It is time for MotoGP to head back to Argentina.
After an absence from the championship of 15 years we head back to Argentina for MotoGP. Things have changed quite a bit since the paddock visited the Autodromo Oscar A. Galvez.
The riders of then are the managers of now – In 1999, Emilio Alzamora, who looks after Marc Marquez, finished second in the 125 race to clinch the world title by a single point.
In 1994, Jorge Martinez – Mr ‘Aspar’ – took the last of his 37 GP wins. Look further back to the 1980’s and Sito Pons was a winner.
The Argentinian Grand Prix also has the distinction of holding first Grand Prix to take place outside of Europe when in 1961 the final event of the year was held in Buenos Aires.
This will be the 11th motorcycle Grand Prix event to be held in Argentina, but the first outside of the capital, The Termas de Rio Hondo circuit also becomes the 26th different venue to host MotoGP since the category was introduced in 2002 and the 18th different country to host a MotoGP in that timeframe.
A final fact – the only two riders who have been in the paddock long enough to have raced in Argentina before this weekend are Valentino Rossi and Ant West, both competing in 1999 as 250cc riders.
So, now to the present. We have a brand new track in the shape of the Termas De Rio Hondo. NOT Honda.
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Pictured: Dani Pedrosa gets to grips with the new track.
For the technical bit this post on Riding Fast and Flying Low is a must-read, an interview with Jarno Zaffelli who designed the track.
So what else is new?
Marc Marquez apparently has a special helmet ready for the weekend. Who knows what will happen there. Minds will flick to Japan where it was the T-shirt and not the helmet which caused all the fuss. His final round helmet with a graphic for every race was quite special though, and poked fun at his Australian disqualification.
Andrea Dovizioso claimed his Ducati podium came while he was ill, so fit and at a track new to everybody the Italian is surely one to watch this weekend.
Dovizioso’s team-mate Cal Crutchlow has had an operation since his Austin crash and will be recovering instead of racing. He is replaced by Michele Pirro, who did excellent work when sitting-in last season, amassing a pretty impressive points tally for a stand-in rider.
Also coming off the subs bench is Sebastian Porto. The Argentinian is set for a home GP ride after scoring a wild-card entry in Moto2. Porto is a seven time 250cc race winner but has not featured on the grid since 2006.
Sticking with Moto2 news, AirAsia Caterham rider Josh Herrin will not be present after breaking his collarbone in a training accident. He is not due to be replaced.
Moto3 has been dominated so far by promising young Australian Jack Miller, who became the first man from his country to achieve back-to-back wins in the lightweight class after winning both the Austin and Qatar rounds. He has really shone since landing the Red Bull KTM, but there are still plenty of Hondas around to keep it interesting at Hondo.
The Moto3 riders will kick off the race weekend action for the Gran Premio Red Bull de la República Argentina on Friday at 9am local time (GMT -3).