MotoGP Rio Hondo Results

© Bruce Allen. Exclusive to Motorcycle.com

Marquez Rules Argentina; Rossi Sighting on Podium 

What, you are wondering, do Argentina, the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany have in common? They are owned, lock, stock and barrel, by Repsol Honda prodigy Marc Marquez. A benevolent dictator, Marquez allows the other MotoGP riders to follow him around these tracks, not bothering to charge for lessons. Today’s easy win at Rio Hondo gives the Catalan 15 wins from 18 starts at his three personal sandboxes.

Practice and Qualifying

Conditions on Friday and Saturday were clear and warm, conducive to fast times. The top five finishers at the end of the day on Friday included Dovizioso, Jack Miller (?), Maverick Vinales, Cal Crutchlow and impertinent rookie Fabio Quartararo, enjoying another fast, fun weekend on the Petronas Yamaha M1. Marquez, getting serious on Saturday, led the way into Q2 joined by Lorenzo, both factory Ducatis and all four Yamahas. Jack Miller on the Pramac Ducati and Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda completed the front row and rounded out the lambs heading straight for Q2.

The Q1 goatfest was dominated by ascendant Japanese heartthrob Takaa Nakagami who was, in turn, joined in the bar mitzvah to Q2 by little brother Pol Espargaro and his KTM RC-16, who annoyingly stole the Q2 promotion very late in the session from older brother Aleix on the Aprilia. The second-most surprising report for the day was submitted by the Suzuki team of Rins and Mir, neither of whom could get anything going and who would start Sunday from 16th and 19th positions respectively. I had picked one of them for a podium the following day. As if.

Q2 took off in short order and Marquez shot to the top, working a two-stop strategy. He messed up the hot lap on his #2 tire, returned to the pit, waited while the crew mounted a third rear tire (bike #2 being unavailable after having the chain come off during FP4), and went back out to set the pole lap in front of Dovizioso and Vinales. Row 2 was comprised of Rossi, Miller and Franco Morbidelli, one of four (4!) Yamahas to qualify in the top seven. The 2019 iteration of the Yamaha M1 is better than the 2018 version in that it is able to generate at least one hot lap per session. This is big news. As is Cal slipping to 8th after being fast all weekend. And Jorge slipping down to 12th after his 11th place “hot lap” was deleted for exceeding track limits.

As Saturday drew to a close, the grid shared several major concerns. One, would Marquez take the hole shot on Sunday and vanish into the ether, leaving the other 21 riders to fight over second place? And two, would the weather end up being as bad as the forecast promised, tossing a major spanner into the works of most of the teams?

Finally, the first two days of the Argentine round proved one thing beyond any doubt: The Bridgestones were faster than the Michelins. At least here. No one came within a half second of Marquez’ 2014 qualifying lap of 1:37.683. Moto2 saw another track record fall, this time to Xavi Vierge, a full-size man, as the big Triumph engines appear to have considerably more grunt than the previous 600cc Hondas. Nothing new in Moto3 concerning Miguel Oliveira’s amazeballs track record from 2015. Comparing the top Moto2 qualifiers to the bottom MotoGP qualifiers in Qatar and Argentina, there is only a 2½ second difference. Last year it averaged over 4 seconds after two rounds.

A Stroll in the Park…

If only there were some way to inject some drama in today’s race for the flag. Marquez had things his way all weekend, other than the mechanical issue in FP4. Practices were a breeze, qualifying was a breeze, and the race was a laugher, over almost before it started. Under clear skies, Marquez took the hole shot at the start, found clean air on the back side of Turn 1, and was off to the races. He led the field by 2.5 seconds at the start of Lap 3. His lead got above 12 seconds late in the race before he backed off, and he still won by over 8 seconds, an eternity in MotoGP. Valentino Rossi returned to the podium for the first time since Germany in 2018, finally overtaking Andrea Dovizioso for good on the last lap and sending his thousands of disciples into paroxysms of joy, the 197th podium of his ridiculous career.

…Amidst a Confederacy of Dunces

Although he clearly won it on his own, Marquez had plenty of help from his challengers. Both Maverick Vinales and Jorge Lorenzo got completely swamped at the start, Vinales converting a second spot on the grid to his customary 8th position after two laps, The New Vinales looking much the same as The Old. Lorenzo, meanwhile, appeared to be in third gear when the red lights went out, quickly falling to last place before reaching the first turn. Lorenzo did manage to finish—12th, 28 seconds behind his teammate—while Vinales got taken down from behind by fellow Yamaha pilot Franco Morbidelli on Lap 25. Morbidelli’s brain fart cost Yamaha two additional spots in the top eight, and what might have been a post-race party in the factory garage may have become, instead, an inquisition.

Cal Crutchlow, another fast mover all weekend, did his part to ensure Marquez’ win by jumping the start and assuming 22nd position exiting his ride-through penalty. He ended up scoring three (3) points on a day he should have podiumed. After the race, he appeared to be in hurry-up mode on his way to Race Direction for a free frank exchange of ideas, where Mike Webb would squelch most of his ire with electronic proof of his error.

Elsewhere on the Grid

Jack Miller had his Pramac Ducati in the top five all day before finishing 4th, while Danilo Petrucci ended his day 6th after starting on the fourth row. My boy Alex Rins, who got faced in qualifying, starting 16th, got his groove on late in the day and settled for 5th place after a brief podium flirtation with a couple laps to go. His teammate Joan Mir was stuck in the mud all weekend, and called it a day with four laps left, gremlins at work in his machine. As proof that every dog has his day, KTM pilots Pol Espargaro and rookie Miguel Oliveira placed 10th and 11th, while Aleix Espargaro put his Aprilia in the top ten along with LCR Honda’s Takaa Nakagami and that pesky rookie Fabio Quartararo again. To me, when it comes to Yamaha, there’s Rossi, and then there are the other three guys.

The dynamic Reale Avintia duo of Karel Abraham and Tito Rabat found separate gravel traps mid-race within about a minute of one another. And, in another example of Not Really Giving a Rip, moody Andrea Iannone started and finished last, quickly working himself out of a job, possibly dreaming of posterizing Alvaro Bautista over in World SuperBike.

All in all, the worst fears of the entire industry were realized as Marc Marquez seized the lead in the championship, dunking on the pseudo-Aliens and now heading to COTA, Circuit of The Antman. For his putative challengers at the top of the MotoGP food chain, this must feel like being duct-taped to a steel bench having to watch a video loop of Marquez passing them over and over again, each time bumping them into a trackside mud puddle. Painful, frustrating and embarrassing. No wonder everyone’s in such a hurry to get back to Spain.

First Tranches of 2019

Before Losail:

Tranche 1:   Marc Marquez, Alex Rins, Maverick Vinales

Tranche 2:   Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi, Danilo Petrucci, Jorge Lorenzo

Tranche 3:   Jack Miller, Pecco Bagnaia, Takaa Nakagami, Cal Crutchlow, Tito Rabat, Franco Morbidelli,  Johann Zarco

Tranche 4:   Fabio Quartararo, Pol and Aleix Espargaro, Joan Mir, Andrea Iannone

Tranche 5:   Miguel Oliveira, Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin

After Rio Hondo:

Tranche 1:   Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow

Tranche 2:   Alex Rins, Danilo Petrucci, Jack Miller, Maverick Vinales

Tranche 3:   Pecco Bagnaia, Takaa Nakagami, Fabio Quartararo, Franco Morbidelli, Pol and Aleix Espargaro

Tranche 4:   Joan Mir, Andrea Iannone, Jorge Lorenzo, Tito Rabat, Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira

Tranche 5:   Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin

A Few Action Shots from Rio Hondo

Moto2 screenshotScreenshot1Screenshot2Screenshot3

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11 Responses to “MotoGP Rio Hondo Results”

  1. Vrooom Says:

    I think you got the tranching right, hopefully Vinales earns his spot at the end of tranche 2. Weren’t you saying it was Vinales garage a while back? He seems to have Rossi in practice and qualifying, but when it comes time to race he don’t.

    Like

  2. Bruce Allen Says:

    Vinnie, at one point, was The Future. Now, I think folks are less sure. Unless he gets his shit, um, act together later this year and ALL of next year the factory team may be looking for two riders for 2021. They could probably do worse than simply moving FM and FQ up and putting a couple of VR46 guns from Moto2, plus new team principal Valentino Rossi, on the satellite team. VR46 Petronas Yamaha Racing Team has a nice ring to it. Academy grads Baldassarri and Marini in the saddles. Fluorescent yellow-based color scheme, etc.

    Like

    • Old MOron Says:

      Oh, now you think folks are less sure (about Vinny)?
      What do YOU think, Brucey?

      You’ve been touting Vinny over Vale since day one…
      And you’ve been wrong since day one.

      Eventually you’ll be right, since eventually Vale really will age out. But in the mean time, you’re going to get your rash of shit.

      Like

  3. Bruce Allen Says:

    I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again. I got fooled by his ridiculously fast start on the Yam in 2017. That, and he’s, like, 15 years younger. I’ve thought he’s the future while Rossi’s the past. Now, it doesn’t look like he’s the future anymore. And Rossi has turned the title of the book upside-down: How to Go from Great to Good.

    Like

  4. Barry_Allen Says:

    If Marquez’s (when successful) past in Argentina is any indication of what’s to come in Austin, his crew might want to consider adding a pillion seat for his girlfriend so he won’t be so lonely out in front. A nine second lead is his biggest margin of victory ever in dry conditions. It should have been twelve except he let off of the throttle in the last turn and coasted to his crew’s position just beyond the finish line.

    Vinales fired his crew chief Ramon Forcada at the end of last season. I don’t know if he said “it’s not you, it’s me” but yeah, Vinny, it looks like it was all you. All Forcada’s done since then is go to Petronas and build a Yamaha that Vinales spent 20 laps looking at the back of on Sunday. Unfortunately he got an even better look at it when Morbidelli’s exuberance put them both in the gravel on the last lap at the exact same moment that Vale passed Dovi.

    Speaking of Valentino’s pass, it was awfully nice of Rossi to give Marc the outright lead in the championship by pipping those four points off of Dovizioso.

    Takaa Nakagami is doing quite well on his 2018 Honda, but then he should, seeing as how it it is supposedly Marquez’s actual bike from last year. It seems the accounting boys at Honda insist on using up a truckload of spare parts designed for both Marc and Dani Pedrosa before they’ll put any new money into Takaa’s ride.

    I’m not sure why I tend to root for Brits in these things. After McPhee’s Moto3 crash, Lowes’ Moto2 Crash and Crutchlow’s phantom penalty I’m starting to realize how Red Sox and Cubs fans used to feel. Why can’t I stop? It just ain’t worth the anguish.

    Here’s the exchange between interviewer Gavin Emmett and Cal as Crutchlow stomped his way from Race Control to his trailer.

    GE: Cal, have you been able to see what happened close up from Race Direction because from us it looked like there was no jump start?
    CC: There wasn’t a jump start, but Freddie Spencer seems to think otherwise. But he raced in the 1980’s when they used to jump the start all the time, so I don’t know what his problem is.
    GE: You’ve had a closer look at that one , we don’t get to see the one across the line. Are you behind the line then, when the light goes out? It looks like it from the front.
    CC: I were behind the line. I didn’t jump the start. They say that I’m rolling, but on all of our images, and even on their images I’m not rolling and that’s sure.

    So Cal Crutchlow, the only other rider on the track in the 1:39’s all day is still convinced that he got a raw deal. A lot of people seem to think he’s right. At this point it doesn’t matter, the damage is done. Freddie Spencer said Cal is rolling when the lights go out, so that’s that. I’m sure some of us can remember, from the 90’s, how difficult it can be to define the word “is”.

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  5. Bruce Allen Says:

    As usual, Barry, you make a number of good points. Thanks.

    Like

    • Barry_Allen Says:

      Oops, I thought I posted that on MO. I had windows with both versions opened and I guess I went for the wrong one. Spring has sprung, and the pine trees are dumping literally tons of pollen into the air. My head has been in a fog for a week with sinus shenanigans. Oh well, you got to read it, Bruce, and that’s the main thing.

      As for me, I’m still winding my watch before I go to bed.
      Hope springs eternal, and all that.

      Like

  6. Old MOron Says:

    Good onya for bringing back the Brolly Girl GP, Brucey.
    Out of the contenders you noted, I think Karel Abraham’s girl my winner.

    Like

  7. Bruce Allen Says:

    Some of the riders, especially in the lower classes, had brolly GUYS!?! And Abraham actually had two ladies. I’m a little concerned the one in the photo is his wife.

    Like

    • Old MOron Says:

      I think you’re right. I remember years ago she was feeling up his thigh while he was on the starting grid. Her longevity indicates a solid relationship.

      Like

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