The Termas de Río Hondo circuit hosts the second round of the season in a championship that is still carrying the consequences of the first weekend of the year in Portugal. A grand prix that left consequences especially in the premier class, with four casualties due to injury (Pol Espargaró, Enea Bastianini, Miguel Oliveira and Marc Márquez) and which reduced the grid to only 18 riders. Except in the case of the youngest of the Espargaró, who is still in the ICU of the Dexeus university hospital in Barcelona and is out for an indefinite period, the rest plan to skip only one race and re-enlist in the next one in the United States. Including Márquez, who without being present this weekend, is the one who was talked about the most on the opening day of the Argentine Grand Prix.
The echoes of the Portimao accident still resonate. The International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) Panel of Commissioners sanctioned Márquez with a double ‘long lap’ (long lap) to complete in Argentina, but when they saw that the pilot would skip the race due to injury, they rewrote their own sanction to meet “in the next race in which I can participate.” And before this change of criteria by the arbitration body of MotoGP Honda appealed the sanction.
The last thing that has been known about the case is that the FIM has given a kick to continue and this appeal has been referred to a higher instance, the MotoGP Court of Appeal, which should issue a verdict before the Austin race, although sources consulted by this means have reported that their sentence could still be delayed for several more weeks. In any case, Honda already announced that it would go to the end in this matter and if necessary they would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), so the mess continues to grow.
“They are getting too primed”
For the second consecutive season, Márquez will not be present at the Argentine GP. A year ago, the diplopia caused by his brutal fall in Indonesia left him out of action. He is now recovering from another injury, a fracture in the first metacarpal of the thumb of his right hand that forced him to undergo surgery last Sunday. The last two absences, together with the fact that the championship did not set foot on this circuit in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, has meant that Argentine fans have not seen Márquez in action since 2019. A race, by the way, that the one from Cervera won on the street .
Despite not being in the paddock, his name is the one that sounded the most on the first day of press conferences. And not in the mouth of his brother Álex, who limited himself to saying that “he feels quite good” from the injury and that “he is improving day by day”, but he would say nothing when asked if he planned to return to Austin: “No I’m the person to say it. He has a team manager and a reporting team.”
Far from the bombastic headlines last weekend attacking the Catalan rider, the criticism in Argentina has been redirected towards the FIM stewards. “It is difficult to understand that someone makes a mistake like that,” commented the MotoGP champion, Pecco Bagnaia, in relation to the correction of the sentence on the fly.
At that same press conference, Márquez found an unexpected ally in the figure of Jack Miller, who somehow justified the Spaniard’s mistake in the race: «When you haven’t gotten on the bike for four months, we all want to show things. Unfortunately accidents can happen in this sport and that is what happened last weekend. The Australian almost always speaks without mincing words and he demonstrated it again in Termas de Río Hondo: «When you make a mistake there have to be consequences. Some say he should miss a race or more. I do not agree. Last year there were already very serious accidents and nothing happened, but since he is Márquez, everyone has an opinion and goes with the knife against him. I’m not trying to defend you. He has made a mistake and he knows it, but they are getting too carried away.
All the noise surrounding Márquez’s sanction should be silenced when the motorcycles of the three categories start their engines on this Friday, and the second grand prix of the season gets under way with the new and spectacular sprint format.