TERMAS DE RÍO HONDO: Maverick Vinales won the Grand Prix of Argentina on Sunday, extending his lead in the world championship having also triumphed in the season-opener in Qatar.
Spanish rider Vinales, on a Yamaha, inherited the lead on the fourth lap when world champion and pole-sitter Marc Marquez crashed out on his Honda, his machine careering spectacularly into the gravel at turn two with sparks flying off the tarmac.
Valentino Rossi, racing in his 350th grand prix, took second place on the second factory Yamaha ahead of Cal Crutchlow on a Honda having slipped by the Briton six laps from home.
It was a third career victory in the elite class for the 22-year-old Vinales who switched to Yamaha from Suzuki for this season.
“Marquez started very strong and when he fell I said to myself that I needed to get as many points as possible. I am happy,” said Vinales who has a perfect 50 points after two races, 14 ahead of Rossi.
Marquez was not the only three-time world champion to suffer embarrassment.
His compatriot Jorge Lorenzo crashed out on the first lap as the Spaniard’s miserable start to life as a Ducati rider continued.
He started the race on the sixth row on the grid having struggled home in a disappointing 11th place in Qatar two weeks ago.
Honda also saw their second factory rider Dani Pedrosa crash out on the same bend that had claimed Marquez except he had the meagre consolation of lasting until the 12th lap.
“I felt strong and in amazing form but I don’t know what happened. I just made a mistake,” said Marquez.
All three class winners from Qatar triumphed in Argentina with Italy’s Franco Morbidelli taking the Moto2 honours and Spain’s Joan Mir coming home again in first place in Moto3.
Morbidelli, tiding a Kalex, finished ahead of Portugal’s Miguel Oliveira and Thomas Luthi, also riding Kalex machines, both of whom benefitted from a fall suffered by Alex Marquez – the younger brother of Marc – on the last lap.
Mir, 19, riding a Honda, saw off Britain’s pole sitter John McPhee and fellow Spaniard Jorge Martin. It was a third career win for Mir. --AFP