MotoGP™: Oliveira masterclass in Mandalika rain
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) took advantage of the grip provided by his MICHELIN Power Rain tires to produce a flawless run in wet condition...
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) collected the first victory of his MotoGPTM career at Sunday’s Gran Premio Michelin® de la República Argentina, third round of the 2022 world championship. The shortened weekend in Termas de Rio Hondo saw him emerge as the 59th grand prix-winner on Michelin tires after beating Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) and Alex Rins (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR). Once again, three different riders figured on the podium to showcase the versatility of the MICHELIN Power range.
The Argentine round was marked by the fact that it took place over just two days due to a delay in the arrival of one of the equipment-carrying cargo planes, meaning riders were only able to contest two free practice sessions – on Saturday – before lining up for qualifying.
The problem failed to faze Aleix Espargaro, however, since he succeeded in scoring Aprilia’s first-ever pole position at this level, just five-thousandths of a second short of the track lap record held by Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
At lights-out the next day, the Aprilia rider relinquished the lead to Martin who was second on the grid, but immediately tucked in behind his Pramac rival as the pair took advantage of the grip provided by their hard and soft MICHELIN Power Slicks front and rear to pull away from their chasers.
Espargaro posted the fastest race lap on Lap 11 of the 25-lap race and, after an initial, failed attempt to recover top spot on Lap 18, he took control for good four laps from home before taking the win by eight-tenths of a second.
In addition to being the third different rider to have won one of the three races contested so far this season, he also notched up Aprilia’s maiden MotoGP win.
Second-placed Martin was followed over the line by Rins, which means nine different riders have now taken part in the podium celebrations since the beginning of the season.
The afternoon’s top-five was rounded out by Joan Mir (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) and Francesco Bagnaia (Lenovo Ducati Team), who were followed by Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory), Mavrick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP).
Regarding tire choices, the entire grid opted for hard and soft MICHELIN Power Slicks front and rear, a combination that delivered outstanding performance despite the hot, bumpy and dusty conditions encountered in northeastern Argentina.
Espargaro’s success has taken him to the top of the provisional championship leaderboard on 45 points, ahead of Binder (38), Enea Bastianini and Rins (36 points)
Next round: Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Austin, Texas, USA (April 8-10).