In his 200th start, Aleix Espargaro scored his first MotoGP victory in the Argentina Grand Prix and did so in style after leading the field to green from the pole. The victory was also the first for Aprilla Racing.
With his win, Espargaro leads the championship by seven points over Red Bull KTM Racing’s Brad Binder, who finished sixth in the Argentina GP. Espargaro beat Jorge Martin to the checkers by less than one second as the top four were separated by less than two seconds.
It was an emotional victory in front of a crowd that has not seen an Argentina Grand Prix since 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions and the field was ready to put on a show. Martin earned the holeshot with Aleix slotting into second just in front of his younger brother Pol Espargaro, who would retire from the race 11 laps from the end after crashing.
After being denied victory in 199 starts, Aleix may have felt as if the race was slipping away when he ran wide in Turn 1 and again in Turn 5 on Lap 10 of 25. Instead of settling in to protect his second-place position and scoring a solid points’ day, Espargaro hit his lines perfectly on the next trip around the track and set the fastest lap.
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With eight laps remaining, Espargaro made a pass for the lead in Turn 5, but held it only briefly as Martin crossed over and retook the top spot. The same move one lap later ended in the same result but, as the old adage goes, the third time was the charm. With four and half laps remaining, Espargaro successfully held onto the lead to become the third winner in three MotoGP rounds this year.
The race was a victory of sorts for Martin, who stopped a two-race slide of DNFs suffered in the Grand Prixs of Qatar and Indonesia. The 20 points earned for his second-place finish moved Martin into ninth in the standings.
Third-place Alex Rins and fourth-place Joan Mir made it a near-perfect day for Spaniards at the front of the pack.
Italy’s Francesco Bagnaia rounded out the top five.
In the Moto2 class, Bagnaia’s countryman Celestino Vietti scored a 1.5-second win over Thailand’s Somkiat Chantra. It was the second win of the season for Vietti and his third consecutive podium. Chantra won in Indonesia.
Americans Cameron Beaubier in 11th and Joe Roberts in 13th hope to turn their fortunes around in Round 4 when the MotoGP series heads to the Circuit of the Americas this weekend.