Brad Binder is celebrating only his third career MotoGP class victory after capitalising on an extraordinary start from 15th on the grid to leave rivals trailing in an action-packed Argentinian MotoGP Sprint Race.
With the shortened Termas de Rio Hondo encounter coming just a week after Portimao inaugurated the first-ever MotoGP Sprint Race, the Argentine edition proved similarly relentlessly entertaining from start-to-finish.
It was Binder that would emerge as the star of the show as he held off a hard-charging Marco Bezzecchi to win by just +0.072secs, with Luca Marini collecting a maiden MotoGP class podium in third place.
With the grid down to a slender, injury-depleted 18-strong line-up, Binder is unlikely to have expected a victory challenge from a grid position that few have won a full MotoGP race from, let alone one half the distance
Indeed, Binder and KTM Factory Racing team-mate Jack Miller’s hopes of a strong result in the 12-lap sprint looked to have been scuppered by their respective 15th and 14th starting positions in qualifying.
However, it was a deficit Binder needed only moments to negate at the lights as a firm lunge at the opening turn paved the way for him to run fifth by Turn 4.
Up at the front, first-time pole sitter Alex Marquez didn’t let the occasion get to him by getting away cleanly and coolly assuming the lead on the exit of Turn 1 at the expense of a hole-shot winning but apex-missing Franco Morbidelli.
However, the Italian - riding the crest of a confidence wave this weekend in what has been his most competitive MotoGP outing since the early stages of the 2021 season - got his man before the end of the opening lap, via a bit of close jostling through the more undulating sections.
Putting Morbidelli in the lead of a MotoGP race for the first time since Valencia 2020, the Italian held firm initially but he’d have no answer to a formidable Binder on lap three as he carried his unstoppable momentum all the way to first position on lap three.
Steadily putting air between himself and Morbidelli over the ensuing laps, with three laps to go Binder held a +1.0s advantage over Bezzecchi, the VR46 Ducati rider - together with team-mate Marini - having dragged Morbidelli from the provisional podium.
Bezzechi quickly got to work reeling Binder in, but despite coming into the twelfth and final lap with the KTM almost in reach, the sophomore rider couldn’t find a gap to attempt a pass.
It left Binder to take the spoils for his third victory in the MotoGP class, joining his shock maiden success in only his second premier class start in 2020 at Brno, plus his ballsy victory in a wet Austrian MotoGP in 2021 on his slick-shod KTM.
While the runner-up spot for Bezzecchi marked his second MotoGP podium of the week, third place for his team-mate Marini represented a long-awaited first trip to the rostrum for Valentino Rossi’s brother.
Morbidelli resisted the clamouring attentions of more than one Ducati to cling onto fourth, his best MotoGP finish since the 2021 Spanish MotoGP, with pole sitter Marquez settling for fifth.
Championship leader Pecco Bagnaia, meanwhile, found himself - perhaps unwillingly - in the thick of the action, the Italian no doubt adopting a more cautious approach en route to sixth in the wake of team-mate Enea Bastianini’s injury and absence.
Having begun the weekend as favourites for victory, Aprilia’s Saturday quickly unravelled, with Aleix Espargaro crashing out with four laps remaining, while Maverick Vinales could only collect three points for seventh.
He wasn’t the only top tip for glory to find themselves chasing the pace in race trim, with Jorge Martin taking eighth and Fabio Quartararo again anonymous in ninth.
Only 16 of the 18 starters made it to the flag with Joan Mir crashing out on lap one for the second Sprint Race in succession.
|Gran Premio Michelin® de la República Argentina MotoGP | Termas de Rio Hondo|
|SPRINT Race Results | Round 2 / 21 | Race 3 / 42|
|1||Brad Binder||RSA||KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||12 Laps|
|2||Marco Bezzecchi||ITA||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||+0.072|
|3||Luca Marini||ITA||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||+0.877|
|4||Franco Morbidelli||ITA||Monster Yamaha Racing||Yamaha M1||+2.354|
|5||Alex Marquez||ESP||Gresini Racing||Ducati GP22||+2.462|
|6||Pecco Bagnaia||ITA||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||+2.537|
|7||Maverick Vinales||ESP||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+2.643|
|8||Jorge Martin||ESP||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||+3.754|
|9||Fabio Quartararo||FRA||Monster Yamaha Racing||Yamaha M1||+3.856|
|10||Jack Miller||AUS||KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||+5.143|
|11||Takaaki Nakagami||JPN||LCR||Honda RC213V||+5.574|
|12||Fabio di Giannantonio||ITA||Gresini Racing||Ducati GP22||+6.965|
|13||Johann Zarco||FRA||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||+7.568|
|14||Raul Fernandez||ESP||RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+7.725|
|15||Alex RIns||ESP||LCR||Honda RC213V||+8.887|
|16||Augusto Fernandez||ESP||GasGas Factory Tech 3||KTM RC16||+9.040|
|DNF||Aleix Espargaro||ESP||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP|
|DNF||Joan Mir||ESP||HRC Repsol||Honda RC213V|