Crutchlow wins action-packed Argentinian GP

Cal Crutchlow sealed his third MotoGP victory to wrap up a controversial weekend in Argentina across all three classes. The Brit managed the race to perfection to see off the  competition from Johann Zarco and Alex Rins, who completed the podium places.

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Cal Crutchlow win was Honda’s 750th Grand Prix victory. Image: The Checkered Flag

Despite a disappointing qualifying session, Crutchlow had been going well all weekend, and the Honda rider seems to always go well in Argentina. Crutchlow was a part of the leading group for most of the race, conserving his tyres as Zarco, Rins, and pole-sitter Jack Miller diced for the lead.

The LCR Honda rider hit the front with two laps to go, and managed to hold off pressure from Zarco to take the win.

If Crutchlow was the hero of the story, Marc Marquez was certainly the villain. The Spaniard was penalised on three occasions, including for knocking off Valentino Rossi in the final stages of the race.

The race started in controversial circumstances, as the hero of qualifying Jack Miller was the only rider to start on slicks on the drying track. However, just before the start, every other rider changed and jostled for position for their start from pit lane.

The race officials decided to delay the start of the race, and then allowed everyone to start from the grid, albeit from the fourth row back.

This decision obviously infuriated Miller, who was brave enough to chance the slicks while everyone else had stuck with the wets. His decisiveness and bravery was rewarded with nothing.

The chaos was not finished there, as Marc Marquez stalled his bike on the grid. Instead of following protocol, and starting from pit-lane, the Spaniard jump started his bike, and rode it back to his position.

This broke the rule of not riding backwards on the track, and Marquez was given a ride-through penalty, which saw him drop back to twentieth.

Dani Pedrosa crashed out on lap one, as he was forced on to the wet part of the track by Johann Zarco.

The front four soon broke away, with Miller leading from Alex Rins, Johann Zarco and Cal Crutchlow.

Marquez Rossi Crash ARG

Marc Marquez once again clashed with Valentino Rossi in Argentina, having previously come off worse in their 2015 collision. Image: Cyclenews.com

On lap nine, Marquez committed his second offence of the race. On the penultimate corner he forced his way past Aleix Espargaro when there was no gap there. Espargaro was forced off the track, and Marquez was told to drop a position by race direction.

Crutchlow made his move with eight laps to go, slipping under Zarco. Alex Rins had also ran wide, allowing the Brit to go up to second, and Zarco to follow in to third.

On lap 21 Marquez again took the spotlight, going for a gap that wasn’t there on the penultimate corner. This time the victim was Valentino Rossi, who crashed out of fifth. Marquez was hit with a 30 second penalty for “irresponsible riding”, which saw him drop out of the points to eighteenth.

This saw Maverick Vinales take fifth place, 11 seconds behind Jack Miller in fourth. Andrea Dovizioso took sixth, with Rabat, Iannone, Syahrin and Petrucci rounding out the top ten.

Jorge Lorenzo finished fifteenth after a dismal ride, and Valentino Rossi rejoined the race to finish nineteenth.

Scott Redding had a good race on the Aprilia, coming twelfth, but Bradley Smith crashed out with eight laps to go.

In the Moto3, Marcos Bezzecchi took a debut victory, with Aron Canet, the villain of FP1 coming second. John McPhee finished seventeenth. Mattia Pasini won the Moto2 race, with Danny Kent and Sam Lowes finishing twelfth and thirteenth respectively.

The next race takes place in Texas, at the Circuit of the Americas, on April 22.

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Marquez takes win in Argentina

Marc Marquez eased to his first victory of the season in an action-packed Argentinian Grand Prix. The race saw an incredible eight non-finishers, including a controversial last lap clash between the Ducati team mates.

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Source: Autosport.com

Teams were forced to make a pit-stop during the race for safety reasons, after Scott Redding’s tyre failed during FP3, and things were made even more unpredictable with a drying track littered with damp patches.

Marquez took the lead early on, and he enjoyed a earl tussle with Valentino Rossi before pitting. But the Spaniard switched bikes quicker and managed to get out of pit lane with Tito Rabat between him and Rossi. Marquez took advantage of this breathing room, arguably getting even more out of his second bike to extend the lead to 7 seconds as he took the chequered flag.

Valentino Rossi fell back, battling first with Maverick Vinales and then with both of the Ducatis. Vinales passed Rossi but crashed out on turn 1 with two laps to go. Andrea Iannone looked to have got the better of his team mate, tussling with Rossi for second position. However, Dovizioso mugged the pair of them to move in to second. But on the penultimate corner, Iannone dived for a gap that wasn’t there, lost the front end and took out his team mate, gifting Rossi second place.

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Andrea Iannone will incur a 3 place grid penalty in Texas for taking out his team mate. Source: Crash.net

Dani Pedrosa claimed third, 28 seconds behind Marquez, with Eugene Laverty coming fourth. Hector Barbera edged out Pol Espargaro for fifth, whilst Stefan Bradl and Bradley Smith rounded off the top 8.

Jorge Lorenzo was unable to follow up his victory in Qatar as he slipped off early on. He was not having a good race anyway, only seventh after Jack Miller crashed out on lap four. Scott Redding continued his unlucky weekend as his bike broke down whilst in sixth, ahead of Dani Pedrosa. Cal Crutchlow crashed out on the final lap.

Johann Zarco took the victory in Moto2, with Britain’s Sam Lowes profiting from a crash to finish second. Danny Kent missed out on the points finishing 16th. Rookie Khairul Idham Pawi won¬†the Moto3 race, becoming the first ever Malaysian Grand Prix winner.

World Cup 2014 preview – Groups E-H

In the second half of this World Cup preview, groups E-H will be analysed, as well as a few tips for the tournament overall. In this half of the draw Argentina and Germany will have the highest hopes, with France, Portugal and Belgium all looking to reach the latter stages.

Group E Image

France have arguably got themselves an easy draw again. Ecuador and Honduras proved stern competition for England in the warm up matches, however this will not be in a friendly and France have a bit more quality up front than England. Karim Benzema will be leading the line for France, and the promising Antoine Griezmann (above) will be an exciting player to watch. Without Samir Nasri and the injured Franck Ribery the French dressing room will be more together than in South Africa. Ecuador proved against England that they will be no pushovers, playing an exciting brand of football via the wings. The are well suited to South American conditions, which may put them ahead of the Alpine-based Switzerland. The Swiss have some talented players in the form of Tranquillo Barnetta, Xherdan Shaqiri, Gökhan Inler and Haris Seferovic, but they are unlikely to be utilised to their full attacking potential. As always the Swiss will be solid at the back, with Juventus full back Lichtsteiner the pick of the defenders. Honduras will be there to make up the numbers, defending for their lives to claim 0-0 draws and chopping down their opponents.

Qualifiers: France (9 points), Ecuador (4 points – on goal difference)

Group F

ImageArgentina also have a fairly straightforward path through the group stages, with their group containing Nigeria, Iran and World Cup d√©butantes Bosnia-Herzergovia. Argentina’s attack is so strong that they could afford to leave Carlos Tevez at home, whilst still boasting Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and of course Lionel Messi. They have a relatively strong defence as well, with Mascherano acting as either a defensive midfielder or a centre back and Zabaleta and Demichelis being part of a strong title winning Manchester City defence. Bosnia could prove a stern test for their opponents at this tournament. Only Germany, Netherlands and England scored more goals in qualifying than Bosnia, whose main goal threat will be Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko. They also have the impressive Roma midfielder Pjanic and Stoke’s dependable ‘keeper Asmir Begovic. Nigeria have the potential to progress, after winning the African Nations Cup. The squad is top heavy with strikers so you can expect goals at both ends when they play. Iran will be the whipping boys of this group, and will go home without scoring a goal.

Qualifiers: Argentina (9 points), Bosnia-Herzergovia (6 points)

Group G

ImageAnother contender for the ‘Group of Death’, Group G contains Germany, Ghana, Portugal and the USA. Germany would be the favourites for this group, and one of the favourites for the tournament, however they have suffered several injuries in the lead up to Brazil. Marco Reus (above), Lars and Sven Bender, Mario Gomez and Ilkay Gundogan will all miss the World Cup, whilst Neuer, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Khedira and Klose may not be fully fit for their opener against Portugal. However the quality is still there in the squad to compete, despite the inclusion of just one out and out striker, Miroslav Klose. Portuagal needed Cristiano Ronaldo to single handedly pull them through in their play-off with Sweden. Their squad is reasonably strong, containing 3 Champions League winners, as well as Manchester United’s Nani, Monaco’S Jo√£o Moutinho and Sporting’s highly rated William Carvalho. Portugal have to potential to go far in this tournament, but if they rely on Ronaldo to bring them through they may be going home rather early. Ghana should have been semi-finalists four years ago. A few of their players this time around are past their peak, such as Michael Essien and Asamoah Gyan. The Ayew brothers could prove some entertaining viewing, as they prove Ghana’s main goal threat. In truth though, Ghana aren’t the same team as they were in South Africa and will probably fall at the first hurdle. The USA have brought a young squad to Brazil, leaving out the experience of Landon Donovan. They will be there for the experience, but don’t be too surprised if they take a point off of the big boys.

Qualifiers: Germany (7 points), Portugal (7 points)

Group H

ImageTheoretically, Group H is also quite open. Belgium are hotly tipped to be amongst the contenders to win the World Cup, however this would be a step too far for this squad. Sure, they have an immensely talented squad, but do they have the experience to make the impact that everybody is expecting. Russia will also be expecting to qualify from the group, and they boast a strong spine, with Igor Akinfeev in goal, Denisov and Dzagoev in midfield and Kerzhakov up front. These players will have to perform, as the rest of squad may not be of the quality to push to the latter stages. South Korea could see qualification as a possible target. Son Heung-min had a good season in the Bundasliga, whilst Ji Dong-won, Park Chu-young, and Ki Sung-yueng all have Premier League experience. However, they may be seen as too lightweight and could ship a few goals per game. Algeria proved stubborn opponents four years ago, however they offered very little up front. Expect the same this year, with British fans noticing Spurs’ Bentaleb and ex-Rangers defender Bougherra.

Qualifiers: Belgium (7 points), Russia (7 points)

 

Knock-out Stages

Round of 16:

Brazil to beat Netherlands, Italy to beat Columbia, Spain to beat Croatia, England to beat Ivory Coast, France to beat Bosnia-Herzergovia, Germany to beat Russia, Argentina to beat Ecuador, Portugal to beat Belgium.

Quarter Finals:

Brazil to beat Italy, Spain to beat England, France to beat Germany, Argentina to beat Portugal.

Semi Finals:

Brazil to beat Spain, Argentina to beat France

Final:

Brazil to beat Argentina

Top Scorer: Neymar. A possible outsider for this could be either Antoine Greizmann or Karim Benzema.