It’s been perhaps the most unusual of weekends in a very long time, with logistical problems meaning that the whole weekend’s action was compressed into only a day and a half, but in the end the Argentine Grand Prix made history for more reasons than that as Aleix Espargaro finally became a MotoGP race winner and Aprilia topped the premier class for the first time ever.
But while Espargaro might have finally stood on the top step, in his 200th race, there were plenty of riders who had tough weekends – including reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo and 2021 race winner Jack Miller, who both slumped down the order as soon as the lights went out.
As always, the result of that is plenty of winners and losers, and plenty to talk about when it comes to our rider ratings.
Our MotoGP ranking system is simple: the riders who we believe performed the best in every race are at the top, and the ones who underperformed are at the bottom and scored appropriately.
It isn’t just about the end result though, with pre-race expectation and form going into a race and a weekend heavily influencing their eventual score, not just the points they scored every Sunday afternoon.
Aleix Espargaro – 10
Started: 1st Finished: 1st
It’s hard to imagine a more perfect weekend than Espargaro’s. The Aprilia rider topped all but one of the sessions, he qualified on pole position, he set the fastest lap en route to winning the race, and he did it all in his 200th race. It’s not just testament to his skills but also to his determination, and comes as the culmination of a six-year project to turn the RS-GP from also-ran into a race winner. What’s even better, though, is that while he might have dominated the weekend, no-one believes it’s the last time this year that the new championship leader will step onto the top of the podium.
Jorge Martin – 9
Started: 2nd Finished: 2nd
The fact that Pramac Racing’s Martin didn’t win on Sunday is perhaps a bigger testament to his development than the fact that he led for all but the final few laps in his battle with Espargaro. Martin is blisteringly fast and capable of consistent podium finishes this year, and the fact that he knew Sunday was a day to settle for second rather than taking the risk of crashing out fighting for the win shows how quickly he’s maturing – and perhaps hints at title ambitions to boot.
Alex Rins – 8
Started: 7th Finished: 3rd
A superb performance from the Suzuki rider; Rins continues to demonstrate how much his mindset has changed this year thanks to a new-found consistency. Able to tag onto the back of the first two well enough to very nearly hunt them down, while also resisting the advances of team-mate Joan Mir in fourth, it was exactly the sort of race that 2021 Rins would so easily have crashed out of, but it turned into yet another strong result for him.
Marco Bezzecchi – 8
Started: 17th Finished: 9th
It’s pretty clear that the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit wasn’t an easy one for Ducati – but those are the sort of days where experience counted for a lot. That means that for rookie Bezzecchi, in only his third race, to finish ahead of the vast majority of the Ducatis on the grid was something pretty special. It hints at what’s still to come from the youngster in 2022 and helped him rack up some points in the rookie of the year standings.
Joan Mir – 7.5
Started: 8th Finished: 4th
Not quite as good as his team-mate, of course – but nonetheless a very solid day for the 2020 world champion after a good weekend overall. Finding his old late-race aggressiveness for the first time this year, fourth was not just his best result of the season, but also one that bodes really well for the rest of the season.
Maverick Vinales – 7.5
Started: 5th Finished: 7th
Vinales was completely outshone by his team-mate, but the reality is that without Espargaro being in the race, it would have been Vinales that we were be raving about. He didn’t just live up to his big talk coming into the weekend but also reflected some of his testing form. It’s clear he’s still got some way to go to be fully comfortable on the RS-GP, but that adaptation is coming rapidly.
Brad Binder – 7
Started: 12th Finished: 6th
Once again MotoGP’s quintessential Sunday man, Binder did what he does best and made up a load of places after starting from a lot further back than he should have been. It’s exactly the sort of result that last year allowed him to finish the season in a strong overall position – but an improved Saturday could have made the day a lot better still.
Pol Espargaro – 6.5
Started: 4th Finished: DNF
Sunday’s crash was really disappointing for Espargaro, but it’s also one that was easy to explain away, because if there’s one type of condition that the Honda isn’t a big fan of, it’s the slippery and hot ones we had in Argentina. Espargaro spent the whole race in podium contention but right on the limit and a mistake was perhaps inevitable – but the good thing is that it should only get better from here on in.
Pecco Bagnaia – 6
Started: 14th Finished: 5th
Good day or bad day for the 2021 championship runner-up? Well, the good news is that he finished ahead of last year’s main rival Fabio Quartararo – but the whole weekend looked like another disappointing one for the Ducati rider. He finished up surprisingly upbeat, pleased with what he had learned about Ducati’s new bike, but he needs to show next weekend that that’s something they can actually build on.
Luca Marini – 6
Started: 3rd Finished: 11th
Given where he started, 11th is maybe not an amazing result for Marini – but the reality is that the valuable experience of running at the front taught the Italian a lot, something that will be reflected as the season progresses. Always a slow learner and still a rookie in some regards, there’s still time this year for the good results he’s hoping for.
Raul Fernandez – 5.5
Started: 21st Finished: 16th
The best of the rest of the rookies after Bezzecchi’s very impressive ride, Fernandez did very well himself given that the KTM clearly isn’t as good a machine as some of the other bikes behind him. He finished two seconds off 15th and a point, but nonetheless beat his team-mate and all the other rookies bar one for a satisfactory if not spectacular finish.
Darryn Binder – 5
Started: 23rd Finished: 18th
Binder isn’t the only Yamaha rider who struggled this weekend – and as a result of that, 18th is really just about where you’d have suggested he’d finish before the race started. But he stayed on the bike, he learned lots, and he didn’t make any silly mistakes like his team-mate did, so it is very definitely not a disaster for him.
Stefan Bradl – 5
Started: 24th Finished: 19th
Sunday’s result for Bradl essentially reflects that of any of the other previous 16 times he’s replaced Marc Marquez in the past two years. Nothing spectacular, but a safe ride to the finish line and a better race performance than in qualifying, where his relative lack of time on the bike punishes him even more. Expect more of the same in Texas.
Remy Gardner – 5
Started: 22nd Finished: 17th
Much like his team-mate Fernandez, a result just outside the points but close to the other rookies is really about what you’d expect from Gardner on a weekend with less track time and difficult conditions. Would have been an easy day to make a mistake but the Australian didn’t, although the chequered flag no doubt came as a bit of a relief.
Franco Morbidelli – 4.5
Started: 15th Finished: DNF
For the second weekend in a row, Morbidelli hindered himself not on Sunday but on Saturday, with a difficult qualifying position meaning he never got the chance to show his real speed. He found something in the race and was able to start making progress, but a puncture meant that what potential he had wasn’t realised.
Enea Bastianini – 4
Started: 13th Finished: 10th
A pretty anonymous day for the previous championship leader. We know that Termas de Rio Hondo isn’t a particularly Ducati-friendly track, but with the old 2021 bike still seemingly better than the 2022 machine, it’s still inside Bastianini’s honeymoon period for consistent good results. But, a mistake at the halfway point denied him any chance to be as competitive as factory rider Bagnaia, something that Bastainini should be rueing.
Miguel Oliveira – 4
Started: 16th Finished: 13th
If you were to pick another KTM that Oliveria always needs to be close to, it’s obviously that of experienced team-mate Brad Binder – but with rookie Raul Fernandez not that far behind him at all and with only three points to show for his weekend, it’s hard to be excited about his result. He was slowed by his qualifying position and never looked like a challenger this weekend. There’s an air of resignation these days about Oliveira, which doesn’t bode well.
Fabio Di Giannantonio – 4
Started: 20th Finished: DNF
Di Gianantonio is obviously a rookie and as such is fully entitled to make rookie mistakes now and then – but when you’ve fought through 20-odd tough laps, throwing it away with only a few remaining is frustrating at best. He wasn’t going to score points and he wasn’t going to gain much more data than he did, but it’s still not the result that he should have had.
Alex Marquez – 3.5
Started: 19th Finished: 15th
Another week, another somewhat average result for Marquez towards the back of the points. Sure, it was a difficult day for the Hondas thanks to a hot and slippery track, but Marquez never looked competitive throughout the weekend, even when the track was better – and 19th on the grid is as much a demonstration of his speed as his race result.
Fabio Quartararo – 3
Started: 6th Finished: 8th
There are two ways to look at Quartararo’s result, and one of them is that on a difficult weekend he was able to salvage some points in eighth. But the reality is that rear grip issues for a Yamaha on a hot and slippery track is nothing new and damage limitation as far back as eighth, behind all his main title rivals, wasn’t good enough. He was frustrated with the factory afterwards, but there’s only so much blame he can put on it when the issues are so well-known.
Johann Zarco – 3
Started: 9th Finished: DNF
A big rule of racing, really, is not to crash when your team-mate is leading the race, and it’s a black mark against Zarco that he managed to tuck the front and go down while fighting for what would have been at the very least a better position than Jack Miller on a similar-specification factory bike. It is, unfortunately, the sort of mistake he makes on occasion, though – and is the reason why his early 2021 title charge never came to anything in the end.
Takaaki Nakagami – 2.5
Started: 10th Finished: 12th
Nakagami lined up inside the top 10 and made a mega start, which looked to put him in contention in the opening stages of the race – but from listening to both himself and those around him, it sounds like he was riding way beyond his level. Knocking into multiple people (including an irate Mir) as he overheated the front tyre, he quickly faded away to a position that’s perhaps OK in the circumstance but in reality could have been better with a more sensible head.
Andrea Dovizioso – 2
Started: 18th Finished: 20th
The veteran of the class, it was something of a rookie error from Dovizioso to mess up his front holeshot device and leave him in the pits to fix it – but that mistake was one borne out of a disappointing weekend all together, with the three-time MotoGP title runner-up never showing anything close to front-running pace.
Jack Miller – 1
Started: 11th Finished: 14th
The problems for Miller in Sunday’s race were two-fold. Firstly, his own performance was far from his best, as a lack of feeling meant he was never able to push, never able to make a single overtake, and as a result simply went backwards even as others crashed out in front of him. But what makes it even worse is that the rider tipped to replace him for 2023, Martin, took the same bike as Miller is riding to second after leading the race for all but a few laps.