Husqvarna Motorcycles again fills the role of protagonist in the opening stages of 2023 MotoGP™ by challenging for top points and places in both Moto3 and Moto2 at a busy and wet Gran Premio Michelin de la Republica Argentina.
Round two of twenty-one delivered MotoGP directly from the sunshine of Portimao and the western tip of Europe to the confines of a sweltering and stormy Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina. The LIQUI MOLY Husqvarna Intact GP team and the rest of the paddock had travelled across the ocean and into South America for what was the eighth visit to Termas since the site first appeared as a Grand Prix venue in 2014.
Based near San Miguel de Tucuman in the north of the country, Termas has been an annual mecca for the passionate motorcycle racing fans in the country. The 4.8km track features fourteen corners and a flat, fast layout with a long principal straight. The course holds good memories for Ayumu Sasaki: the Japanese star recorded his first podium finish with the FR 250 GP there last year – the first of nine top three results in the 2022 season – so Husqvarna Motorcycles headed to the circuit with good expectations. Especially after Sasaki had taken Pole Position the previous Saturday and was fighting for the win at Portimao.
On Saturday Sasaki was again the reference. He attacked the Argentine asphalt to record his second Tissot Pole in a row by over half a second from the next nearest rider. The Japanese cut a bright figure in his Husqvarna Motorcycles white and through the dark rain and slippery conditions of the 18-lap race come Sunday morning. Sasaki was again immensely competitive but was caught out exiting Turn 13 just past mid-race distance. He had been running in 2nd place at the time and the bike was too damaged to re-join the fray.
Collin Veijer was discovering Termas for the very first time. The Dutch youngster secured 17th on the grid, which meant a sixth row start. From that launch he did his best in the rain and classified 22nd.
Ayumu Sasaki: “Disappointing. It was our first wet race and I started calmly. I knew I had a great feeling with the bike and the set-up was very good so I began to push a little bit. I collided with someone and it was racing accident but they gave me a penalty and I had to let that rider past. So slowed down and then overtook him once more and started to find my rhythm again. Maybe I was rushing a bit too much and it caused the crash. I’m disappointed with myself. It was my mistake. The positive thing is that we had great speed in both wet and dry conditions. Our results don’t show how fast we are at the moment. Now we just need to be more focused, and we go again in the USA.”
Collin Veijer: “Not the best race. I didn’t get the best feeling in the rain. I needed to push more but I didn’t have the confidence. It was hard to make a good job. In the dry we made a good step this weekend so we will take this experience to the next GP.”
Darryn Binder was closing on the top five for Husqvarna Motorcycles Moto2 debut in Portugal seven days previously and the exciting South African was again buzzing through the class in Argentina. In just his second outing in the division Binder was half a second away from the Pole Position time on Saturday and eventually qualified 11th. A good start placed Binder in the tussle for first five places and as the rainy conditions in Termas de Rio Honda continued to create tricky grip limits. Binder kept strong and steady and recorded his first points with 6th.
Lukas Tulovic did not make the trip to Argentina. The German was struggling with the right wrist that caused him to attempt - but then withdraw - from the Grand Prix in Portugal. The team are hopeful Tulovic will be able to race at round three in a fortnight.
Darryn Binder: “The second race of the year and the first time riding the bike in full wet conditions. Going to the grid I felt pretty confident; the bike was giving me good feedback and I felt it from the sighting lap. I had a good start and found myself up to 4th at one stage. I just didn’t have the same pace as the guys going for the podium. I’m still learning and find out about the limits and I was nervous to go too hard and make a mistake. I kept my own rhythm and tried my best to attack for 5th on the last lap but couldn’t pull it off. I’m happy with the full weekend and the extra experience. Step-by-step we are coming.”
The Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas means a relatively ‘short’ trip to North America and to MotoGP’s adopted home of COTA, near Austin, Texas. Round three takes place from 14th-16th of April.
Results Moto3 Gran Premio Michelin de la Republica Argentina
1. Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN) Honda 35:18.099. 2. Diogo Moreira (BRA) KTM +4.571. 3. Andrea Migno (ITA) KTM +4.699. 22. Collin Veijer (NED) Husqvarna +55.636. DNF. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna
World championship standings Moto3
1. Daniel Holgado (ESP) KTM, 38 points. 2. Diogo Moreira (BRA) KTM, 36. 3. Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN) Honda, 27. 12. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna, 10. 19. Collin Veijer (NED) Husqvarna, 4.
Results Moto2 Gran Premio Michelin de la Republica Argentina
1. Tony Arbolino (ITA) 26:.26.606. 2. Alonso Lopez (ESP) +0.663. 3. Jake Dixon (GBR) +1.961. 6. Darryn Binder (RSA) Husqvarna +12.274
World championship standings Moto2
1. Tony Arbolino (ITA), 41 points. 2. Aron Canet (ESP), 33. 3. Pedro Acosta (ESP), 29. 12. Darryn Binder (RSA) Husqvarna, 10.