British star Cal Crutchlow leads the MotoGP World Championship after a brilliant victory at a chaotic, action-packed 24 lap Argentina Grand Prix.
The 33-year-old Isle of Man LCR Honda rider started from 10th on the grid but was soon in the hunt for the win when race leader Marc Marquez suffered a ride through penalty after stalling his Repsol Honda on the grid.
In fact the Spaniard had one of those days when nothing went right as he was directed to give up a place when he rode into Aleix Espargaro. He was eventually given another 30 second penalty after causing Valentino Rossi to crash out near the end of the race. It meant Marquez scored no points as he finished 18th leaving Crutchlow at the top of the title race by three points from Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.
After a delayed start due to rain, all the riders bar pole setter Jack Miller on the Alma Pramac Ducati left the grid. It left the organisers to make a strange decision that left Miller on his own at the front and the rest of the grid lining up four rows behind.
Although Miller led from the start he eventually had to settle for fourth as the front three broke away when he made a couple of mistakes as the race went into the closing stages. With three laps remaining Crutchlow was down in third behind Johann Zarco on the Tech3 Yamaha and Ecstar Suzuki’s Alex Rins.
However, the Honda man left it until two laps from home to make his race winning move and then protected his lead to the chequered flag with Zarco 0.251 seconds behind as they crossed the line.
After the third MotoGP victory of his career, Crutchlow said: “It was nice to win, but it was to be expected to be honest. I came into the weekend thinking I could leave here with a chance of being first or second with Marc (Marquez) and we ended up winning.
“I was comfortable in the battle but I am not sure if the front tyre was the right one for me, I think I should have chosen the harder one, but at the start of the race I didn’t want to take too much of a risk, so went with the medium. I felt I took no risks and stayed with riders that I probably could have dropped should I have needed to.
“We have to be pleased, the team has done a fantastic job in the last two races and I think we could have fought for victory no matter which circuit it would have been this weekend. Now we go to Austin and we’ll aim for the top five and look to come out of there with strong points.
“This year I said I wanted to win some races. It’s really nice to be part of that group of riders that have been able to win these 750 races for Honda.”
Round three takes place this weekend in Austin, Texas.