Cal Crutchlow took his third career victory in an Argentine Grand Prix that will do down as one of the most chaotic races in MotoGP history. The Briton emerged victorious after a race which started in farcical scenes following a delay and ended amid huge controversy as fierce rivals Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi came to blows.
Pre-race rain created confusion among the riders with tyre choice likely to prove critical. Although a wet race was declared, polesitter Jack Miller opted to start on slick tyres and with minutes to go before the scheduled start, the rest of the field gradually came around to his way of thinking, vacating the grid to take up their spare bikes in pit-lane. With virtually the entire field in the pits, race direction delayed the start on safety grounds.
What followed was pure farce as Miller and Pramac, understandably, voiced their displeasure at seeing their inspired tyre choice gaining them no advantage at all. After an impromptu meeting among team managers, a bizarre decision was taken to reset the field in grid order, only with Miller starting several rows ahead of the rest of the field.
The madness wasn’t done there as Marc Marquez stalled his bike while pulling into position for the eventual race start. Conveniently, the world champion had plenty of empty grid space ahead to restart his machine but after riding backwards down the main straight to retake his position, Marc was soon handed a ride through penalty.
Once the race finally got underway, Miller predictably grabbed the holeshot although he was quickly joined in a four-man breakaway by Alex Rins, Johann Zarco and Crutchlow. Rins threatened a maiden win, taking the lead briefly on lap sixteen, but ultimately it would boil down to a straight fight between Crutchlow and Zarco following a mistake from Miller on lap eighteen.
In the end, Honda power made the difference with Crutchlow slipstreaming past Zarco on the penultimate lap to claim victory, and with it the championship lead, while the Tech 3 rider was forced to settle for second. Rins took his maiden rostrum in third with Miller a frustrated fourth, still no doubt feeling a sense of injustice after his pre-race tyre call. All hell would break loose behind though.
After his ride-through penalty relegated him to nineteenth, Marquez embarked on a thrilling charge through the field, a charge which almost wiped out Aleix Espargaro on lap ten when the pair touched at turn thirteen. Despite being forced to drop a spit as a result of the collision, Marc would eventually climb to seventh behind Valentino Rossi when another aggressive move at turn thirteen knocked the Yamaha rider out of the race. Marquez took the chequered flag in fifth, but a 30-second penalty dropped him all the way back to eighteenth, one place ahead of an irate Rossi.
Maverick Vinales was thus promoted to fifth on the sister Movistar Yamaha with Andrea Dovizioso sixth, just ahead of Tito Rabat and Andrea Iannone. Hafizh Syahrin was an excellent ninth while Danilo Petrucci completed the top ten of a remarkable race.
2018 Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina: (Result)
|1||35. Cal Crutchlow||Honda||LCR Honda Castrol||40:36.342||25|
|2||5. Johann Zarco||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+0.251||20|
|3||42. Alex Rins||Suzuki||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||+2.501||16|
|4||43. Jack Miller||Ducati||Alma Pramac Racing||+4.390||13|
|5||25. Maverick Vinales||Yamaha||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||+14.941||11|
|6||4. Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati||Ducati Team||+22.533||10|
|7||53. Tito Rabat||Ducati||Reale Avintia Racing||+23.026||9|
|8||29. Andrea Iannone||Suzuki||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||+23.921||8|
|9||55. Hafizh Syahrin||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+24.311||7|
|10||9. Danilo Petrucci||Ducati||Alma Pramac Racing||+26.003||6|
|11||44. Pol Espargaro||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+31.022||5|
|12||45. Scott Redding||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+31.891||4|
|13||30. Takaaki Nakagami||Honda||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||+32.452||3|
|14||21. Franco Morbidelli||Honda||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||+42.061||2|
|15||99. Jorge Lorenzo||Ducati||Ducati Team||+42.274||1|
|16||19. Alvaro Bautista||Ducati||Angel Nieto Team||+42.625|
|17||12. Thomas Luthi||Honda||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||+43.350|
|18||93. Marc Marquez||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+43.860|
|19||46. Valentino Rossi||Yamaha||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||+52.082|
|20||17. Karel Abraham||Ducati||Angel Nieto Team||+1:03.944|
|21||10. Xavier Simeon||Ducati||Reale Avintia Racing||+1:10.144|
|NC||38. Bradley Smith||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+7 Laps|
|NC||41. Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+11 Laps|
|NC||26. Dani Pedrosa||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+24 Laps|