MotoGP 2023
Round 2

Mir Leads The Honda Charge In Argentina

ar Termas de Río Hondo

Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) will be his team’s lone rider at this weekend’s Argentine Grand Prix, while team-mate Marc Marquez recovers from injuries sustained in last Sunday’s Portuguese GP, the opening event of motorcycle Grand Prix racing’s 75th season.

Mir Leads The Honda Charge In Argentina

Mir started his first MotoGP campaign aboard a Honda with a promising ride in Portugal last Sunday, finishing 11th, a fraction of a second outside the top ten and just behind former team-mate Alex Rins (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V), who was also having his first MotoGP ride aboard an RC213V.

Last time out in Argentina the 25-year-old Spaniard had a great ride, finishing fourth in the 2022 Argentine GP, once again a fraction of a second behind Rins. In 2018 he took seventh place in the Honda-powered Moto2 race Termas de Río Hondo. And in 2017 he had his best-ever result at the track, winning the Moto3 race aboard a Honda NSF250RW, on his way to securing that year’s Moto3 world title for Honda.

Mir is still in the process of getting acclimatised to his RC213V. MotoGP currently allows minimal pre-season testing – only five days at two tracks – so he is constantly evolving and improving, with the aim of getting closer to the front this weekend.

Marquez had made a great start to 2023 at the Algarve International Circuit (more commonly known as Portimao), by taking a stunning pole position on Saturday, after fighting through from Q1 to Q2, and then taking a brilliant third place in MotoGP’s first-ever sprint race, staged later that day. Sprint races run for half the length of a normal Grand Prix race, with roughly half points awarded.

He made a great start in Sunday’s GP, only to fall in the early stages. He was running a hard-compound front slick which probably wasn’t up to full operating temperature when he braked for Turn Three for the third time. The tyre locked, so he released the brake, which accelerated him into the side of rivals Jorge Martin and Miguel Oliveira. Both Marquez and Oliveira fell, Marquez sustaining a break in the first metacarpal of his right hand, while Oliveira was battered and bruised, so he too will miss the Argentine GP.

Marquez had his metacarpal fracture fixed with two screws. All being well, he hopes to return to race action at the Grand Prix of the Americas, at COTA in Texas, USA, on 16 April.

Rins was satisfied with his ride to tenth at Portimao, but obviously has his heart set on getting all the way to the front with his RC213V. During the race he was only four tenths a lap slower than the race winner, even though, like Mir, he is still learning how to extract the maximum from his new machine.

The 27-year-old Spaniard has great memories of Termas de Rio Hondo, where his riding technique seems to suit the circuit layout. In 2018 he finished third in the MotoGP race, his first-ever premier-class podium. He finished third again last year. And in 2015 he finished a close second in the Moto2 race.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) opened his 2023 season with a determined ride to 12th after a difficult qualifying. The 31-year-old from Chiba came through from 18th on the grid to chase Mir past the chequered flag, running a good rhythm from the middle stages of the race to the end.

This weekend Nakagami aims to better his previous best of seventh at Termas, which he achieved in 2019.

Termas joined the MotoGP World Championship in 2014, bringing Argentina back into motorcycling’s top race series after a break of a decade and a half. The circuit is situated 1100km/680 miles northwest of the capital Buenos Aires, close to the town of Termas de Rio Hondo, a popular spa resort. Laid out by Italian designers Dromo, the clockwise circuit has a challenging mix of corners, including plenty of faster turns, which prove popular with the riders.

Marquez has won three times at the track – in 2014, 2016 and 2019 – while Briton Cal Crutchlow won the 2018 race aboard his Honda CASTROL RC213V. Honda riders were also successful at Argentina’s previous GP venue in Buenos Aires, with Mick Doohan winning the 1994 race aboard his Honda NSR500 and the 1995 and 1998 races with Repsol Honda.

Following the Argentine and Americas rounds the MotoGP paddock returns to Europe, for the Spanish GP at Jerez on April 30. The 2023 season concludes at Valencia, Spain, on 26 November.

Joan Mir
Joan Mir 36
Repsol Honda Team
A busy start to the year as we are already heading straight to the next race! For us, still in the learning stages this is a positive because we are able to get more time on the bike and immediately try out some new ideas. We had a mixed weekend in Portimao, so I am hoping everything can run without incident this weekend and I can get more miles on the bike. This is the objective, to keep building and improve our speed in both races. Last year I managed a good result in Termas, so I am interested to see what we can do this year. I also want to wish Marc all the best in his recovery, it is always better to be riding alongside him on track and have him in the garage. 

Alex Rins
Alex Rins 42
Back to Argentina where I got my first podium. I like this track a lot and I hope to be competitive in the sprint race and the main race, but I would also like to try some new parts for my bike during practice. Let’s give everything! 

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
We will keep working hard to improve our speed and try to adapt to each session. We will give our best and make another step forward this weekend. 

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