and I stayed in four, five, sixth position and then start to battle a little bit, I thought it was definitely possible to win. So I played my cards when I needed to."

Honda – both HRC and Lucio Cecchinello's LCR Honda team – had played a big part in making sure Crutchlow had those cards to play. "We did a good job. My team has done a fantastic job all winter in the preseason. Honda have done a fantastic job with the engine over the two months of the winter as well. We have to give credit to my team and to them for this victory as well."

The mixture of the conditions and extra horsepower from Honda meant he could manage the medium front tire a little better. "Say it was full, full dry, and the pace was going to be 1'39s, I had to go with the hard, or else we are in a mess, to be honest. But I also don't think that we had the perfect setup, and I think the track was really slippery. The first sector was really slippery. But it was nice to be able to manage it again, where a lot of years I would have been on the floor."

Zarco's near miss

Johann Zarco came tantalizingly close to turning his second place into the first, but in the end, he couldn't find his way past Cal Crutchlow in the final section. It was not for want of trying, however. "I was pushing all the time, all the time, all the time," Zarco told the press conference. "I really didn’t live the race in the same way as Cal. So then when he overtook me also at the end, he had the better pace. I was pushing also to have this better pace. I understood a few things, but not enough at the end, I was a bit tired. I stayed close in case he made a few mistakes and I can try to go in. But after corner five and then after corner seven when I did not try, I say maybe corner 13, but will be good also to finish second."

Zarco's race had gotten off to a controversial start. At the end of the first lap, as the riders rounded Turn 12 and approached Turn 13, the Frenchman was following Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa ran his Honda wide, to get a better approach through Turn 13 and drive on to the final corner. That left the door open for Zarco to sneak underneath and grab the apex, a common maneuver at the penultimate corner at Termas De Rio Hondo, and one of the reasons the circuit produces such great racing.

As Pedrosa went to cut back for the apex, he found Zarco's black Yamaha M1 just inside, and was forced to pick the bike up and head to the middle of the track. Normally, this would not be a problem, but on a track which was still patchy with water and on the dirty part of the surface, and forced to make a hard turn to try to make the corner, it was asking too much of Pedrosa's rear tire. The rear of the Honda RC213V slid away from him, before gripping and tossing him into the air.

No contact

Zarco insisted the pair did not touch. He saw Marc Márquez and Jack Miller getting away ahead of Pedrosa, and wanted to get past the Spaniard to give chase. He believed he had better pace than Pedrosa, and determined to make a pass at Turn 13. "I saw Marc and Jack leading the race and with a better pace than Dani," Zarco explained. "Dani, knowing him, he can sometimes be safe at the beginning of the race. I don’t want to miss the rhythm from the two guys in front, so I took quickly the decision to overtake him in corner 13 where it was the race line plus inside another dry line, and I use this dry line to overtake. When you are going into the corner with this different line, you have to go a little bit wide. The problem is going wide, then it’s getting wet. Me, I had to pick up a lot the bike just also for not crash, because if I crash I push him away and then he crash. Then I did not crash on the wet patches. I didn’t know he crashed. I saw Alex overtake me and for me, Dani was still behind. He has been unlucky on the wet patches."

Did they touch? Checking the onboard video of Marc Márquez, looking back at Pedrosa and Zarco, it is clear that Zarco forces his Yamaha into a very narrow slot. But Pedrosa senses that Zarco is there, and picks up his bike to avoid a collision. The pair run wide, and Pedrosa gets out onto the worst part of the track, where he suddenly loses the rear. There is no obvious contact, though Zarco did not leave Pedrosa too many options. It was a hard move by Zarco, but one that falls within the frame of a racing pass. If track conditions had been a little better, or if Pedrosa had slowed up and turned the bike a little slower, then he probably would not have fallen.

If anything, Pedrosa was the victim of track conditions, of racing on a track with damp patches making grip unpredictable. Turn 13 is a favorite passing spot, but Zarco was forceful in his attempt in sketchy conditions. It was a racing incident, though with Zarco's reputation for making passes that others would shy away from, it did not reflect well on him.

What did reflect well was Zarco's result. Taking second in Argentina made it three podiums in four races for the Monster Tech3 Yamaha rider. And after leading for much of the season opener at Qatar, Zarco is looking very much like being a serious championship contender this year. He may not yet have a win in MotoGP, but on the evidence so far, it is only a matter of time.

Alex Rins, rising star

The same can be said for Alex Rins. The Spaniard got lost in his rookie year on the Ecstar Suzuki, losing a lot of track time to injury, and held back by Suzuki choosing the wrong engine for the season, rendering the bike uncompetitive. They have fixed that for 2018, as the results of Rins and teammate Andrea Iannone during testing have so amply demonstrated.

He had learned a lot in the race at Phillip Island last year, Rins told me in an interview conducted in February. He had put those lessons into practice throughout preseason testing, and also in the first race of the year at Qatar, until he crashed out. He had harried Jack Miller for much of the race, taking over the lead for a lap and a half before running wide and giving it up again.

Spending time behind Miller had been another step on his path through MotoGP. "From the beginning I stayed calm," Rins told the press conference. "I was behind Jack mostly all race. When he was first I was second and I was thinking if I overtake him maybe I can open a small gap because I was going really easy behind him. I was trying to overtake three or four times, but the track conditions was very bad, a lot of patches out of the line. When I was first in the middle of the race I did a small mistake and I think, stay calm, go with them fight for podium, for the victory."

How close was Rins to getting his first victory in MotoGP? "We are working really hard this preseason. We improve a lot. Also my experience is higher than last year. I suffer a lot last year with the injuries and everything, but I’m quite happy because we are working on the good way. The victory I don’t know when will arrive, but sure we are close." It is only a matter of time before Rins gets his first win. And if Spanish sports daily AS.com is to believed, only a matter of days before his new contract with Suzuki is announced.

Rabbit Rabat

There were plenty of other noteworthy performances in Argentina. Tito Rabat consolidated an outstanding qualifying to take seventh place on the Reale Avintia Ducati. Rabat has been reborn since jumping off the Honda RC213V and onto the Desmosedici GP17. The Spaniard had appeared to sink like a stone once he entered MotoGP, and faced a lot of criticism from the fans for that. On a different bike, one which he feels is much easier to ride, he is a much more competitive proposition.

Johann Zarco's Tech3 teammate Hafizh Syahrin also deserves praise. As a late replacement for Jonas Folger, he missed half of preseason testing. He also missed having the winter break to adjust his physical training to adapt to the demands of riding a MotoGP bike, an underrated aspect of the sport. Syahrin, too, has been viewed with scorn by some fans, and seen as undeserving of a MotoGP ride.

In Argentina, he proved his worth on the Monster Tech Yamaha M1. The Malaysian rider held his own at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit, crossing the finish line in ninth, in the group with Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone, and Tito Rabat, 24 seconds behind the winner. Hervé Poncharal promised that any rider he signed to replace Folger would have "a great adventure," and so it is turning out for Syahrin. He is a worthy addition to the grid.

Vierge and Bezzecchi

Two other riders worth pointing out after the racing on Sunday. Mattia Pasini took a brilliant win in what was an outstanding Moto2 race – the class has been resuscitated and revitalized before the switch to Triumph engines next year – but it was Xavi Vierge who was the star of the show. We already know just how good Pasini is, but with the camera on him all race long, Vierge put on a show. After taking pole on Saturday, he battled all race long with Pasini and Miguel Oliveira, just losing out in the end.

But Vierge looked good, even as he came second. The Spaniard was sliding his Dynavolt Intact Kalex through Termas' long corners, yet managing his pace all the way to the end. His body position and riding style looked ripe for MotoGP, the head forward and low, the body well off the bike, an echo of Marc Márquez or Johann Zarco. If Vierge had not left the Tech3 Moto2 team at the end of last season, he would have been in MotoGP already, taking the bike left vacant by Jonas Folger. If he continues like this, someone is sure to give him a chance in MotoGP for 2019.

In Moto3, it was Marco Bezzecchi's chance to shine. The Italian made a break at the start of a wet race, and never looked back. He had a gap of over 4 seconds after four laps, and the chasing pack never came close. Bezzecchi had shown real promise on the CIP Mahindra last year, managing a podium at Motegi. On a competitive KTM, the Italian has lived up to expectations, and exceeded them.

Bezzecchi is the latest in a long line of talent coming out of Valentino Rossi's VR46 Riders Academy. For a long time, it looked as if MotoGP would be dominated by Spanish riders for decades to come, but the VR46 Academy is rapidly putting a stop to that. The bulk of the talent in Moto3 is Italian, products of Rossi's school. VR46 Academy riders play a prominent role in Moto2, and with Franco Morbidelli in MotoGP, they are moving in to the premier class. If it carries on like this, fans will be bemoaning the Italian domination of Grand Prix racing, rather than the Spanish hegemony.

Not done yet

Tomorrow, I will deal with Marc Márquez, and the fallout of a ride that was both terrifyingly fast and reckless. There is much to be said about the pace Márquez had and what that says about his riding, and the effect of the result on the championship. But for now, sleep deprivation over an exhilarating and exhausting weekend is getting the better of me. More, much more, tomorrow.


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Total votes: 61
Total votes: 95

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Comments

Really enjoying this race's write up in nice little(?) digestible pieces, thanks David! I don't think I've ever spent so much time analyzing a single race day. Not even Sapang 2015. On that note, was really hoping we weren't going to relive any of those times.

Hearing Cal talk through the race details is a bit ominous. Hope he can keep it up. When was the last time a satellite team lead a championship even for a weekend?

Total votes: 25

Can you tell me, did Honda and MM go to Alex Aspargo garage to give apologies? Mark raised his hand in both cases.

Total votes: 37

I think it sucks that the very fastest rider of the era is held back by rules. I would have liked to see MM just stomp the field by the biggest margin in recent history. I am sure he would have. Even Cal knows that. Yet it also hurts to see both him and Zarco knock people down in their pursuit if a result. I am not sure what the rules people can do to clean this up. It isn't supposed to be a contact sport. They probably should ban MM for a couple races to make sure he isn't a contender. Take the season away from him. Maybe the same for Zarco. Standing a guy up like he did to Pedrosa and then running wide himself, forcing the crash, is pretty bullshit. Not a racing incident in my view. Anyway, the rules people need to do something big enough to reshape rider behavior.

Total votes: 90

David,

First and foremost, thank you for not taking the extremely easy bait this weekend. I may not always agree with your opinion (or anyone's :) ) but that's the beauty of this whole thing. For what it's worth, my hats off to Simon Crafar (give him some slack naysayers) as well, he called it immediately after Marc's ride through and foresaw the soon to ensue dumptruck that would decimate the field by 1 - 2 seconds per lap.

I try to be unbiased, but Marc had a number of incidents this weekend. Anyone watching the FP's might have noticed how he also needlessly stood up Hafizh in addition to the other more publicized incidents. Steve and Matt laughed it off with the usual "Hi I'm Marc welcome to MotoGP" song and dance, but there's really no need for that at the end of practice and Hafizh was by no means lounging around on the racing line, Marc is just so much faster.

It's no easy job figuring out where the righteous and just line is, this is the pinnacle of competitive motorsports IMHO with the best in the world on the grid. 2015 went a long way to polarize the motorcycle community for all the wrong reasons, regardless of where everyone's head is at right now I really hope this doesn't further the divide - so thanks again David for not fueling a fire that needs no fanning at the moment.

To all the fellow true fans of ALL riders and their talents, let's try and set the example as this year looks to have a cloud looming if we're not careful. /end rant

Total votes: 7

i admit to having not paid a lot of attention to Rins in the past - that said, his riding style seems to be a throw back to the 500 era in that he seems fairly stiff from the waist on up. Is this talked about within the paddock and is it a disadvantage in today’s environment (which MM seemed to reinvent in his rookie year)? Am i the only one that notices this? 

Total votes: 6

So much has been said about the contact, little about how dominant Marquez was on this day in Argentina. A ride-through penalty, a drop one or two position penalty, then he slowed just a bit after sending Rossi into the rhubarb and still he came from behind and passed Vinales for fifth!

So his exuberance and starting line adrenaline turned him into a sometimes wayward cruise missile,  the guy served notice and Honda served notice. His DOMINANCE, not his rubbing-is-racing, Dale Earnhardt-style, is what is really scaring Rossi and the field. Folks, we are witnessing the greatest motorcycle rider on earth, he's just a little exuberant at times. Enjoy the Marquez vs. Rossi show because he (Marquez) certainly isn't hurting the sport. No one who cares anything about motorcycle racing is going to miss Austin.

Total votes: 7

Bite sized, long form journalism. A race review in three long sections, really excellent. 

Total votes: 7

to make them more digestible, but it also makes it more difficult for someone like me (not succinct!...) to comment.  I wanted to respond with my thoughts on the race in the earlier race report, but it just didn't seem the place.  This one is halway there, I guess, so I'll just dump it all here:

  • The start of the race: That was absolutely bizarre, and it took your last race report for me to understand why what was done was done.  I was under the impression that the safety concern was that all of the other riders bar Miller would be starting from pit lane in another Sachenring catastrophe.  Am I understanding correctly that all riders would have been able to start from the grid, only at the back of the field?  If so, what race direction chose to do makes sense.  The reality is that Miller would have gotten a head start based off of the number of rows forfeited by the other riders (not the full 20+ second penalty of starting from pit lane), which is essentially what he was awarded.  The only thing weird about it was that they made it up on the fly.  I find it hard to believe that, in all of the decades of grand prix racing, something like this has never happend before, prompting a written guideline in the rulebook to handle such a case: "If x number of riders return to the garage prior to race start, such and such gridding procedure is adopted."
  • I do not agree with Marquez' ridethrough penalty.  Not because he didn't deserve it, but because it wasn't a penalty.  Had Marquez listened to the track marshals and removed his bike from the grid, he'd have started from pit lane.  Which is essentially a ridethrough, timewise.  So the penalty for ignoring a ridethrough was a ridethrough?  Didn't make sense to me.  Even at a track day you can't disregard the marshals without a black flag...
  • This is the first article or comment I've seen here that has acknoledged that Marquez wasn't the only rider who didn't ride a clean race.  You bring up Zarco's clash with Pedrosa as well, and I'm glad you did.  I'm going to have to disagree with your judgement here, though.  I love Zarco, his riding style, and what he brings to the premiere class (which is to say I have no agenda here), but that pass on Pedrosa was pretty much a textbook reckless passing maneuver.  My rule is pretty much this: If the rider behind enters the turn in such a way that it is impossible to hold his line without colliding with the rider in front, it's a dirty pass.  Period.  Zarco himself admits he took a tighter than normal line entering the turn.  This line--again, straight from his mouth--forced a wide exit.  Right into Pedrosa's bike.  Just because Pedrosa was quick enough to stand it up and avoid allowing Zarco to use his bike as a berm doesn't mean Zarco didn't try using Pedrosa's bike as a berm.  He was completely behind Pedrosa on entrance, tried putting his bike where he had zero chance of fitting it, and put another rider on the deck.  Yes, it was the water off-line that caused Pedrosa's crash, but Zarco knew that water was there.  "What bad luck for Pedrosa that he hit that patch of water," says Zarco.  Bad luck?  You barged him into it.  I was waiting the whole race for the notification that the incident was being investigated.  I was livid when that never came.  Zarco put another rider on the deck with zero consequence.  That there was no physical contact is meaningless.  Rubbing fairings with another rider who is able to maintain his line and stay on his bike is hard racing, but this was worse.
  • One or two comments above have pointed out that Rossi was not the only victim of Marquez' reckless charge through the field.  Bravo.  At the point he punted Rossi, he had already collided with Aleix Espargaro and forced his way through a three-rider group in an apex, forcing a rider (was it Nakagami?) wide into the water and a sketchy moment.  Even after punting Rossi, he pushed forward.  The last image from his charge through the field was the camera cutting to Marquez cutting underneath Vinalez in the penultimate corner, Vinalez clearly wide and looking around like, "WTF?..."

Bottom line, the Rossi/Marquez feud is something for fanboys to worry about.  I could care less.  I like hard but fair/safe racing with the rules being applied in a consistent manner from week to week and rider to rider.  From Friday through Sunday, this had to be the worst weekend from race direction I've seen since I started following the sport in 2005.  From making up a gridding procedure out of thin air (even if it was the most fair and safe thing to do) to completely failing to rein in dangerous riding before it put a second rider on the deck, it was just an awfully unprofessional display, especially at this level.  That's not even getting into the incident in Moto3.  There has to be a way to apply the rules in such a manner that the riders are encouraged to rub fairings and race hard in the way that we fans love without crossing the line into what becomes dangerous and, frankly, spoiled brat "I deserve this patch of asphalt because my name is..." behavior.  And that goes for those who wear yellow, red, or green.

It's sad, as Crutchlow had a good point in the press conference: It distracted from what was a fantastic race at the front.

Total votes: 72

This may be different is other cultures, but in any country that has a legal system based on English Common Law, precedence of previous decisions matters.  Canet not being penalized because he told race direction crashing out Yurchenko was not intentional, set the precedence that it is fine to crash out another rider as long as it is not intentional.  Therefore, neither Zarco nor Márquez should have been penalized for taking out Pedrosa and Rossi, respectively, unless Race Direction had stated before the MotoGP race "We messed up by not penalizing Canet (and oh, sorry about your bike and minor injuries Yurchenko).

Total votes: 7

I know you, (or was it Neil?), touched upon Lorenzo's "Performance" at Qatar and the challenges he faced there, but he seemed to set a new low this week in Argentina.

I don't know what else can really be said. Perhaps one can point out that he's not experiencing any more lack of success than Rossi did when he jumped ship and therefore deserves to be cut some slack. I suppose in some context that would be a fair statement.

But like most i keep coming back to the dicotomy of his contract vs. his performance and then I try to square that with what the guy on the other side of the garage has been doing.

The situation seems quite untenable for Ducati from my view from the cheap seats, but feel free to correct me if I'm missing something or if there's some inside info that isn't widely known outside the paddock that would help to rationalize it all for us David.

Cheers, and fyi, your writing has never been better. Thank-you for this space.

Total votes: 6

Congratulations to Crutchlow for the win!

Zarco continues to confirm his worth

Rins only needs to demonstrate some consistency and I will be sold.

It took me a while to realize Lorenzo was also in that race.

As for the start of the race, I tend to agree with the compromise. Qualifying and resulting starting positions are a most for an orderly and fair start of the race. With that said, I want to see the fastest rider wins on track. Just given Miller an unsurmontable advantage for being the bravest or wisest wouldnt not have been fair IMO. We are not talking about one or two riders changing their minds but essentailly the entire grid. The debacle over Michelin and Bridgestone at the F1 race in Indianapolis comes to mind, where only Bridgestone shod car took part in the race.

As for Marquez, I see two separate issues: a lack of respect for the other riders and their safety, and an incomprehensible pace advantage. Out of these two issues, I'm mostly intrigued by the -1.0 sec a lap he had over the field. Afterall this is MotoGP, not Moto2. He should not be in a position to be toying and roughing up the opposition at will. You can even argue that the other riders presented a safety problem by being so slow.

David,

If possible on your last installment please enlighten us on why Marquez appeared to be back to his Moto2 days, where the opposition was only there to illustrate his superiority.

Total votes: 5

Seems to me as the only guy to choose the right tyres Miller was turned over by race direction. The teams/riders held up the start by pulling every bike off the grid and creating an unsafe start situation ie a mass pitlane start, not nice. The resulting panic decision to give Miller a 40 meter advantage was ludicrous, a 40 second advantage would have been nearer the mark but that would have left a fight for second and third place, surely an anti climax as far as the tv people are concerned. Why could a split start not be initiated, Miller sets off on  the red light going out, the balance of the grid starting 30-40 seconds (pit lane ride through time) later?

Congratulations to Cruthlow on managing the situation better than all others and getting a well earned win, great to see Rins coming of age in the class and Zarco his first win is surly just around the corner.

 

Total votes: 5

...on your take of the Zarco incident David.

I do agree it wasn't as bad as what we saw from Marquez, but it was risky, unecessary and he came from too far back... not to mention he has form for this kind of behaviour.

Yes, it was the conditions why Dani fell off by hitting the damp patch, but the cause of the incident was Zarco pulling off another move he shouldn't have attempted (in my opinion).

Certainly wasn't +30 second penaly worthy or ride through worthy, but not even investigated or put back one place doesn't feel right when we saw the sanctions placed on Marquez.

More than Zarco being an issue, the only consistency for race direction this weekend was their inconsistency. Canet, Petrucci and Zarco can barge into/knock riders off, but Marquez can't? I'm not saying Marquez shouldn't have been punished, but why him and nobody else?

Total votes: 5

Rossi, Padrosa, and many of the others have had broken bones in racing accidents, which does in my own experience slow you down a little, but marquez is riding with a false sense of security, thinking like we do, that we are invincible, so we will see how brave he is when he's been hurt just half of what his team mate Padrosa has. Does anyone remember him taking Padrosa out, when he crashed into him in the same dangerous way, so hard it broke the rear brake pipe. marquez has a history of this dangerous riding, which as others know, could lead to another riders serious injury, or even death. If he really is brave, lets see him race at the TT, or is he not that brave, when he would be taking a real risk of getting hurt himself ?

Total votes: 6

I highly appreciate all these details with these multiple race reports. What an effort.

It seems MM believed he could have gotten on the podium even after the ride through penalty given his astonishing pace this weekend. Which lead to what we all have seen and read about.

The racing at the front was one of the most brilliant ones that we usually see from the top riders. What class. The front four were those who saved this race from a total catastrophe that it otherwise is.

Total votes: 5

I'm not necessarily defending him (I'm expecting David will cover this tomorrow), but Marquez states quite clearly in at least this MotoGP.com video interview posted online (http://www.motogp.com/en/video_gallery/2018/04/05/argentinagp-best-video...) that the first marshall did NOT give clear instructions. Then he says a 2nd marshall came and gave a thumbs up (start around min 36 in the video of the race, you will see what the 2nd marshall does: http://www.motogp.com/en/video_gallery/2018/04/05/argentinagp-best-video...) and by then with his motorcycle running he went back to his grid place while the marshalls left the grid. Perhaps this riding against traffic is the biggest offense, but not completely understanding 50 years of culture and the rule book in detail I have nothing to offer on that aspect. It would be VERY interesting to hear what the 1st marshall claims he said to Marquez, but since Dorna has said nothing in this respect I'm not sure where it leaves us w/o an enterprising journalist interviewing those marshalls!

Total votes: 18

I take MM93's comments with a healthy pinch of salt.  I'm sure he honestly believes that but if you look at what happened on the grid, he's approached by two marshalls in turn who are both waving at him in a highly agitated manner that indeed might mean several things but a cheerful thumbs up to a bump start and u-turn is definitely not one of them.  Only a racer would interpret their hand signals and body language in such an 'optimistic' fashion.  Several other riders waved their arms in protest too.  It was pretty clear that everyone on that grid disagreed with Marc.  That said, I think we can probably agree that every one of those competitors would have at least tried to get away with it too if they found themselves in his position!

Total votes: 6

MM93 has practically spent his entire life in or around a race track and DOESN'T know you can't go backwards???

Total votes: 7

All riders should know the rules, and it's pretty clear in the official rule book that if you have a problem or you stall your engine, you should put up your hand and wait for the marshals.
Under no circumstances are you allowed to delay the start in any other way.

And if you watch the video again, you'll see that is what he initially did, because he KNOWS what the rules are. His excuse that he didn't see a marshal is ridiculous. He only held his hand up for a split second before taking matters into his own hands.
That is a punishable offence, #1.
If you look at the marshals, you see they were signing him to go to the pits and that person with his thumb up was agreeing with the other marshal. Marquez was solely focused on himself and his bike, ignoring the marshals. Punishable offence #2.
Then he rode against traffic to take his position back on the grid. Punishable offence #3.

He is lucky he just got away with a single ride-through penalty. He should've gotten a black flag IMO, and then nothing of all the bad stuff that happened would've happened and everybody (except MM & Honda) would've been happy.

Even before the race had started, MM showed a total lack of respect for everything and everyone. People like this should not be on the grid.

I feel sorry for Pedrosa and wish him all the best. I really like the guy, but he kind of caused his own accident by leaving the door wide open in turn 13 when there was only a fine dry line. With all his experience, he should've expected that someone would dive in on the dry line and he should've known all he had left were wet patches. If Dani would've backed out and cut his losses in that corner, he would've stayed on and he would've come back because he had decent race pace.

I feel sorry for Aleix Espargaro when he got hit hard by Petrucci... but this was due to Syahrin bumping into Petrucci and then needing to take avoiding action for Iannone barging through. 100% racing incident. Luckily this all happened in a turn with dry asphalt, without much of a consequence.

Marquez on the other hand hit Espargaro hard, pushing him from the dry onto the wet causing him to go off track. He's pushed Nakagami off the dry line onto the wet. He rubbed fairings with a few others before he came again to turn 13 again, using Rossi as a bumper to lose his speed, causing another rider to go off track and this time crashing Rossi. There is no way that you can only look at these incidents separately and say "Oh well, racing incident, please continue"

You can't race with a mentality that you're faster so you can force everybody to make room for you. As someone coming from behind, since these riders don't have any mirrors, you have to make sure that you're making a safe pass, that you're not endangering anyone else.
With the pace that Marquez had, he could've easily waited until turn 1 to make his move, knowing that he already endangered (at least) 2 people (that I've seen) before, knowing that he's already had a sanction for one of the moves. Again, total disrespect for rules, other riders, safety, track conditions, ...
This is not what I want to see MotoGP turn into. This behavior needs to stop and it doesn't matter who's the culprit. I'd say the same thing if it was any other rider.

Race direction needs to get a little more consistent with their sanctions and it needs to start in Moto3, continue in Moto2 and most certainly in MotoGP and soon Moto-E as well. For similar incidents there always seem to be different sanctions and sometimes none. If these riders get away with stuff like this, like MM has done in Moto3 and Moto2, you see that they carry that behavior over to the next classes and then riders can always (try to) claim that they didn't know the exact rule (like MM did with the start)

Total votes: 4

There is no "detail" to know, these are very basic rules taught at club level.  Hell, even trackday riders are told "Under no circumstances will you ride the wrong way on track, or you will be packing up early!".  Every racer has "raise your hand if in trouble on the grid" drummed into them, sees it often enough on the grid...and not forgetting this is Marquez' profession, he's being doing it since he was a toddler, yet he asked someone what to do?  It should have been instinctive.  

Which leads me to intimations of his headspace, a headspace that continued throughout the race: he doesn't actually think about what he should do, his rational brain is completely disengaged, his primitive reptilian brain (no disrespect intended) takes over and he simply operates on pure instinct.  The rule book is not even in the back of his mind as his instinct tells him what he needs to do....whether it is allowed/legal/unsafe has absolutely no bearing on his decisions.  Effectively there are no decisions, no choices, no concious thought, it is just the simplest most expediant instinctive solution to very problem:

BIKE STALLED =  Start it

THERE'S A GAP = Fill it

THERE'S NO GAP =  Make one

I honestly don't think there is malice a forethought, hence Marquez struggles to see why he is in the wrong, he is completely at the mercy of his reptilian instincts.  This is why he is such an incredible competitor: his brain literally thinks he is fighting, where everyone else only use the "fight" or "battle" terms metaphorically.

I can't help feeling his team also let him down.  Where was the "calm" or "breathe" message on the pitboard after the Aleix incident, or as he caught Rossi?  He was a bull at the door of a china shop and his team did nothing to steer him towards a different result.

  

 

 

 

 

Total votes: 7

I re-watched the footage and distintictly rembeber MM was facing the opposite direction whilst turning his bike around when the Marshall was running up the grid with his thumb in the air. one can only assume the riders view footage post race in order to provide information in addition to what they may or may not already know?

Total votes: 11

I like the way you're doing this, a lot happened so we're getting it in bite sized pieces. Glad you've spent plenty of time on Cal, he rode a really smart race. He gets a lot of stick, but he's gained more podiums and wins than any other satellite rider in recent years I'd guess, quite an achievement considering the standard of the sport and the power of the factories.

Total votes: 9

marquez has never had to settle for one of the second best satalite bikes, like like Zarco, & others have, yet Zarco has beat him on this lesser bike more than once. This makes me wonder what Zarco might be like if he had a works Honda. Sunday showed crutchlow's Honda power easily overhall Zarco's tech 3 bike on the straight, and out of the corners, yet Zarco still gave him a hard time, due to his obvious skill. Stoner was an example of someone who could ride any bike to victory, as he did with the old bucking bronco ducati. Once he had a works Honda, the others were really in trouble, and it's still the best overall package. Dovi did wonders last year on the later version, even beating marquez on several occasions in the wet and dry. I recall the last corner when marques again tried one of his famous dangerous passes on Dovi, which could have took Dovi out. ( if you can't beat him, knock him off attitude ) 

Total votes: 5

In response to a couple of the posts above, the Marquez issue is all about safety - of the other riders.

It's not about Rossi is better/worse, or other riders are dirty too.
His riding skills are currently unparalleled, but his lack of judgement is appalling.

He needs to ride by this command (and anyone on the roads too!):
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

In other words: if that was MM93 in front, would he be happy with a Iannone* front tyre up his leg?

(*for want of a similar-minded overtaker)

Total votes: 20

I think Marquez would be perfectly happy getting treated the same way he treats others. Frankly what I see here is, he doesn't ask anyone to accept any more danger than he is willing to accept himself. Clearly he is willing to accept a level of risk much higher than anyone else on the grid. Is he psycotic? I think not. He simply has talent far above and beyond anyone else on the grid.

Total votes: 48

Please do take a moment to read from some distance what you just wrote.... I'm not trying to start a quarrell but i think you are missing the point. If barging on someone at 200 kmh from behind and literally throw him off the racing line not by mistake but by design because you cannot be bothered to make a clean pass is unacceptable. And when it becomes a habit instead of an exception it's a bloody fault that must be punished. How many broken collar bones and wrists and legs do we need before we say is enough? Every one on that grid has made some dumbass moves and dangerous passes. But  they never ever sport it as a given!

Last but not least: i seem to recall that MM defintely likes NOT to be treated like he treats the others.... argentina 2015 and assen 2015 are proof that he does not like it  one bit. To such an extent that he cannot even see he was the faulty party. 

Total votes: 54

Is he really such a deity to you?
As a matter of fact, Marquez doesn't make up the rules of what is allowed and what not. At the beginning of each year he gets a rules book just like anyone else. He is expected to read it, know the rules and behave by them.

If you don't know how to fight a battle with motorcycles in safe and respectful way, you are not among the best of the world, you lack class and maturity and you have no place in MotoGP, Moto2 or Moto3.

Total votes: 6

psychotic. :P

Also, don't think he "...has talent far above and beyond anyone else on the grid...". But MM does have that something extra that makes world champions.

Total votes: 16

Roadracing requires a suspension of normal mammallian fear responses, if that is psycotic, so be it. If you cannot appreciate how much faster Marquez was than everyone else this past weekend, then you are not a fan of the sport.

Total votes: 20

Sir, we love the sport, but it we do not love it unconditionally.  Some tough love was required some time ago, it was not given, and here we are.  

  

Total votes: 6

Therefore is it correct to impose upon others just because it doesn’t bother you? To make it clear I like it combative, but clean(ish) but going for a gap that simply does not exist and punting riders out the way (repeatedly) just ain’t cricket. Bullish comes to mind. 

Total votes: 11

It was a great race expect for 2 very tight passes from MM93 that was shown, not sure about the rest of his amazing progression through the pack?

He was on a mission of sorts and in his mind he was coming through, not saying it was the right choice, and he could have waited for another turn or two.

JZ05 was really pushing what was clearly a very small space for a clean pass.  Just hope DP26 is going to be okay for Austin and isn't in too much pain.  It was an ugly highside for him and it hurt just watching it.

I don't know the rules very well, but watching MM93 restart his bike so fast and get back into position was pretty amazing.  I thought wow, that was lucky and was very happy to see him back in his correct position to start the race.  I didn't see anything unsafe around what he did, but then again it might be against rules already in place?

I would think MM93 had a lot of time to rethink this race on his long flight back to Spain and there must be much discussion about it with his team.  

Of all the riders to take down. Rubbing elbows with VR46 isn't good as he has such a fan base that kind of worships the ground he walk/rides on, and a huge emotional side to them.

I would not want to see anymore penalites placed on MM93 at this time, but believe he and JZ05 need to be made aware that any more of this type of racing will come with much more sever penalites of it continues.

Also I agree, at this time MM93 has amazing talent and is about as fearless as they come.  

It was a great result for CC35 and the other satellite teams.  

I can't imagine what the other rides thought, where did he come from, meaning MM93.

Looking forward to tomorrows piece on MM93.

Total votes: 5

thank you David for the report. the bad shenanigans notwithstanding it was an amazing race they did! Shame for Miller, but he showed such consistency and utter calm: very impressive. So did Rins, very few mistakes, very much in control. I was hoping he wouldn't crash. I think he will show us some interesting races and I pray that Iannone does not go all red mist on him.

I just read (and not sure it's confirmed) that Pedrosa is undergoing wrist surgery right this moment, I doubt he'll be able to race in Austin... bravo Zarco ! a racing incident you call it... can we really say incident when you knowingly enter the corner too fast but not fast enough to be really in front and therefore you throw the other rider off the racing line? on a wet slippery track? As you well pointed out this is not a first for Zarco... 

One technical question : the official Ducatis and Yamahas were nowhere near the satellite bikes in pace and performance : how do you explain it? 

Last but not least... Cal ! He was right to be p...ed off during the press conference. He did a superb job. And wish him more wins.

looking forward to your third installement... 

Total votes: 17

> He simply has talent far above and beyond anyone else on the grid.

Grip-judging talent beyond anyone else undoubtedly, but not gap-judging talent.

If he learnt just to wait one more corner, I'd consider him Rossi's equal. And I think he will get there, but it's taking a long time.
Until then, though... :-)

Total votes: 17

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Total votes: 5

1) The most screwed up race in 25+ years! How can race direction NOT have a plan in place for this scenario? Just because it hasn't happened before doesn't mean it CAN'T! Last year should have let them know what MIGHT happen.  Their decision totally screwed Miller! He made the correct gamble, causing the rest of the field to re-think their decision and he gets screwed.  They should have held the rest of field for 20 seconds, or the time that is normally lost starting from pit lane.  No, I'm not a Miller homeboy.;

2) Marquez restart: I'm not sure how any rider could hear a marshall say anything on the grid. Its loud and the riders are wearing ear plugs. Have you been on the grid of a race? You can barely hear yourself scream.  If they REALLY wanted Marc to start from pit lane, they should have got in front of him, pointed to pit lane and not start the race until he did.  The race had already been delayed 20+ minutes, what is one more minute to wait for him to get to pit lane.

3) Penalty: no issue with that. Marc caused a crash and easily could have caused another.  BUT....Rossi whinning about it and saying Marc has ruined the sport (OK, no yelling at me for that, but he said something to that effect) is laughable.  Rossi should look back into the past and ask Biaggi, Criville, Gib, and Stoner about 'rough' ridding. Rossi acts like he's never pushed a rider off the track or caused someone to crash.  And I LOVE Rossi, but he's becoming a whiner....Its OK if I do it, but don't do it to me.

OK, I'm done      

Total votes: 22

….The only person ruining the sport is Rossi and his large quantities of ignorant fans.  Marquez had been punished and no doubt will be under close scrutiny for the next few races. Whilst his speed was amazing, he definitely was reckless.  Rossi could have played the high ground and not inflamed the situation.  But he didn’t. Have we really come to expect him to do any different?  Every conflict in the past involving Rossi has had him choosing the low ground. Picking sides with his Italian chums and creating a horrible tribal war, confident in his fans to go “full retard”.

When it suits him, he says hard racing is fine, when he is disadvantaged the others are “ruining the sport”.  His hypocrisy is becoming unbearable in his old age.   

Total votes: 21