Cal Crutchlow wins the action-packed Argentina MotoGP, but it's Marc Marquez who grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons...
In what can be described as one of the most bizarre MotoGP races of all time, the 2018 Argentine MotoGP is one for the history books! From the beginning to the end, there was absolute ruckus all over. In the end, though, it was LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow who won the race from Tech 3 Yamaha’s Johann Zarco. Factory Suzuki’s Alex Rins completed the top three. All the podium finishers rode a fantastic race, swapping positions among them until the very last moment. However, the main highlight of the race wasn’t the fight at the front, but the events that were unfolding at the back, especially with Marc Marquez.
The start of the Argentina Grand Prix was probably the most strange in the history of the sport. Almost all of the riders first went out on wet tyres – except for the pole-sitter, Jack Miller, whose Pramac Ducati was fitted with slicks. After the formation lap though, all the teams and riders decided to switch to slicks owing to the fact that the circuit had dried up. This meant everyone went back to the pits, except Miller. Ideally, this would’ve meant that Miller would start the race from the grid and others from the pit-lane. However, considering the fact that virtually all of the riders were starting from the pit-lane, the race officials decided to delay the start and send all back to the grid in the name of safety. However, as a penalty, all the riders were made to start from the back of the grid, while Miller would start from pole. This meant Miller got a bit of a head-start.
Before the lights went out, there was another unusual sight to be witnessed. Marquez had stalled his bike after the warm-up and was trying to jump start it in the middle of the pack, seconds before the race start! As weird as it was, Marquez did manage to get crank his bike again but made a crucial mistake soon after – instead of starting from the pit-lane, he ignored the rules and started from the grid. What happened after that was an entertaining spectacle that’ll perhaps be remembered for all the wrong reasons…
After the race finally began, Miller took full advantage of his grid position and took a hole-shot. Marquez, however, quickly caught him and took the lead. Behind the two were Dani Pedrosa, Zarco, Rins and Crutchlow. Pedrosa's race came to a disastrous end after an overzealous move from Zarco pushed him off wide and on to a wet patch. As soon as Pedrosa opened the gas, he had a major high-side and crashed out of the race. Although many were expecting to see the race-direction hand Zarco some sort of penalty, it seemed they were already busy investigating Marquez’ race start. As a result, Zarco kind of got away with the incident with Pedrosa, while Marquez was handed a ride-through-penalty, meaning he not only lost the lead but also lost 19 positions in doing so!
As soon as he joined back, though, Marquez was the fastest man on the track and quickly moved up the order. However, in his attempt to make up for the lost positions, Marquez went a bit overboard as he was involved in a clash with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro. This incident meant that he again came under race direction’s scrutiny and was asked to drop back by one place.
Even after receiving a ride-through penalty and being stuck behind other riders, Marquez was nearly 2 seconds faster than anyone else. As a consequence, he was quickly gaining positions again. In just a couple of laps, he was back in top-ten and soon chased down Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso in eight. After passing Dovizioso, next up was Valentino Rossi, and that’s where it all went awry for Marquez.
Although Marquez had the pace to simply walk by Rossi, an overzealous and miscalculated overtaking manoeuvre saw the reigning world champion clip Rossi’s bike. The Movistar Yamaha rider went wide and ended up on the grass, while Marquez went after other Yamaha rider, Maverick Vinales, who was running fifth at that moment.
Meantime, at the front, the battle for the win was intensifying between Zarco, Crutchlow and Rins, while Miller dropped back a little owing to a mistake. In the end, it was Crutchlow who snatched victory from Zarco by just 0.251s! Rins took his maiden MotoGP podium in third. Miller was fourth.
Marquez finished the race in fifth ahead of Vinales, but that wasn’t going to last long. He was given a 30-second penalty for his reckless behaviour by race officials, meaning he slipped to 18th spot. This meant Vinales moved up to fifth and Dovizioso was sixth. Tito Rabat finished seventh, ahead of Andrea Iannone and Hafizh Syahrin. Danilo Petrucci rounded out the top ten.