Bezzecchi claims maiden MotoGP win for Rossi’s team in rain-lashed Argentina

Italian rider Bezzecchi finished ahead of Frenchman Johann Zarco with Alex Marquez, who started on pole position, rounding out an all-Ducati podium.

Ducati Italian rider Marco Bezzecchi celebrates his first win, on the podium of the Argentina Grand Prix MotoGP race, at Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, on 2 April 2023. Picture: JUAN MABROMATA/AFP

TERMAS DE RÍO HONDO – Marco Bezzecchi claimed a maiden MotoGP win at the rain-lashed Argentina Grand Prix on Sunday, also delivering a first victory for a Ducati team owned by motorcycling legend and seven-time elite class champion Valentino Rossi.

Italian rider Bezzecchi finished ahead of Frenchman Johann Zarco with Alex Marquez, who started on pole position, rounding out an all-Ducati podium.

“Normally I’m not very good when it rains, but today the sensations were incredible,” said the Italian.

Bezzecchi, 24, also took a nine-point lead in the overall standings after world champion Francesco Bagnaia, the winner of last weekend’s season-opener in Portugal, crashed off the circuit on lap 17 of the 25-lap race.

He was running in second place at the time before recovering to finish in 16th. However, such a lowly position meant he leaves Argentina without a point.

“This kind of crash is difficult to explain, I was in the same position, I had the same speed, the same angle as the previous lap and I crashed. I was maybe on the limit, I was fighting for the podium,” said Bagnaia.

Bezzecchi had started in second place on the grid but swept past Marquez on the opening lap and was rarely troubled to take the chequered flag by 4.085sec.

South African KTM rider Brad Binder, who won the sprint race on Saturday after starting from 15th place on the grid, was 17th and last on Sunday after a fall on the opening lap.

Zarco who had started from sixth on the grid said he was “quite satisfied” with his performance which moved him up to third in the standings, 15 points behind Bezzecchi.

“This is a circuit where we have good grip in the wet,” said Zarco.

The top 10 on Sunday was rounded out by Franco Morbidelli, Jorge Martin, Jack Miller, 2022 world champion Fabio Quartararo, Luca Marini, Alex Rins and Fabio Di Giannantonio.

Former world champion Joan Mir missed Sunday’s race due to injuries suffered in the sprint.

“After a morning medical check, Joan Mir was declared unfit for the Argentina GP by MotoGP and circuit medical staff due to cranial and cervical trauma,” Honda said.

The Spaniard, who won the MotoGP title in 2020, crashed in the opening lap on Saturday.

During medical tests he experienced feelings of nausea and dizziness and will now return to Europe and prepare for the Grand Prix of the Americas at Austin.

Honda were already missing six-time world champion Marc Marquez, injured in the season-opener in Portugal.

Mir’s absence reduced the usual 22-rider grid on Sunday to 17 with Marquez, Enea Bastianini, Spanish veteran Pol Espargaro and Miguel Oliveira all nursing injuries from Portimao.

Sunday’s Moto2 race in Argentina was won by Tony Arbolino with Alonso Lopez and Jake Dixon filling out the podium.

Moto 3 honours went to Japan’s Tatsuki Suzuki with Diogo Moreira fending off Andrea Migno at the line for second place.

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