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Moto2: Argentina Preview: Italians, Italians everywhere

Image: Honda Pro Racing

Moto2 is spicing up in 2018, with any one of 10 possible winners and just as many championship challengers. Like Moto3, there will be a new winner of the intermediate class race at the Argentine Grand Prix, with all former winners moving into MotoGP. The Argentine Grand Prix will be the 142nd Moto2 race since the class replaced the 250cc class in 2009. Will we see a 33rd different winner?

Francesco Bagnaia is in brilliant form, having won the opening race of the season. Bagnaia was 7th at Termas de Rio Hondo last season and could make it the second successive season that an Italian has won the opening two races – something that has not happened since 1991 and 1992, with Luca Cadalora. Can he carry on his momentum and take another victory, or will it be someone else?

Looking good so far this weekend, Lorenzo Baldassarri has grown in stature in 2018. A phenomenal 2nd place in Qatar puts Baldassarri as a real dark-horse for a championship challenge in 2018. Baldassarri was 4th at Termas de Rio Hondo last season, his joint best finish of the season. If he does win, then he would become the fifth different Italian to win in the intermediate class in Argentina.

Alex Marquez started his season with a 3rd place at Losail, having to make the most of his Kalex, which had a rear brake problem. Marquez crashed out of the Moto2 race on the last lap in 2017, chasing his teammate for victory. The last Spaniard to win at the circuit in the intermediate class was Esteve Rabat in 2014, also on the Marc VDS Kalex. Can Marquez repeat the success of his fellow compatriot?

Mattia Pasini makes it three Italians in the top four, as he goes in search of his first GP win of the season. Pasini has so far looked good in Argentina, although the 32-year-old’s previous form at the track is nothing massive to shout about. With just one top-10 finish to his name at the circuit in 2016, Pasini will look to be a contender on Sunday.

Miguel Oliveira was a little bit of a disappointment in Losail, I think most people expected a bit more from KTM. Oliveira was a pole-sitter last season in Moto2 at this track and also in 2015 in Moto3. Starting from row three today, the Portuguese rider will need to pick his way through in difficult conditions. With a 2nd place last year, he will want to go one better this season.

Teammate to Oliveira, South African Brad Binder was a solid 6th, whilst also being a little bit disappointing too. The 2016 Moto3 champion starts 2018 with full-fitness, which is crucial after the tricky start to 2017. Binder was an unbelievable 9th in Argentina last year with a broken arm and will almost certainly want to a top-5 finish in the race.

Other riders to watch out for include Xavi Vierge, who starts from pole, following a brilliant qualifying time. Luca Marini is good in wet weather and will look to make that a strong point in the race. Jorge Navarro is continuously getting quicker, whilst Joe Roberts and Remy Gardner have both been shockingly quick in the wet weather so far. Danny Kent starts from 3rd, whilst Joan Mir has also looked good, despite a poor qualifying. Hector Barbera is another rider who will be keen to step back on a podium for the first time since Valencia, 2009.

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