All eyes are on Leopard Racing’s Joan Mir, as the Moto3 World Championship heads to Argentina, following his victory last time out at in Qatar.
The Mallorcan rider arrives at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit this weekend leading the championship, and knows he is now the marked man of the field. This round should suit both the bike and his riding style, as the layout of the track encourages the last of the late breakers and rewards bikes with top straight line speed. Mir has only competed once before at the Argentinian venue, securing fifth position during last year’s race. Following his success from the opening round, he can be expected to feature in the fight for top honours on Sunday.
Behind him, British Talent Team’s John McPhee will be determined to go one better than his second place finish, a fortnight ago. Nobody then was expecting great things from the new team, even those who had helped bankroll the outfit were talking about success only coming later in the season. That has now all changed, and the 22-year old will now have to deal with the expectation of consistently challenging for victory. The young Scot is undoubtedly a serious talent in the making and, with such a competitive machine underneath him, has the tools to take the fight to the front on a regular basis.
However, dare to write off the rest of the Moto3 field at your peril. The more experienced Moto3 contenders such as Enea Bastianini (Estrella-Galicia Honda), Nicolo Bulega (TeamSky-VR46 KTM) and Romano Fenati (Marinelli-Honda) will all be gunning to reclaim the top step of the podium what all three believe is rightfully theirs. The latter of these will be most desperate to return to winning ways, having not claimed the chequered flag since last season’s Grand Prix of America. With ‘race rustiness’ of the first race of the season now behind them, expect this Roman triumvirate to put on a strong showing this weekend.
Finally, we must not forget Gabriel Rodrigo who is the sole Argentinian to line up on the grid – provided he is passed fit to race. The 20-year old broke his collarbone during FP1 a fortnight ago at the Losail International circuit. It has been a difficult introduction to the ‘cadet class’ for Rodrigo, having only been able to amass a lowly 31 points from last season’s championship. Still, there’s nothing like a race in front of a home crowd to inspire one onto greater things.
The Moto3 Grand-Prix of Argentina is on Sunday 9th April, 1300 local time (1700 UK time)
Eddie Hocknull @EddieHocknull