BAT­TLE TO BE TOP GUN

Leader Mav­er­ick Viñales will come un­der at­tack at Sun­day’s Ar­gen­tinian GP

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON MO­TOGP RE­PORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

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.

‘ This week­end’s race could play into Marc Mar­quez’s hands’

Mav­er­ick is now the main man in Mar­quez’s sights

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