The Grand Prix circus returns to Argentina for the first time in 15 years this weekend and the Marc VDS Racing Team’s Tito Rabat and Mika Kallio are looking forward to the challenge of racing on the all new Termas de Rio Hondo circuit.
While Kallio’s first glimpse of the circuit will come on Thursday, Rabat was one of two Moto2 riders that travelled out to Argentina last year to spend two days testing on the track. The Moto2 championship leader was impressed with both the layout of the circuit and the enthusiasm of the Argentinian race fans he met during his visit.
For Livio Loi, Termas de Rio Hondo is the third new circuit he’s had to learn in as many races, but at least this time his Moto3 rivals will be in the same position. The 16-year-old Belgian finished in the points last time out in Texas and he’s looking for a repeat performance this weekend in Argentina.
“The Termas de Rio Hondo track is a good one. It has a good mix of fast and slow corners, with a long back straight. When we tested there the track was very dirty, as it had just been finished, and we had rain on the second day. It meant we weren’t really up to speed, but at least we got a feel for the track layout. I’m looking forward to returning this weekend. We need to sort out the gearbox issues we had in Austin, but I don’t think it will be quite so noticeable in Argentina, because of the nature of the circuit. It’s far too early in the season to be thinking about the championship, so, once again we will head into the race looking for the win.”
“The shoulder injury that caused me the problem in Austin is already much better. I’ll get it checked ahead of the weekend but, from what I’ve seen of the Termas de Rio Hondo track, it’s not going to be as physically demanding on the riders as Austin. It’s a new track, which means it’s an unknown in terms of set up, but then it’s the same for everyone. I had the pace in Qatar and again in Texas, so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be up there again this weekend. A win would be the perfect way to end the three overseas races and it would put me back on terms with Tito and Maverick Vinales in terms of the championship.”
“Argentina is another new track for me but, unlike Qatar and Texas, it’s the same for everyone this weekend. Nobody has ridden there before and nobody has any data, so we’re all starting from scratch. I learned in Texas that no matter how many times you walk a new circuit, it looks completely different from the bike. That won’t stop me walking as many laps as possible when we arrive though. First practice will be all about learning the track, but we need to be on the pace from the second session onwards. My goal is to pick up more points this weekend, but a better qualifying position would make that easier to do than it was in Texas, so that’s what we need to focus on".