4 years ago
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The Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina saw a distinct shift in championship momentum and some riders learn a valuable lesson.
What’s clear is that even though the Honda may not be perfect, Marquez has learned a lot from his difficult 2015 season. This was highlighted at the start of the Argentina GP weekend when he was asked about the 2015 incident with Rossi in Argentina. Marquez made it clear that it was his fault and in hindsight it was a mistake not to settle for 20 points. The Argentina GP welcomed a more mature Marquez, one who was ready to think about the World Championship as an 18-race marathon, not a 25 lap sprint.
It’s easy to forget that the double MotoGP™ World Champion is only 23 years old. As such it’s no surprise he has historically been somewhat impatient and overly determined to win. His ‘win it or bin it’ style wowed crowds and drew in millions of fans, but in MotoGP™ you need consistency.
The top four riders in the premier class are usually able to finish inside the top six on even their darkest weekends, a style of racing Marquez has had to adapt to but now seems to have fully grasped. Further evidence of a more thoughtful Marquez is how he and his team approached the bike swap.
Back at the Australian GP in 2013, MotoGP™ riders were also required to change bikes mid-race. There Marquez and his crew pushed their luck to the limit, a miscalculation seeing them miss the mandatory window and the black flag brought out for Marquez as a result. No such issues occurred in Argentina, Marquez calmly entering the pits on the second lap he was able to do so. This new Marquez is perhaps even more deadly than the old one, and with one of his favourite tracks hosting round three, his rivals had better watch out.
Maverick Viñales is another young rider who took valuable knowledge away from the Argentina GP. His end to the race may have been the polar opposite of Marquez’s, but each grew as riders. Returning to the pits with his visor down, fighting back tears, Viñales was clearly upset about crashing from the race after challenging Rossi for the podium.
But he proved that he could challenge for a podium throughout the course of an entire race, and battle with the most experienced rider on the grid. His battle with Rossi brought him more experience and confidence, Viñales now certain he can achieve his goal of finishing in the top six. For many riders, battling with the more experienced men in the class is the lesson. Where did he brake? Where did he get on the gas? Where am I stronger? How can I change my line next lap? All questions that flick through a rider’s mind.
There’s few better teachers than Rossi and no doubt Viñales will have picked up at least a few tricks for the coming rounds.
Andrea Iannone has had many nicknames throughout his career. In 2010 he went by ‘The Incredible Iannhulk’ for a round, then in 2011 he became ‘Crazy Joe’. ‘Crazy Joe’ was originally given to him by his friends due to his aggressive style in the Moto2™ class. The name would eventually morph into simply ‘The Maniac’ as he entered Ducati’s factory MotoGP™ outfit. In 2015 the nickname almost didn’t seem to fit, Iannone much calmer and consistent in races. He scored top ten finishes in the first 14 races of the year and was only outside the top five on three occasions. Praise was universal for the Italian’s newfound consistency and many were expecting him to take Ducati’s first win at the Qatar GP.
But the final lap of the Argentina GP brought ‘The Maniac’ back. Ducati looked set to secure a great double podium with the factory team, Dovizioso in second with Iannone just behind. That was until Iannone tried an overly optimistic pass in the closing corners, the Ducati man leaving his braking too late and falling, taking down his teammate in the process. Race Direction subsequently awarded him a penalty point and three grid positions at the next round. This was Iannone’s fourth straight DNF, the worst period of his career.
Aggression is vital in racing, but it needs to be controlled aggression. As Ducati highlighted after the race, the MotoGP™ World Championship is more than just a rider championship, the team and manufacturers also compete for their own very prestigious honours. It will be interesting to see if Iannone changes his approach in the coming rounds.
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