The days leading up to the FIM MotoGP World Championship’s visit to Argentina were hectic, to say the least. A severe delay in air freight arriving at Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo led to all of Friday’s track sessions being rescheduled or canceled. However, the cancellation allowed LCR Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami an extra day to return a negative COVID test and travel to the circuit after announcing he’d miss the race on Thursday. Honda is still without seven-time world champion Marc Márquez as he recovers from diplopia caused by his heavy crash in warm-up for March’s Indonesia Grand Prix.
A full Saturday of sessions concluded with Aleix Espargaró securing Aprilla’s maiden MotoGP pole position in qualifying over Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martín by less than two-tenths of a second. VR46's Luca Marini, Valentino Rossi’s half-brother, took the third and final spot on the front row of the grid.
The race start went the other way as Martín beat Espargaró to the first corner. He also led a majority of the race. The Ducati’s dominant straight-line speed was difficult for the Aprilia to close the gap. Though, the Aprilia was able to keep pace until an opportunity presented itself.
With eight laps to go, Espargaró was able to get past Martín on the long run to turn 5. However, the Aprilia rider missed the apex by a mile allowing Martín to retake the lead immediately. He attempted the same pass with six laps to go, resulting in the same outcome. But, the third time, with five to go, was the charm.
Aleix Espargaró was able to hold the lead and win the Argentine Grand Prix. Espargaró takes his first race victory in his 200th premier class start. This win is also Aprilia’s first premier class win. Luca Marini spent the entire race sinking through the field and finished 11th. Honda was in contention for a podium finish without Márquez until Pol Espargaró crashed the lone factory bike with 11 laps to go. Suzuki’s Álex Rins ended up standing on the podium’s last step.
Aleix Espargaró leads the World Riders’ Championship by 7 points over KTM’s Brad Binder. MotoGP will return next week at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.