Britain’s Cal Crutchlow won the Argentina Moto GP on a Honda on Sunday in a race lit up by a dramatic clash between reigning world champion Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi.
Crutchlow took the lead two laps from the end and pipped France’s Johann Zarco by a quarter of a second to take victory in the second race of the season, as Spain’s Alex Rins came third.
It was his third Grand Prix win and Honda’s 750th in the premier class, leaving the British rider top of the early standings from Andrea Dovizioso.
The Italian won the opening race in Qatar last month but came sixth this time.
“It was nice to win, but it was to be expected to be honest. I came into the weekend thinking I could leave here with a chance of being first or second with Marc [Marquez] and we ended up winning,” Crutchlow said.
“We have to be pleased, the team has done a fantastic job in the last two races and I think we could have fought for victory no matter which circuit it would have been this weekend.
“Now we go to Austin [on April 22] and we’ll aim for the top five and look to come out of there with strong points.”
Jack Miller of Australia came fourth after claiming a shock maiden pole position, while Spaniard Marquez, who had been the fastest in the warm-up, crossed the line in fifth place.
However, he was relegated to 18th after being handed a 30-second penalty for hitting Rossi as he tried to overtake on a corner, sending the Italian to the floor.
Marquez was later seen heading to Rossi’s box to apologise at the end of the race, although his initiative did not appear to be well received by the Italian’s camp.
Rossi, a seven-time world champion in the top class, also finished up out of the points in 19th.
His compatriot Mattia Pasini won in Moto2, while another Italian, 19-year-old Marco Bezzecchi, claimed his first ever victory in Moto3.