It's speed vs attrition in Argentina MotoGP

Sajith B Warrier

Bengaluru, March 26: From the desert to the Andes, the MotoGP Championship heads from the Middle East to Latin America for the second round, but it is more than simply a change of scenery.

The ArgentinaGP will be held on Sunday (March 31) at 3pm local time (11.30pm IST).

Heat is now partnered by humidity, the floodlights of Losail circuit are a distant memory and the record books see a switch around, for Termas de Rio Hondo, east of the continent's backbone of the Andes and a far cry west of the pampa, traditionally has one man setting the pace -- Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda Team. But pace, history shows, is not always the winning ingredient.

From 2014 to 2017, Marquez started from pole in Argentina, and in both 2014 and 2016 that was the first battle cry before the reigning champion took the win. But in 2015 the number 93 clashed with Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and crashed and in 2017, both he and then team-mate Dani Pedrosa both slid out of contention - Marquez from the lead.

Another crash

Last season the drama even more as Marquez' race went from disaster on the grid to failing to score after three penalties and another clash with Rossi - this one seeing the 'Doctor' hit the deck - but there was another undeniable fact amongst the drama: the Repsol Honda rider's speed.

It was unmatchable, and after a similar showing in Qatar this year to that which greeted us in 2018, that could mean the ball will once again be in his court.

Lorenzo's charge

It's not just Marquez who has shown good pace at Termas de Rio Hondo for Honda, however. The aforementioned Pedrosa took some top results and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) took two podiums even before his stunning win in the chaos of the 2018 event.

That bodes well for both him and new arrival at Repsol Honda Jorge Lorenzo, himself a podium finisher at the track previously, as the number 99 battles to improve upon a tough season opener in Qatar after a huge highside left him bruised for race day.

Yamaha power

Yamaha will also be looking to improve upon Round 1 but their record in Argentina makes for good reading.

Rossi won that 2015 event, who could forget, and team-mate Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) took victory in Argentina in 2017 as part of a triple threat of wins to begin the season. The Iwata marque will be hoping for more of that and less of the struggles they encountered last year.

Ducati dazzles

Meanwhile at Ducati, it was 25 points to begin the year in style for Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati Team) as the Italian once again outwitted Marquez at a final corner.

Last season it was a similar story in Round 1, but then it was two more difficult weekends for the Borgo Panigale factory rider. Will that remain true in 2019 and see 'DesmoDovi' racing for damage limitation before we head into the meat of the season in Europe? Or was Qatar not quite the whole picture?

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