Cal Crutchlow has won one of the most controversial MotoGP races in recent years, at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit, Argentina. The British rider clocked up his third GP win and now leads the championship – the first British rider to do so since Barry Sheene in 1979. Frenchman Johann Zarco finished 2nd, with Suzuki ace Alex Rins completing the podium.
The controversy began when every rider and team wheeled their machines off the grid, in order to complete a last minute switch of tyres from wets to slicks. Jack Miller was the only rider who was waiting on the grid, already in his slick tyres. The race was then delayed, whilst everyone made changes to tyres, set up and preparations. With Miller’s anger clear for all to see, officials discussed plans of action and eventually, everyone would start approximately 50 metres behind Miller, who was now alone on the front row.
The controversy continued at the end of the warm up lap, as Marc Marquez stalled his Repsol Honda, however using the empty grid in front of him to push-start his bike. His attempts proved successful, however he then rode back up the grid and formed his position, despite the normal procedure being that a rider must then start from pit-lane.
The race got underway, with Miller obviously ahead into the first turn. Aleix Espargaro got a bad start but everyone managed to negotiate the opening few corners successfully – unlike in the 2017 event. At the end of the first lap, Zarco made a bold and risky move on Dani Pedrosa, who was forced out onto the wetter part of the track, subsequently high-siding out of the race.
Following the starting incident, in which Marquez said a marshall allowed him back to his starting grid, the Spaniard was given a ride-through penalty, of which he served on lap 6. On lap 9, he collided with Aleix Espargaro at a frightening closing speed on the run through turn 12, punting Aleix Espargaro off the track.
At the front, a four-way battle soon ensued, with Jack Miller leading Johann Zarco, Alex Rins and Cal Crutchlow, who was biding his time. Behind them, Dovizioso and Rabat battled, whilst the factory Yamaha duo of Vinales and Rossi had been caught by Hafizh Syahrin, Andrea Iannone and Scott Redding.
On lap 16, Alex Rins took the lead at turn 6, after a quick dice with Jack Miller at the turn 5 hairpin. A lap and a corner later, Rins ran wide and Crutchlow picked both him and Zarco off, whilst Jack Miller resumed the lead of the race. On lap 18, Crutchlow took the lead after a Jack Miller mistake, which subsequently left the Australian in 4th until the end.
On lap 19 occurred what was probably one of the biggest talking points of the entire race. Marquez, at turn 13, lunged up the inside of 6th-placed Valentino Rossi, hitting him and running him out to the edge of the circuit. Rossi was forced onto the wet grass and toppled over. He restarted, finishing 19th, whilst Marquez set off after Vinales, of which there was also a hard pass on the last lap.
Zarco also took the lead briefly but Crutchlow snatched it back and would keep it to the end of the race, becoming the first British rider since Hailwood in 1963 to win a premier class race in Argentina. Marquez was handed a 30 second time penalty and finished in 18th, ahead of Rossi in 19th.
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