Marquez Claims 25th MotoGP Win and World Championship Lead

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) rode a masterful race at Termas de Rio Hondo this afternoon to score his first victory of 2016 and take the World Championship points lead.

Repsol Honda Team
Repsol Honda Team

At the end of a difficult weekend for the entire MotoGP grid, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) came through for a third-place finish to promote himself to third overall and give the Repsol Honda team a double podium.

Another highlight for Honda was an historic Moto3 victory by Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW), who became the first Malaysian to win a motorcycle Grand Prix. Pawi is the latest talent to emerge from the burgeoning South East Asian racing scene and has been a Honda rider throughout his career.

The second round of motorcycling’s 2016 World Championship was a truly dramatic weekend, with the MotoGP race run over a shortened distance with a compulsory mid-race pit stop to switch bikes for new tires, due to safety concerns. During Saturday practice Scott Redding (Ducati) suffered a delaminating rear tire, which prompted tire-suppliers Michelin to err on the side of caution while the damage tire was returned to the company’s French base for examination.

Yesterday Marquez – winner here in 2014 – once again proved his speed around this fast, undulating circuit by securing a superb pole position, almost four tenths of a second faster than last year’s winner Valentino Rossi (Yamaha).

However, the compulsory pit stop threw another unknown into the mix and left every rider approaching today’s race in apprehensive mood. Rain during the night and morning heightened the tension further, with damp patches around the track for all three races.

Marquez was stunning to watch in the race. He spent the early laps battling with Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), the lead changing several times as finally Dovizioso lost touch. Marquez entered the pits at the end of lap ten, with Rossi right behind him. Thanks to the ability of his Repsol Honda crew and his athletic bike-swap technique, Marquez emerged from pit lane still ahead and began an even more impressive second half. He immediately made the break from Rossi to set his fastest time on lap 13 and take the checkered flag 7.679 seconds in front of the Italian.

The 23-year-old’s 25th premier-class win puts him equal with another racing legend, Kevin Schwantz, who won the 1993 500cc world title.

Pedrosa qualified at the top of the second row of the grid, so he had hopes of a good race, at least until he was badly rammed by another rider in the frantic first corner, which sent him very wide and relegated him to 15th at the end of the first lap. From there the 30-year-old kept calm and began a steady climb back to the front, his position further improved when several rivals fell by the wayside ahead of him, some of them caught out by those tricky damp patches of tarmac.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) found the positives from a race in which he crashed twice. The Briton felt he had the pace to repeat his 2015 podium, but slid off at Turn One, which claimed numerous victims throughout the weekend. Never one to give in, Crutchlow got going again, only to slide off once again after his pit stop.

Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) scored a heartening top-ten finish in his second MotoGP race. The Spaniard spent some time behind Crutchlow and Bradley Smith (Yamaha), giving him valuable insight into the technique needed to extract the maximum from a MotoGP machine. Like Crutchlow, Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) was left to ponder what might have been after crashed out of a strong sixth place. The young Australian had been pushing too hard to keep up with the leading group but leaves Argentina having taken useful strides forward as a MotoGP rider.

Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport Kalex) produced a performance of a reigning World Champion to take his maiden win of 2016 in the Honda-powered Moto2 series. Starting from second on the grid, the Frenchman triumphed by breaking clear of an intense battle with Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex), Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS Kalex) and Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex).

Zarco’s performance echoed his rides that took him to the 2015 championship. He clocked the fastest lap of the race on the final circuit to take the checkered flag 1.347 seconds ahead of Lowes. The Briton was determined to challenge for the win in the final laps, but a mistake in the final stages gave Zarco enough breathing space.

Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS Kalex) came agonizingly close to a debut podium, sliding off on a damp patch on the penultimate lap, causing him to lose the front. His mistake promoted early leader Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex) to third.

Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) paid the price for a tentative start to his race. The Spaniard dropped to seventh in the early stages, then staged an impressive comeback to fourth place, within six seconds of the race winner.

Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten Kalex) won a duel with Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex) for fifth, while Qatar Moto2 winner Thomas Luthi’s (Garage Plus Interwetten Kalex) finished seventh to retain the championship lead.

Axel Pons (AGR Team Kalex) was eighth ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex). Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Kalex) rounded out the top ten.
Pawi swept all before him in the Moto3 race – only his third Grand prix ride – to cross the line 26 seconds ahead of second-place man Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW).

The 17-year-old from Perak, north of Kuala Lumpur, has worked his way into the World Championship through the Malaysian, Asian and European racing scenes. In 2014 he rode a Honda to victory in the national ‘underbone’ championship, a race series for machines that are modern interpretations of the first Super Cub created by Soichiro Honda in the 1950s. The same year Pawi rode a Honda CBR250R to the Asia Dream Cup title. Last year he finished sixth in the FIM CEV Moto3 Junior World Championship and made his GP debut at Aragon, riding a Honda NSF250RW. This season is Pawi’s first full GP campaign. His team is run by Tadayuki Okada, a 250 and 500 GP winner in the 1990s, aboard Honda machinery.

Every Moto3 rider, apart from Livio Loi (RW Racing GP Honda NSF250RW), began the 21-lap race on slicks, despite numerous damp patches from earlier rain. But any thoughts that the first few laps would be cautious were swept away by Pawi, who stretched a 20-second advantage in just eight laps. At times Pawi was a full four seconds faster a lap than his pursuers as he dazzled onlookers with a demonstration of precision and control. Loi held second in the early stages, until his rain tires wore out on the drying track. That left Navarro and another Malaysian youngster, Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team Honda NSF250RW), to fight for second.

Their battle was decided on the penultimate turn of the final lap when Norrodin fell, trying to attack his Spanish rival. That gave Navarro a valuable 20 points to put him third overall. Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) claimed sixth place, just seven tenths from third-placed finisher Brad Binder (KTM). Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team Honda NSF250RW) was ninth, narrowly ahead of Qatar winner Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda NSF250RW), who now lies second overall. Norrodin fell so close to the checkered flag that he was able to push his NSF250RW over the line to claim eleventh.

The MotoGP paddock is now heading north to the United States for next weekend’s third round, at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.


Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa
Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa
Johann Zarco
Johann Zarco

Honda MotoGP Rider Quotes

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: 1st
“I’m really happy with this win because we’ve worked very, very hard during the pre-season, in Qatar and here. Honda is working very well and I feel the support; we’re going in the same direction, and that’s the most important thing. It’s a special win, not only because it’s the first one of the year but also because with the team, we managed the situation very well, and after what happened in Australia on a similar occasion [in 2013], it was important for us to do well. I knew that the first part of the race would be tough because it was still damp in some places, and with the first bike I hadn’t felt as good as with the other one even during practice. I knew that the second part of the race was the key. I pushed 100% in the first five laps after the bike change, I opened a gap and after that I just kept the distance.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 3rd
“I had a good start but someone came straight through the first turn, and I had to pick up my bike and go wide in order to avoid him. If I had kept my line, for sure I would’ve crashed, so I went way out and then found myself in the middle of the group. It was very difficult because the lines they were doing were quite crazy, and of course I lost a lot of ground there. Anyway, my pace wasn’t good, and that’s disappointing, but I tried to keep my line for the entire race. Finally, this was maybe the luckiest day of my career because many riders crashed in front of me and I was able to take third. Last year I wasn’t even here, so it’s positive to be on the podium this time. Anyway, we have to look ahead and keep working hard to improve the bike to be faster.”
Tito Rabat, EG 0,0 Marc VDS: 9th
“It has been a very complicated weekend with the changing weather and track conditions and I think it was very positive outcome for us. In every session we improved the bike and I have gained experience of riding a MotoGP bike in the wet for the first time and the two-part race also gave me the opportunity to understand the flag-to-flag scenario. It was good in the race to make a lap behind Marquez to see how he is riding and where he is strong. In the last laps I really learned a lot when I was with Crutchlow and Smith and it gave me a great chance to understand where I can improve. It is more gaining more experience with my riding technique, so hopefully I can build on this first top 10 in Austin next weekend. Finally I want to say a big thanks to my team. They are giving me great support and we are making progress, which is the most important thing.”
Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda: DNF
“We came here to finish on the podium. I had the pace to finish on the podium but I didn’t. I made two mistakes. The first one I braked behind Lorenzo into turn one. I had made up a couple of places, I clipped him with my shoulder and I crashed. I was really lucky with that crash as I was on the floor and Aleix’s bike just missed me. I got back on the bike and it had some damage but I still had a reasonable pace that was still good enough to be competitive in that front group. When I changed bike I had to push as hard as possible but I kept finding slower riders in front of me. The problem was it was difficult to pass. Then after the pit stop I went into turn three and hit a white line on the inside of the corner. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. But we showed in Qatar that we have good pace and I hope to do better in Austin.”
Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda: DNF
“We came here to finish on the podium. I had the pace to finish on the podium but I didn’t. I made two mistakes. The first one I braked behind Lorenzo into turn one. I had made up a couple of places, I clipped him with my shoulder and I crashed. I was really lucky with that crash as I was on the floor and Aleix’s bike just missed me. I got back on the bike and it had some damage but I still had a reasonable pace that was still good enough to be competitive in that front group. When I changed bike I had to push as hard as possible but I kept finding slower riders in front of me. The problem was it was difficult to pass. Then after the pit stop I went into turn three and hit a white line on the inside of the corner. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. But we showed in Qatar that we have good pace and I hope to do better in Austin.”

Honda Moto2 Rider Quotes

Johann Zarco, Ajo Motorsport: 1st
“Honestly, I did not know if I was really strong in these conditions, but before the race I thought I should be careful. Being in the lead group was very important, because then it would have been more difficult to reduce any gap later on. I started to get in control and did everything I could to avoid the wettest areas of the track, then began to push. Maybe I made a few small mistakes, as I was fighting against other riders such as Morbidelli. When the track dried out further I focused much more, and when I had the opportunity to lead the race I felt more comfortable using my lines and taking advantage of the gap to push harder and get everything under control. In the end I succeeded. I am very happy with the victory, and after Qatar this is fantastic. I hope things go the same way in Texas.”
Sam Lowes, Federal Oil Gresini Moto2: 2nd
“The conditions were not easy today, but I had a good pace so I was expecting to do a strong race today. I was in the lead for several laps and it’s definitely a nice feeling, then with five laps to go I made a small mistake that made me lose contact with Zarco and therefore I didn’t have the opportunity to attack him in the final laps. After the mistake I was fast and I managed to quickly pass Morbidelli in front of me, so I’m satisfied. I’m happy with this start to the season: I had the pace to win also in Qatar and the championship is already looking quite good, because I’m only seven points off the lead. We are working hard and the team is doing a great job, the bike has been good on all the tracks I’ve been riding this year and also this morning and I felt really good in the wet. The goal this year is to fight for the title, even if we know that it won’t be easy to beat reigning champion Zarco, but we’ll try. It’s going to be a good season.”
Jonas Folger, Dynavolt Intact GP: 3rd
“It was a very hard race. It was very difficult at the beginning to understand the limit, because there were a lot of wet parts on the track. Usually you have very low grip level when there are wet patches and you are on slick tires. But here it was quite good. In the beginning I was leading, then Johann, Sam and Morbidelli passed me and it was very hard to follow them because the pace was really strong. But I could manage more or less to stay where I was. I was thinking maybe to take Sam or Franco in the last lap. But then Morbidelli crashed in front of me and I lost also some space to Sam. I just tried to take the points home. I’m really happy to have the first podium with my new team!”

Honda Moto3 Rider Quotes

Khairul Idham Pawi, Honda Team Asia: 1st
“I am very happy to have won today in these difficult conditions, but the race was not so difficult for me because my team did an excellent job. During the race, I made my best to keep consistent lap times and pull away other riders. I would like to share this victory with everyone who always supports me.”
Jorge Navarro, Estrella Galicia 0,0: 2nd
“The hardest thing about today’s race was deciding on the starting grid which tires we were going to use. This track has good grip and we eventually opted for slicks. The first few laps were used to check the state of the track and I let a few laps go by calmly in order not to take risks. However, when I saw that the group was a little dangerous because there were riders in there who aren’t used to being so high up the order –and could make mistakes–, I decided to put myself at the head of the pack and push. I caught Norrodin and when I saw that Pawi was far ahead, I decided to use caution and kept my pace up until the end. On the last lap I knew Norrodin would try a move, but he had several scares and went down at the last corner. I feel sorry for him, but for us this result is very good.”
Hiroki Ono, Honda Team Asia: 6th
“I made a decent start and did a good battle in the group. To be honest, I am a bit disappointed to have finished in sixth place because I had to struggle in high-speed corners. Anyway, we had a good race today and I am looking forward to going to Austin.”
Tadayuki Okada, Jorge Navarro, Khairul Idham PAWI
Tadayuki Okada, Jorge Navarro, Khairul Idham PAWI
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2016
Round 02: Argentina Race
MotoGP Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)
2 Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)
3 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
4 Eugene LAVERTY (Aspar MotoGP Team)
5 Hector BARBERA (Avintia Racing)
6 Pol ESPARGARO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
7 Stefan BRADL (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
8 Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
9 Tito RABAT (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
10 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
12 Michele PIRRO (OCTO Pramac Yakhnich)
13 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)
RT Andrea IANNONE (Ducati Team)
Moto2 Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Johann ZARCO (Ajo Motorsport)
2 Sam LOWES (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)
3 Jonas FOLGER (Dynavolt Intact GP)
4 Alex RINS (Paginas Amarillas HP 40)
5 Dominique AEGERTER (CarXpert Interwetten)
6 Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)
7 Thomas LUTHI (Garage Plus Interwetten)
8 Axel PONS (AGR Team)
9 Takaaki NAKAGAMI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)
10 Mattia PASINI (Italtrans Racing Team)
11 Marcel SCHROTTER (AGR Team)
12 Xavier SIMEON (QMMF Racing Team)
13 Lorenzo BALDASSARRI (Forward Team)
14 Xavi VIERGE (Tech 3 Racing)
15 Luis SALOM (Stop and Go Racing Team)
Moto3 Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Khairul Idham PAWI (Honda Team Asia)
2 Jorge NAVARRO (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
3 Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
4 Andrea LOCATELLI (Leopard Racing)
5 Joan MIR (Leopard Racing)
6 Hiroki ONO (Honda Team Asia)
7 John MCPHEE (Peugeot SaxoPrint RTG)
8 Jorge MARTIN (ASPAR Mahindra Team Moto3)
9 Jakub KORNFEIL (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team)
10 Niccolò ANTONELLI (Ongetta-Rivacold)
11 Adam NORRODIN (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team)
12 Juanfran GUEVARA (RBA Racing Team)
13 Fabio QUARTARARO (Leopard Racing)
14 Maria HERRERA (MH6 Laglisse)
15 Philipp OETTL (Schedl GP Racing)
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