Background: MXGP of Argentina

A pleasant addition to MXGP

· 3 mintues read

The Grand Prix of Qatar, which hosted the opening round of the FIM Motocross World Championship for five years in succession, was a bit of a slow burner. Overshadowed by negativity to begin with, the event soon won some naysayers over and acted as an enjoyable start to a gruelling campaign. It seemed that the Qatari event and first round of MXGP would go hand-in-hand for many years to come.

Contract negotiations between Youthstream and the QMMF took an unexpected turn though and the Grand Prix season opener has now found a new home for the fourth time this decade. Neuquen, a circuit that can be found towards the south of Argentina and not far from the Chile border, is no stranger to the MXGP circus, but this is the first time that it has occupied such a prestigious position on the schedule. The Argentine event has slotted into the third or fourth spot on the calendar since its inception four years ago.

Antonio Cairoli has never won at this particular track, believe it or not (KTM Images/Ray Archer)

Although the scenic venue is now looked at as a firm fixture within the MXGP series, it really is one of the newer stops on the current calendar. RedSand, Orlyonok, Ottobiano, Semarang, Frauenfeld-Gachnang, Afyonkarahisar and Imola are the only circuits that were introduced in the years that followed the first MXGP of Patagonia-Argentina. Neuquen is, however, universally accepted, thanks to the fact that it boasts various ingredients that make a brilliant event. There is an exciting layout that features natural elements and options for riders to explore, soil that sparks intrigue thanks to its deceiving nature and a passionate crowd that light up the venue. What more could one want?

In the three years that Neuquen has hosted a round of MXGP, some important moments have occurred. Jeffrey Herlings crashed out of the event the first year it was held, for instance, and Dylan Ferrandis claimed his maiden Grand Prix win. Antonio Cairoli and Ryan Villopoto went toe-to-toe for the first time in their qualifying race that same year. Patterns began to emerge in the years that followed, as Tim Gajser has swept the last three premier-class motos that have been held on Argentine soil and Red Bull KTM have done the same in MX2.

Pauls Jonass was an unstoppable force in Argentina a year ago (KTM Images/Ray Archer)

The latter point there is particularly interesting. Why? KTM have never won an MXGP moto at this circuit, despite their success in the smaller category, as the spoils have gone to Husqvarna, Suzuki and Honda riders. This is also one of the few circuits that Antonio Cairoli has not won on. It is extremely likely that at least one of those facts is going to be irrelevant when the final chequered flag falls on Sunday evening. Another intriguing stat is that Romain Febvre, who won his world title the same year that Neuquen landed on the calendar, has never finished in the top three overall at this track. A third in a moto has been his best ranking.

How many times has a rider won the Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina, then gone on to claim the title? Not as much as one may presume, as it is so early in the season and various kinks are still being worked out. Jeffrey Herlings swept the MX2 class two years ago and then went on to win that title, as Tim Gajser did in MXGP, then Pauls Jonass managed to do the same just last year. There is a fifty-percent success rate. Speaking of Tim Gajser, he is the only rider in the FIM Motocross World Championship who has stood atop the Argentine box on more than one occasion. Can Max Nagl, Jeffrey Herlings or Pauls Jonass join that category this weekend?

MXGP Winners (Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina)

Maximillian Nagl

2015

Tim Gajser

2016

Tim Gajser

2017

MX2 Winners (Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina)

Dylan Ferrandis

2015

Jeffrey Herlings

2016

Pauls Jonass

2017

Manufacturer MXGP Wins (Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina)

Husqvarna

2015

Honda

2016

Honda

2017

Manufacturer MX2 Wins (Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina)

Kawasaki

2015

KTM

2016

KTM

2017

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Honda Racing Corporation

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