To the casual observer looking at the final result, the 2016 Argentine Grand Prix would appear to have been just another MotoGP race. Marc Marquez topped the podium, flanked by usual suspects Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa. Upon closer examination, however, it becomes clear that the racing gods were in complete control for the entire weekend. From FP1 to the final turn, it was el mano de Dios calling the shots.

Friday was as hot as the hinges of hell. The Yamahas cowered in the heat; defending world champion and Yamaha icon Jorge Lorenzo finished 12th in the morning, improving to 14th in the afternoon. Rossi managed 6th and 7th on Friday, but was not setting the world on fire, as it were. Riders complained that the track was dirty, that no effort had been made to put it in racing condition since its last use back in December. Turn 1 hosted a weekend-long series of crashes reminiscent of a 1960’s Jan and Dean anthem. Naturally, Dorna responded to the criticism by signing a new three year deal with Termas de Rio Hondo on Saturday.

Scott Redding survived a bit of a scare in practice, leading to some last minute safety precautions.

Saturday afternoon, Octo Pramac Ducati pilot Scott Redding was minding his own business, doing 200 mph down the back straight when he experienced a private deus ex machina, the tread flying off his rear casing like a semi shedding a retread. The impact removed a chunk of his rear fairing and left Redding with a welt on his back that looked like he’d been hit with a 2×4. Dorna immediately went into lockdown mode (curiously re-starting the practice session) and, in consultation with a chagrined Michelin, began issuing releases faster than the scribblers could send them home, the last and most coherent of which (on Sunday morning) follows:

The race distance is changed to 20 laps.


  • Riders must change bikes at the end of their ninth, tenth or 11th Lap.
  • If rain starts and Race Direction consider the situation to be dangerous the red flag will be shown and all riders should enter pit lane.
  • Teams will be given 15 minutes between the display of the red flag and opening of pit lane to make adjustments to the machines.
  • The second part of the race will be for 10 laps. Grid positions will be based on the result of the first part and will be declared a wet race.


  • Riders may enter the pits to change machines only from the end of their ninth lap.
  • If the wet race is red flagged for other reasons when more than 13 laps have been completed then the result will stand and there will be no restart.

Marquez laid down a blistering first flying lap during Q2 which stood up, maintaining his perfect record of starting from the pole in Argentina. Lorenzo and Rossi had regrouped after Friday and traded places several times late in the session, with Rossi ending up second and Lorenzo third. The second row included young phenom Maverick Vinales on the Suzuki, joined by the Dueling Andreas of the factory Ducati team, Dovizioso and Iannone.

Marc Marquez captured his third consecutive pole position at Rio Hondo.

A fifth practice session was hastily arranged for Sunday morning to introduce the riders to Michelin’s Fustercluck tire, an emergency compound intended for use only in the event of a Phillip Island 2013-scale disaster, which this was becoming. The session was abandoned when Sunday dawned wet; the Moto3 race was a wet race, the Moto2 affair declared “dry” but far from it. The track was drying quickly, the leaden clouds holding their water, so to speak. After twisting itself into knots trying to determine how to avoid sending the riders out on tires they had never previously tried, Race Direction ended up with a dry race run under the ad hoc rules published above.

As the riders lined up on the grid waiting for the lights to go out, the racing gods, done messing with the weather, were casting lots to determine who would end the day frolicking with the lambs in the “Lucky” column and who would end up with the goats in the “Unlucky” column. They apparently decided to consign one rider to a third category, “Thick as a Brick.”

Seriously, Are You Ever Going to Give Us the Race?

The start was dicey at best. Iannone and Pedrosa made contact in Turn 1, sending the Spaniard way wide and apparently ending his podium bid. The front group emerged late on Lap 1 comprised of Dovizioso, Rossi, Marquez, Vinales and Lorenzo. Goats Cal Crutchlow and Aleix Espargaro slid off simultaneously at Turn 1 (no kidding) of Lap 2, Crutchlow evading Espargaro’s unguided missile by inches. (Both would re-enter and continue racing, for whatever reason.) Yonny Hernandez, suffering the ignominy of starting his “home race” from the back of the grid, crashed out moments later. Goat.

We had the same reaction seeing Cal Crutchlow and Aleix Espargaro’s Lap 2 crashes.

Jack Miller, on the Marc VDS Honda, appearing lamb-like, climbed all the way up to 7th position and actually went through on the laboring Lorenzo before crashing out on Lap 3, unlucky as usual. Lorenzo himself, fresh off his win in Qatar, slid off at Turn 1 of Lap 6, his goat horns appearing as little winglets on his helmet.

Jorge Lorenzo’s crash capped off a disappointing Round 2 for the reigning world champion.

As the front group began thinking about their mandatory pit stops, Marquez led Rossi by less than a second, followed by Vinales and the two factory Ducatis. Rossi and Marquez went through on each other twice on Lap 9, providing a déjà vu of last year’s race. Vinales, Iannone and Pedrosa, among others, pitted on Lap 9 without incident. On Lap 10, Rossi tailgated Marquez into pit lane. Both made clean swaps, Marquez holding the lead exiting the pits. Along comes Tito Rabat on his Marc VDS Honda, a BFF of Marquez. Somehow (wink wink) Marquez managed to enter the track in front of Rabat, while Rossi was forced to yield. In the next minute, Marquez stretched his lead over Rossi from a few tenths to over two seconds. At the time, it appeared Rabat was helping his buddy; Rossi’s comments after the race dispelled that notion, as his #2 bike wasn’t nearly as sharp as #1 had been.

Valentino Rossi stayed on Marc Marquez’s tail through the first half of the race but couldn’t hang on after swapping bikes.

Marquez puts down a vapor trail, leaving Rossi to duke it out with upstart Vinales, the two Andreas snapping and snarling right behind him (Rabat had checked out, pitting on Lap 11), Pedrosa a mile behind. This went on for a while, with Vinales appearing to be lining Rossi up for a memorable pass. (Farther back in the pack, Redding, in pure goat mode, had climbed all the way up to seventh position before his Ducati stalled, putting the capper on a gruesome weekend for the likeable Brit.)

You could almost hear the gods howling with laughter during the final two laps. Vinales approaches Turn 1 on Lap 18 two feet off the racing line, finds a tiny puddle of water, and goes from lamb to goat in an instant, thoughts of his first premier class podium up in smoke. Rossi, clearly a lamb, is suddenly relieved of one serious threat to his podium hopes, but has two more, the Andreas, to contend with, both of whom seem to have more pace. Still, if you want to go through on Valentino Rossi late on Sunday, you had better pack your lunch, because it’s not gonna be easy.

Gigi Dall’Igna isn’t going to be happy about this.

Lap 20: Rossi is holding off Dovi, with Iannone threatening, in full Maniac mode, in the last three turns. Iannone, desperate for a podium after crashing out of the lead in Qatar, sees a possible opening in the last turn, dives inside, loses the front, and collects Dovizioso on his way into the kitty litter. Boom – game over. Dovi, the blameless lamb, is stuck with the worst luck of the day. Iannone must explain his actions to Race Direction and Gigi Dall’Igna, Thick as a Brick tattooed on his forehead. Pedrosa is shocked to suddenly find himself on the podium. And Eugene Laverty, on the Aspar Ducati, the luckiest lamb of all, finishes the day in fourth position, the leading satellite rider, a full eight spots higher than his previous best MotoGP career finish in Qatar two weeks ago. The only word to describe the look on his face in Parc Fermè is “stunned.”

The Big Picture

Marc Marquez seizes the 2016 championship lead, ahead of Rossi, Pedrosa and Lorenzo. Pedrosa, looking thoroughly downcast after the race, needs to figure out what’s up with his 2016 RC213V. Hector Barbera resides in seventh place for the season, ahead of off-season strivers Vinales and Redding. And The Maniac, who I had tagged as an Alien-in-waiting, having crashed out of five of his last six races, is 0 for 2016 after two rounds.

Next week it’s another Honda-friendly track in Austin. One hopes that the racing gods got their fill today. American racing fans don’t like all that livestock wandering around their racetracks.

With the win, Marc Marquez takes over top spot in the 2016 championship standings as the series heads to Texas.
2016 MotoGP Argentina Results
Pos. Rider Team Time
1 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda
2 Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha +7.679
3 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda +28.100
4 Eugene Laverty Aspar Ducati +36.542
5 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing +36.711
6 Pol Espargaro Monster Yamaha Tech3 +37.245
7 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini +41.353
8 Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech3 +50.709
9 Tito Rabat Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda +50.983
10 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini +1:01.388
11 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Ecstar +1:08.868
12 Michele Pirro Octo Pramac Yaknich Ducati +1:18.987
13 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Corse +1:33.419
Not Classified
Andrea Iannone Ducati 1 Lap
Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 1 Lap
Maverick Vinales Suzuki Ecstar 3 Laps
Scott Redding Octo Pramac Yaknich Ducati 5 Laps
Loris Baz Avintia Ducati 8 Laps
Jorge Lorenzo Movistar Yamaha 15 Laps
Jack Miller Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 17 Laps
Yonny Hernandez Aspar Ducati 18 Laps
2016 MotoGP Top Ten Standings After 2 Rounds
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1 Marc Marquez Honda 41
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 33
3 Dani Pedrosa Honda 27
4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 25
5 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 23
6 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 19
7 Hector Barbera Ducati 18
8 Eugene Laverty Ducati 17
9 Bradley Smith Yamaha 16
10 Maverick Vinales Suzuki 10
  • John A. Stockman

    Enthusiasts, riders, sponsors, OEMs have been suggesting, complaining, e-mailing and generally offering solutions ever since DMG took over and ran the OEMs off. DMG changed the rules so the US had an isolated series, unlike any other nations series, or any recognized “world” rules that every other national series has. They changed the class naming so it also was unlike any of the recognized class names that seem to be universal in motorcycle road racing. Daytona Sportbike? I’ve been asked countless times by casual and first-time fans “what is the displacement of the bikes?” “How come they don’t use the same system/structure that every other country does?” Because this is what happens when you let nascar people run the show, thinking that success there will automatically transfer to 2-wheel road racing. NOW, now(!) they are just realizing they need to align the American series with the other successful, full-grids, OEM-participating national series & rules/class names? Yeah, after you run it into the ground, and damage it so much that it’ll take years for fans to come back, OEMs to return, and have more than 6 races a year. Insulting the factories, basically telling them “we don’t need you, get lost…”, what a way to foster good relations and decent participation. I’ve been personally writing about what changes need to be made so it doesn’t falter completely, for years. It’ll take a lot to mitigate the damages done by the myopic, closed minded attitude of superiority DMG exhibited. It’s not nascar, never will be. It’s quite obvious with the current state of the American series. Oh, blame the economy, a convenient scape-goat. OK, then why do other countries have full grids, great sponsorship, OEMs, full stands and an understandable and easily implemented rules package with class names that anyone can recognize? Because they don’t act like they know everything, or go their own way in spite of experts telling them it’s not working. You can see it’s not working! When you have talented riders going off to other series, teams bailing because the race schedule and TV broadcasts are in the toilet, and OEMs saying we won’t come back until there’s competent leadership, how long does it take to pull your head out of the Daytona sand? Of course, this is great news, and it can lead to a return to the former respect that the American series once had. The DMG we-know-everything-so-trust-us debacle we have endured for much too long will finally be over. When the series can get away from their nascar-mentality, that’s when the series can start to heal itself and we can regain the respect that has been lost. In other countries, the DMG series is a complete laughing stock…I know from conversations I have with friends who live in European countries, Japan, Australia, South Africa, South America, etc. “What the hell are those clowns doing to your American series?” is the jist of what I hear and have to try and explain. Now I can point to this article and say “see, they finally pulled their heads out of their collective bums!”

  • Old MOron

    I watched all the races live, and it was a fantastic Sunday. Sure, the required bike swap seemed artificial, and it ruined the race for the top of the podium, but it was still a great race. Lots of passing, crashing, and bike pushing. How much more poignant can you get than Dovi, and Norrodin in Moto 3, pushing their bikes across the finish line?

    I cheered when Miller passed Lorenzo, only to be deflated when Miller subsequently hit the deck. Maybe Lorenzo was too much of a juicy target to resist, and Miller over cooked it in the heat of the moment.

    Poor Dovi. Poor, poor Dovi. He got a little gift when the Maniac ran Vale and himself wide, but boy did he get a cruel twist of fate in T13.

    This weekend had it all: elation and frustration, fortune, fearlessness, and foolishness, schadenfreude and pathos, and a new, 17 year-old star from Malaysia.

    • Bruce Allen

      Well said. It did not escape my notice that the Malaysian kid won the Moto3 race, nor that his compatriot is have a great start to his 2016 Moto2 season. And two riders pushing their bikes across the finish line may form the lasting memory from Argentina 2016.

  • spiff

    What a mess for Michelin.

    • Old MOron

      Yesterday I read that some riders feel that there was/is nothing wrong with the Michelins. They say the problem is not Michelin’s. It’s Ducati’s.

      Every competing manufacturer has to design its bike to work with the available tires. Ducati overbuilt their engine. If THEY are having trouble with the tires, then THEY should dial back their engine. Race direction shouldn’t force all riders into a pit stop. Ducati should deal with their bike.

      That is the basic reasoning.

      On the one hand, it seems like a fair point. All the OEM’s have designed their bikes to work with the available tires. Ducati just didn’t get it right. On the other hand, it’s a self-serving argument from Ducati’s competitors. I’m curious what you and the other MOrons think.

      • Gruf Rude

        The bikes are developed over the winter before the tires become available and tires are re-formulated on a regular basis during the season. Michelin missed the mark, just as Bridgestone did at Phillip Island a couple of years ago. Rossi and others figured they could run the whole race on the Michelins, but watching the junk fly off the de-laminated tire, I don’t think I’d want to be anywhere near or behind a bike with that problem during a race.

        • Old MOron

          Well, the bikes and tires are developed concurrently over the winter. Someone made an interesting point that the bikes and tires were developed using the factory software rather than the standard software. The teams are having trouble now because the factory software was much better at preserving tires. But you make an excellent point that the tires are reformulated during the season.

          You bring up another point, being behind a Ducati when the rear tire delaminates. What about that camera hanging off Marquez’s bike in the first half of the race? Was that a risk to other riders, especially Rossi who was right behind him? Should Marquez have been black flagged for (unintentionally and through no fault of his own) causing a hazard?

          • BDan75

            Seems to me that the energy involved in a (potentially) loose digital camera would be orders of magnitude lower than heavy chunks of rubber and steel being flung off a wheel at deity-knows-what rotational speed…

          • Old MOron

            I agree, and so did Race Direction 🙂
            But what if a rider were to take a camera in the face shield while entering a turn at 100 mph? Seems like a slim chance of that happening. How slim is slim enough to ignore? I’m not saying I would’ve black flagged Marquez. I’m glad I have the luxury of wondering out loud after the fact!

          • Gruf Rude

            I wondered about that also, but apparently the camera was not heavy enough to strain its cabling.
            Iannone deserved another ding for his maniac riding at the beginning of the race; the guy needs to learn self-control, but his unapologetic attitude doesn’t bode well.

          • Old MOron

            I agree, darnit. And I like Iannone, too.

          • Gruf Rude

            I’m not sure that Ducati is going to continue to like him if he keeps throwing away valuable manufacturer’s points. Easy to see him dumped for someone like Lorenzo if he doesn’t start producing positive results.

          • Bruce Allen

            And David Emmett suggesting that Suzuki is courting Dovi.

          • Old MOron

            I wonder if that’s a double-edged sword for Dovi. It cuts favorably because it’s always nice to have a factory offer. It also cuts painfully because it might mean Suzuki thinks his current contract won’t be renewed.

          • Old MOron

            Someone else suggested that Gigi has to take credit for creating the environment in the garage that one of the Andreas is about to be replaced by Lorenzo. That’s a lot of pressure. One the one hand, professional riders are supposed to handle pressure. On the other hand, pressure is pressure, and something has to give.

          • Bruce Allen

            I’m thinking Redding’s incident–involving the heaviest rider on the grid with the most grunt–might have been a one-off. It’s been surprising how well the medium rears have held up during races, very little late-race degradation, lots of riders logging very fast laps late in the day. Lorenzo said the softer rear helped him win in Qatar, while the opposite appeared true for Rossi, who went with the harder option. Michelin and the riders will figure all of this out this year. Business as usual, in my opinion.

      • Starmag

        They should be able to handle any bike in that class. It’s a tough spot they are in. Starting fresh, catering to hyper sensitive nit pickers like Dorna and the riders with 200mph+ speeds with ever increasing power. But hey, they asked for the job. The tread separation better be treated as unacceptable. I’m sure a company like Michelin will get it together, hopefully before someone gets really hurt or worse.

        • Old MOron

          Yeah, I think you’re right. And if they developed the bikes and tires using the more sophisticated software rather than the standard software, that seems like a colossal error in the process. I almost can’t believe that’s what happened.

          • Starmag

            Didn’t Ducati last year have the software closest to this years? If so, that doesn’t seem like the greatest of excuses for Michelin.

      • Mahatma

        Shouldn’t pitting be optional,and for those with degraded tires?That way they can choose between dialing back the engine to preserve them,or pit.Didn’t see the race,but that sounded proper artificial:(

        • Gruf Rude

          MotoGP is sprint racing; the tire supplier needs to provide a tire that can handle 25 laps under any of the bikes without delaminating. ‘Degrading’ is par for the course and all the riders/teams have to work with that, but catastrophic delamination is completely unacceptable.

        • Bruce Allen

          By the time the final rules had been issued, Race Direction was utterly exhausted, having run out of ideas, options and the energy to translate everything into English. Again, it would have been helpful to know how many laps were on Redding’s tire before it came unglued.

  • Starmag

    Wow, that was quite a race. As a supporter of underdogs Ducati and Suzuki it was really last minute disappointing, however they now KNOW they can run at the front instead of just THINKING they can. Soon enough we’ll see the aliens displaced which will make it much more interesting for the likes of me.

  • Starmag

    I’m thinking that returning to the pits in Iannone’s case was more painful than his crash.

    • Bruce Allen

      I saw a comment suggesting he should have helped Dovi push the bike across the line, which would have been a nice gesture. He may have had his bell rung, and was not thinking clearly. Obviously, he was not thinking clearly when he decided to go through.

      • Old MOron

        That would’ve been a decent gesture, but now that I think about it, it’s probably forbidden. I’ve been looking at the FIM Grand Prix regulations, downloadable here:
        And I can’t find language expressly forbidding such a thing.

        But it does say in article 1.21 paragraph 4
        “Any repairs or adjustments along the race track must be made by the rider working alone with absolutely no outside assistance. The marshals may assist the rider to the extent of helping him to lift the machine and holding it whilst any repairs or adjustments are made. The marshal may then assist him to re-start the machine.”

        And article 1.21 paragraph 10
        “Riders are not allowed to transport another person on their machine or to be transported by another rider on his machine (exception: Another rider or by another rider after the chequered flag or red flag).

        So it seems they don’t want a rider receiving outside assistance, and they don’t want two riders involved with one bike.

        I suppose Iannone could’ve pushed Dovi to the finish line, then claimed he was only trying to help him start the bike. But paragraph 4 says a “marshal” may assist a rider to start his bike. Any other outside help is probably forbidden.

  • Gruf Rude

    Actually, both Ducatis got past Rossi, relegating him to fourth, after which Ionnone pulled his bone-head move and gifted Rossi with the second step on the podium . . .

    • Bruce Allen

      Right on, my bad. The article was running long, and I failed to point this out. Thanks for reminding me.

  • JMDonald

    My head is hurting.

  • john burns

    hot as the hinges of hell is nice, but Fustercluck is a better name for a German tire don’t you think?

    • Bruce Allen

      Google fustercluck and learn about the tunnel fiasco in Seattle. I stole the term, just like I steal everything else.

  • Tod Rafferty

    Understand the tire issue, but why did the announcers keep calling it a “flag to flag” race when it was a flag-to-pit-to-another-bike-to-flag race? Just askin’.

    • Gruf Rude

      I am probably wrong, but my guess is they borrowed the phrase from the wet/dry races, where the bikes race the full distance regardless of weather (flag-to-flag) but can return to the pits to change bikes depending on the need for wet or dry tires.

  • schizuki

    If I attended MotoGP race-watching parties, I’d start a “What lap will Cal Crashlow bin it?” pool every week.

    And on a totally unrelated note, I’ve taken to switching to the Spanish language feed. The wife is a Spanish teacher and she relays the much-more-interesting commentary from the Spanish announcers. The Brits are useless. Besides, it tickles me when a rider crashes and the female announcer (who knows her stuff) says things like, “Oh, no, no, nooooo! Dios mio! Pobre Lorenzo! Que lastima!”

    If you hables the Espanol, check it out.

    • john burns

      the only thing worse than the GP guys are the World Superbike ones, just a constant stream of verbal inanity. How I would love to hear engines instead.

      • BDan75

        You can turn off the commentary on MotoGP, but you’re still stuck with engine noise that sounds like a sewing machine 90% of the time. Too bad there’s no way to capture what it sounds like to actually be there!