There are things to be cheerful about after the Argentine GP. Not the confusion on the start, not the short-changing of Jack Miller, not Marc Marquez ignoring instructions from the IRTA official on the grid or his riding, not Valentino Rossi’s opportunistic escalation of the situation, not Aaron Canet getting away with riding through an opponent’s front wheel in FP1, not the distortions of the truth and insults to readers’ intelligence in the Repsol Honda and Estrella Galicia teams’ subsequent press releases. The link there, by the way, is Emilio Alzamora who models his management style on Vladimir Putin but without the personal charm.
First and foremost, Cal Crutchlow was brilliant all weekend. He’s always gone well on the Rio de Termas track and the Honda seems significantly improved. When Cal, Zarco, Rins and Miller broke away it was the Briton who played his cards best; no, he played them perfectly and is the first Brit to lead the championship since Barry Sheene in 1979. There is no reason why he shouldn’t be just as quick at Austin, in fact there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be just as fast everywhere.
I didn’t include Johan Zarco’s move on the perennially unlucky Dani Pedrosa in my opening list for one good reason. Yes, it was a harsh pass and it put Dani on the wet stuff but it was Dani who then cracked the throttle open and launched himself over the bars. No-one said motorcycle racing was fair. Johann had not had an enjoyable weekend up until race time but he too played his cards cleverly and resisted the temptation to try a hail-Mary pass on the last lap for his first win. It’s coming, although probably not at CoTA. Kudos, too, to the other Tech 3 rider Hafizh Syahrin who finished his second MotoGP race in the top ten having started next to last. It was a mistake-free weekend, but nerves got to him in qualifying.
The winner aside, my vote for Ride of the Day goes to Alex Rins. Again he eclipsed his team mate all weekend and rode cleverly and calmly to pick up his fist MotoGP podium in his 15th MotoGP race. Suzuki have clearly got over the difficult second year of the GSX-RR and suddenly we’re all recalling what a gun Alex was in the smaller classes an that he had no pre-season testing before his debut last year and was injured for half of the season. That third place is a massive boost for Suzuki in the rider market – expect Rins to be re—signed in the near future. Contrast that with KTM’s showing over the first two races, and they have four seats to fill for next year.
Jack Miller’s bravery disguised a pretty awful weekend for Ducati, although Andrea Dovizioso’s sixth place was a decent bit of damage limitation. As for Jorge Lorenzo, the ghosts of that damp Assen tarmac continue to torment him.
In the smaller classes, note the first win for Marco Bezzechi in Moto3, another winner off the VR-46 production line, and in Moto2 the old devil himself Mattia Pasini showed what hard riding is. Hard but fair riding.