BATTLE TO BE TOP GUN
Leader Maverick Viñales will come under attack at Sunday’s Argentinian GP
This Sunday we will hear the bell ring for the second bout of the 2017 Motogp title fight as the battle moves from the deserts of Qatar to South America. The Argentinian race will see Marc Marquez look to undo the damage done by Yamaha new-boy Maverick Viñales to his title defence during the opening race of the season.
Viñales got this year’s title race off to the perfect start on his first outing on the M1 by taking a stunning victory under the floodlights in Losail, leaving Marquez, struggling with his Repsol Honda finishing a distant fourth.
But this weekend’s race and the following round at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas two weeks later, will play into Marquez’s hands. The two tracks should also suit the strong points of his Repsol Honda.
In Motogp’s three trips to the Argentinian track, Marquez has taken two wins so far, missing out on making it three out of three after a collision with Valentino Rossi in 2015 left him in the gravel in the closing stages of the race.
And with a strong win last year in the rain-struck flag-to-flag race, he’ll be out to make amends for Qatar and to get his hopes of retaining the title back on track somewhere that’s a lot more flowing than the stop-start Losail that penalises the 2017 Honda and its acceleration woes.
However, while Marquez might be out to make amends for the opening round of the season, his main title rival Viñales has his own demons to bury after last year’s race at the Termas circuit. He had a freak crash and it denied him his first chance at a premier-class podium finish. A wet patch on the track that claimed a number of highprofile victims saw Viñales slide out of contention after he’d worked his way through to third. So he’ll be out to prove that the crash – one of only four in his entire 2016 season – was just bad luck and less to do with him folding under pressure.
However, while the duo will undoubtedly be out to do battle, there could well be a fly in the ointment – a yellow and blue-coloured fly!
Enjoying a decent record of his own at the Termas circuit, Valentino Rossi will be itching to get into the battle for the top spot as well. Unable – or unwilling – to lock horns with his new team-mate in Qatar, he too will be out to see how he deals with pressure.
So it looks unlikely that the extremely talented 22-year-old, in only his second race on the Yamaha, will get things his own way. It’s shaping up to be a fascinating season.
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