What an UNBELIEVABLE race that was held in Argentina! You must bare with me and read all the capitalized words as if you can hear me shouting for now I am the owner of a hoarse voice. This race was one many people had Marc Marquez pitted certainly for the win considering his performance in Austin just one week ago, but this is Sunday and anything can happen. The podium saw to familiar faces, Valentino Rossi (race winner) and Andrea Dovizioso, accompanied by a new face on the third step so far this season in Cal Crutchlow.
My voice is hoarse from all the yelling of the last part of the race’s battles. As expected Marquez pulled ahead and away from every one else who was left battling themselves over second position. Repsol shodden the 22 year old’s bike with the hard rear tire, as did many of the other racers on grid, in hopes that with the immediate performance at the start of the race he could simply pull away and manage the gap towards the end. It was all going according to plan, perfectly if you can believe it, but this was a gamble as Rossi gambled against every one going with the EXTRA hard rear tire. Preferring to suffer from early race performance for the late stage drop in lap times.
At one point Marquez had a gap of over four seconds from the nearest rider. Four seconds. FOUR SECONDS. Not entirely the large gap Marc is known for but with a hard rear tire this gap was sufficient to nurse it all the way home for the win. Rossi had other thoughts on it as his pace kept slashing tenths after tenths in every sector lap after lap. With 11 laps to go and a four second deficit the gamble was about to be realized if it would favor the old dog. I turn my vision from the monitor and when I came back to I saw with my eyes that Rossi was lapping a second quicker than Marquez. Was this true? Was betting on an extra hard actually paying dividends when it mattered most? You bet it was!
I shouted at every sector’s timing as it flashed across the screen. Little bit little the gap was diminishing. Rossi was proving his craft as a master racer and a strategist in every sense of the word. Seven laps to go gap is down a few tenths, 4 laps to go a full second is shredded from the leader, 2 laps to go and now they’re rear tire to front, almost touching! Rossi overtook Marquez under the brakes before a turn, pitting the young man to assume the second position, but this wasn’t going to be easy. 93 fought back IMMEDIATELY putting his bike in the way, touching visibly hard but exiting the corner both unscathed. All this was too soon as right when both got on the gas on this short straight going into the next braking zone Marquez’s front tire crossed path with that of Rossi’s rear and sent his Repsol Honda tumbling into the asphalt. With Marquez on the floor victory was just a sweet lap away.
The closest challenger now was Andrea Dovizioso. When asked on parc fermè whether or not he could have caught up to the race leader and eventual winner he simply replied ‘Valentino’s pace was too much for me.’ That people should show you how much this old dog has fight in him. Dovi’s second place has now marked him with three (2nd) places in all of the races so far this season. Signs that the Ducati is now a contender for wins and not to mention maybe a championship seeing how he is sitting ins second position behind Rossi just six points shy.
The other heated battle award could go to that of Crutchlow and Iannone. Both fought hard in the beginning of the race with Crutchlow giving way to Iannone leading him for most of the race. As the focus was on the Rossi/Marquez battle it panned to these two just in time as you see Crutchlow pipping the Maniac Joe in the very last corner for the last step on the podium. He may be showing signs of coming back to form after a disastrous year on the Ducati team last year.
With all that great action in only the third race this is the most competitive field I have ever witnessed in Grand Prix racing of motorcycles. Next stop is Jerez in two weeks time until then I am sure every one is back in their pits talking strategy! Bring on the Europe leg of the season!