Bezzecchi scores breakthrough victory at Argentina MotoGP

Marco Bezzecchi

Marco Bezzecchi

Marco Bezzecchi tamed the wet conditions in Argentina to win the Sunday MotoGP race at Termas de Rio Honda for his first-ever premier class victory.

The Italian also delivered a maiden success for the VR46 Ducati team and had the honour of becoming the first rider to win for the Italian manufacturer in Argentina.

Bezzecchi, second in the Sprint race at Round 2 of the championship on Saturday, also now leads the world standings going into the third round at the Circuit of The Americas in Texas in two weeks’ time.

He crossed the line four seconds clear of Frenchman Johann Zarco, who stormed home on the final laps to seal a battling runner-up finish, while pole man Alex Marquez claimed the final rostrum spot for Gresini Ducati.

Sprint winner Brad Binder finished outside the points after he crashed out on the opening lap at Turn 5 following contact with Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales.

Lenovo Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia was also empty-handed after he slid off shortly after moving into second place on Lap 18.

Bezzecchi – fastest in the wet morning warm-up session – pounced for the lead at the first corner when Franco Morbidelli went wide on the Monster Energy Yamaha, with Marquez moving into second ahead of Bagnaia.

As the pack jostled for position, Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo dropped to the rear of the field after he was pushed wide by Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda). The incident plus Viñales’ contact with Binder was placed under investigation by race stewards, but no further action was taken.

Australian Jack Miller was making the conditions work in his favour. The Red Bull KTM rider gained several positions after starting from the rear of the grid and was into 13th on Lap 2 as the rain continued to fall.

At the front, Bezzecchi was now easing away, extending his advantage to more than two seconds over Marquez by Lap 9, with Bagnaia still holding third from Morbidelli.

Fabio Di Giannantonio was having a strong ride on the Gresini Ducati, fighting for the top six with Alex Rins (LCR Honda) and Zarco.

Bezzecchi, though, was in total control just after the halfway point of the 25-lap race, increasing his lead to 3.6s over Marquez, with Bagnaia and Morbidelli holding station in an unchanged top four.

Jorge Martin was making smooth progress on the Pramac Ducati and worked his way into sixth behind team-mate Zarco, with Rins seventh on Lap 15 ahead of Miller as Giannantonio now began to fade.

Bagnaia picked off Marquez on Lap 16 to move into second on the factory Desmosedici.

However, there was a dramatic twist on Lap 18 when Bagnaia went down at Turn 13. He re-joined the race in 16th ahead of Binder, who had also returned to the race after his early spill.

In the final stretch, Zarco was on the march with five laps remaining and began to hunt down Morbidelli in third, while Martin was ahead of sixth-placed Miller and the improving Quartararo, who recovered impressively from his earlier shunt with Nakagami.

As anticipated, Zarco swept past Morbidelli to move into the podium places on Lap 23 and began to rapidly close in on Marquez on the penultimate lap.

Zarco then made his move on the brakes to snatch the runner-up spot from Marquez at the end of the long straight, immediately putting some daylight between himself and the Gresini man.

Bezzecchi, never troubled, closed out a memorable maiden MotoGP triumph by four seconds following a dominant ride to bag a maximum 25 points, with Zarco and Marquez completing an all-Ducati podium.

Morbidelli repeated his result from the Sprint race with another solid fourth for Yamaha, while Martin and Miller topped the first six.

Quartararo finally earned some decent points in seventh on the second of the factory Yamaha machines, 11 seconds behind the winner, while Luca Marini came home in eighth on the VR46 Ducati. Rins and Giannantonio finalised the top 10.

Rookie Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Tech3 KTM), Viñales, Nakagami, Raul Fernandez (RNF Aprilia) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) in 15th – last year’s dry race winner in Argentina – mopped up the last available points.

Bagnaia eventually finished in 16th ahead of Binder.

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