TERMAS DE RIO HONDO: World champion Marc Marquez stormed to a lights-to-flag Argentina MotoGP triumph on Sunday ahead of bitter rival Valentino Rossi, describing his performance as “the perfect day”.
Honda rider Marquez claimed his 45th career victory in the elite class, finishing 10 seconds ahead of Rossi on a Yamaha.
Andrea Dovizioso, who won the season-opener in Qatar, was third on a Ducati.
Marquez, chasing a sixth MotoGP world title, now leads the 2019 championship after two rounds of the 19-race series.
“Today, it was a perfect day. I pushed all the time and five laps from the end I could ease off to save the engine and the tyres,” said Marquez.
“It’s been one of the most solid weekends of my MotoGP career. On the first laps, I wanted to make the biggest difference possible, it was strategy, I attacked and I saw the gap widen.”
As Marquez was rarely threatened in Sunday’s race, the wheel-to-wheel action was being ratcheted up behind him as Rossi and Dovizioso switched places 12 times.
But 40-year-old Rossi had the last laugh, pouncing on a Dovizioso error on the last lap to take second place on the same circuit where 12 months ago he had collided with Marquez and crashed out.
“I waited and I got past him on the last lap,” said Rossi, now in his 20th season in the elite MotoGP class and who made the podium for the first time since Germany in July last year.
“It’s a great day for the team. It’s been a long time since I was on the podium.”
Australia’s Jack Miller on a Ducati-Pramac was fourth, Alex Rins of Spain on a Suzuki was fifth ahead of Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci.
Red Bull KTM Tech3 rider Hafizh Syahrin, from Malaysia, missed out on a point finishing the race in 16th place.
Earlier, Italy’s Lorenzo Baldassarri won the Moto2 race with Remy Gardner, the son of 1987 world 500cc champion Wayne Gardner, taking second place.
Baldassarri, on a Kalex, made his push for victory four laps from the end at Termas de Rio Hondo to deny 21-year-old Gardner of Australia with Alex Marquez of Spain in third.
It was a first world championship podium for Gardner.
The 22-year-old Baldassarri leads the world championship having also won the opening round in Qatar earlier this month while Gardner is second, 17 points behind the Italian.
“It was a good race and important victory for the team,” said Baldassarri.
“I knew I couldn’t battle at the start, I had to manage the tyres so I concentrated on the end of the race.”
Spain’s Jaume Masia, on a KTM, claimed a maiden Moto3 victory, edging out South Africa’s Daryn Binder and Tony Arbolino of Italy on the line.
Having started the race on pole, Masia regained the lead on the last lap, erasing the misery of his first-lap fall in Qatar.
“It’s incredible. I have to thank my team and my fans,” said the Spaniard.
Japan’s Kaito Toba keeps the overall world championship lead after a 10th place finish on Sunday to follow his victory in Qatar.
He has 31 points with Italy’s Lorenzo Dalla Porta in second on 29. Masia moves into third spot, a further two points back.