This just in from MotoGP:
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). That’s it, that’s the sentence. The South African produced a stunning performance to win the Gran Premio Michelin® de la República Argentina Tissot Sprint from P15 on the grid, slicing through early on and then hanging on ahead of a charging Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) on the final lap… by just 0.072s. Luca Marini made it a Mooney VR46 Racing Team double podium with a hard-fought P3.
It was a fast and ferocious start as Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) got a phenomenal launch to briefly lead into the first corner, but it was polesitter Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) who grabbed P1 early doors as the Italian ran wide. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) got shuffled down the pack on Lap 1, the Championship leader in P7 from the front row as Binder picked his way through the pack like a knife through butter – the South African was P4 on Lap 1 from 15th on the grid!
It was breathless. Morbidelli was the new leader halfway around Lap 1 and led until Binder got the better of him on Lap 3. The top nine raced line astern: Binder, Morbidelli, Marini, Alex Marquez, Bagnaia, Bezzecchi, Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing teammate Maverick Viñales and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) were split by 1.6s with seven laps to go.
Where do you look? Passes galore! Binder, Morbidelli and Marini became a stable top three for a few laps as a fierce battle raged 0.5s behind. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) was getting into the mix too, clinging onto the back of Martin to make it a 10-rider lead group as we entered the final five laps.
With four to go, Binder’s lead was up to 0.5s as Marini swarmed all over the back of second-placed Morbidelli. The former made a move stick at Turn 9 before we saw a little drama and Aleix Espargaro slid out unhurt, the 2022 winner looking for more on Sunday. Bezzecchi then followed teammate Marini through on Morbidelli. Moments later, the number 72 also dispatched Marini and then locked his radar on Binder, who was now 0.7s up the road.
Last lap time. The gap was down to 0.4s between Binder and Bezzecchi, with Marini 0.3s shy of his teammate’s rear wheel in P3. Binder held firm through sectors 1, 2 and 3, but Bezzecchi was eyeing up a final complex move – and he was closing. Binder defended well though and there was no way through at Termas’ famous penultimate corner for Bezzecchi, who was forced to follow the KTM home as Binder won the second-ever Tissot Sprint. From 15th on the grid! It was an unreal effort from the KTM stalwart as the Mooney VR46 duo finish a brilliant P2 and P3.
Morbidelli held onto P4 and one of his best results for some time, fending off Alex Marquez, Bagnaia and Viñales. Martin pipped Quartararo for P8 as the latter picked up the final Sprint point in P9. The points scorers were split by just 3.8s in a truly epic 12-lap dash.
After a Lap 1 crash, Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) is to be reviewed tomorrow morning before Warm Up.
The Sprint delivered. Binder delivered. Now the Grand Prix race awaits at 14:00 local time (GMT-3) on Sunday afternoon. Needless to say: don’t miss it!