It’s not too difficult to work out who’s happy and who’s sad after a perplexing weekend in wet and dry Argentina. Chief among the happy are Yamaha who put all four of their bikes in the top six. Difficult to say who’s least happy: it’s either Ducati, Honda, Suzuki or Aprilia. As Cal Crutchlow, not for the first time, saved Honda’s face by joining the factory Yams on the rostrum, I think I’ll plump for Ducati. Not only did Jorge Lorenzo tailgate Iannone at the first corner and then throw the bike back on the floor just as marshals arrived to help him, Andrea Dovizioso failed to make the expected progress through the pack and ended up getting scooped up by an over-enthusiastic Aleix Espargaro. The top Duke was a 2016 bike ridden on soft tyres by Alvaro Bautista, who charged up to the top three in the closing laps but ran out of time. So Aspar’s customer team provided the top Ducati qualifier and the top finisher. Bologna is not going to enjoy picking the bones out of that one.
Honda? Both factory bikes out at the same corner, crashing off the front and Crutchlow hampered by file-consumption worries. Strange to relate, Cal’s third place is Honda’s only rostrum in MotoGP so far this season. If things don’t change radically at CoTA, the place where the old Hockenheim’s Honda Lanes now live, it’s going to be a long, frustrating year for Marc Marquez. Despite his crash, you will be pleased but unsurprised to hear that as usual he had plenty of time for the fans gathered outside his hotel. I know this because when I wheezed back in having walked the last mile to avoid the gridlocked traffic, a wave of hyper-excited teenage girls was receding gleefully from the lobby comparing selfies.
Was anyone in MotoGP as happy? If Maverick Vinales was, he didn’t show it. When informed he was the first Yamaha rider since Wayne Rainey to with the first two races of the year, he was suitably and affectingly awestruck at being mentioned in the same breath as “an all time great.” He then said that he was going to “make a stop-and-go bike for COTA.” Colin Edwards picked his jaw off the floor and said “Good luck with that!”
Perhaps the happiest factory was KTM. Honda’s new engine and an aggressive recruitment policy means the Austrians are struggling in Moto3, but they had their first rostrum and fastest lap in Moto2 thanks to Miguel Oliveira and both their MotoGP bikes finished with points. Sure they were helped by a few falls, but most importantly they were in a dice not circulating at the back on their own. Not bad in the second race for both the Moto2 and MotoGP machines.