Ahead of track action for the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina, it was time to talk – with Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) joined in the pre-event Press Conference by reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) for a few words before the lights go out.
Dovizioso was first to speak, debriefing Qatar before talking Termas – and the Italian pointed out three elements that will make this weekend unpredictable.
“Now we have a few races where we struggled last year, so it will be important to see our level and that of our competitors. My relationship with this track is strange. The first year was really bad, then really good…it was difficult, but I think our bike is better than last year and I think we can be competitive. But the weather is a question, and the tyres and the asphalt…there are a lot of new things.”
The tyres – with some additions to the allocation making it four front and four rear options – were a key talking point. As was the resurfacing, with part of the track now sporting brand new tarmac… and if that wasn’t enough, the weather forecast also differs from sun on Thursday to much more changeable over the weekend.
Reiterating Dovizioso’s point, Marquez also mentioned the unpredictability surrounding the on-track action this weekend. “There are many questions about this weekend and the weather is unstable.” But, for the number 93, there are a lot of positives upon arrival at the venue. “We arrive in Argentina in a different way this year; last year we arrived with some doubts. We’ll see the level of our competitors, but it’s a circuit where normally I’m competitive and it fits my riding style.”
That’s also true of Valentino Rossi, with the ‘Doctor’ coming home second in a Movistar Yamaha 1-2 last season – and on the top step in 2015. “On paper here we’re competitive,” the ‘Doctor’ acknowledges. Now we have to check the conditions, and the new asphalt… a key thing is how the tyres work on this asphalt.”
Fellow Italian Danilo Petrucci was also struggling to predict what he and his Ducati can do in terms of performance this weekend. “It’s a track that I like but we’ll have to see – and the new asphalt, the weather isn’t clear…I can’t say what we’ll be able to do here.”
But Brit Cal Crutchlow, another rider who enjoys the circuit, pointed out there are a host of riders who can fight for the podium this weekend – despite the challenges of the event. “A lot of guys who can be competitive – I’d say there are maybe 10 riders who can get on the podium this weekend.”
One of those riders will surely be Johann Zarco, whose aim is to finish on the rostrum after a disappointing end to the Qatar race. “Since the first time we came here in 2014, I’ve liked this track. I won in 2015 and 2016, and then took fifth last year.” The Frenchman hopes his extra experience will help his chances of a podium finish. “Now with more experience I hope to manage tyre choice well and finish on the podium.”
If MotoGP™ wasn’t exciting enough, throwing 10 riders into the podium fight and mixing it with new asphalt, tyre compounds and the changeable skies make it a weekend you simply can’t miss.
The action gets underway at 10:55 (GMT -3) for the first MotoGP Free Practice. Then, you can catch FP2 at 15:05 (GMT -3) later in the day.