Maverick Vinales became the first Yamaha rider to win the opening two races of the season as he won the Grand Prix of Argentina on Sunday, continuing his brilliant start to his debut season with the factory team.
The 22-year-old led home a Yamaha one-two as Valentino Rossi continued to get the better of his tricky M1 to come home second ahead of Britain’s Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda.
Yamahas day was all the more better given that both factory Honda of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa crashed out of the race, the former while leading the way, and while Vinales moves to an unblemished 50 points this season, Marquez already finds himself 37 points behind his Spanish compatriot, with a 14-point buffer to second-placed Rossi.
Having already finished off the podium in the curtain-raising Qatar Grand Prix two weeks’ ago, Marquez faces a large deficit to his main championship rivals after suffering a peculiar crash at turn two.
Having pulled clear of Vinales, Crutchlow and Rossi, Marquez was showing signs of romping away from the rest of the pack. However, the reigning world champion made it only to the second corner of lap four where he suffered an unusual crash that took him out of the race while leading.
Flicking from left to right for the 90-degree left-hander, Marquez lost the front as soon as he touched the brakes, careering off into the gravel.
“I’m ok,” Marquez said afterwards. “I was feeling amazing on the bike and feeling really good. I don’t know why, sure I did a mistake but I don’t know why. This kind of mistake, I was feeling really good and really strong but now we must look to America.”
Marquez did make it further than Jorge Lorenzo though, the Spaniard still struggling to get to grips with his new Ducati. Yet he only had himself to blame for his swift exit at the very first corner as he ran straight into the back of Andrea Iannone’s Suzuki, taking himself out of proceedings at the earliest opportunity.
More carnage would follow, and it would once again be music to the Yamaha team’s ears. With Vinales, Crutchlow and Rossi clear, the battle for fourth saw Johan Zarco sweep past Dani Pedrosa and Danilo Petrucci, prompting an aggressive response from the former who muscled his Honda back past. But come lap 14, Pedrosa mirrored Marquez’s crash at turn two, though he was clearly carrying too much speed into the turn and lost the front as a result.
A lap later, the charging Aleix Espargaro attempted to capitalise on Andrea Dovizioso running wide at the end of the back straight, squeezed the front brake too hard and tucked the front, cannoning into the Ducati rider and taking them both out of the race.
Up front, Rossi was coming alive and he made his move on Crutchlow with seven laps remaining at the end of the back straight, hitting the apex at turn five to block any fightback from the British rider. But the gap to Vinales would prove too much for Rossi to bridge, with the Italian settling for second as he crossed the line 2.9 seconds behind his teammate.
Alvaro Bautista took a magnificent fourth position for the Aspar Ducati crew, ahead of the Tech 3 Yamaha of Zarco, his teammate Jonas Folger and the Pracmac Ducati pair of Petrucci and Britain’s Scott Redding. Jack Miller and Karol Abreham rounded out the top 10 for Marc VDS Honda and the Aspar team respectively.
14. P Espargaro