Dorna has confirmed that MotoGP
will compete at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit from 2014 through 2016, marking Grand Prix’s first visit to Argentina since 1999. Prior to the official announcement, MotoGP riders Cal Crutchlow of Tech 3 Yamaha, LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, Avintia Blusens’ Hector Barbera and Go & Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista took to the new track for testing.
“This is my first visit to Argentina and I have been overwhelmed with how much interest there is in MotoGP,” said Crutchlow prior to the two-day test at the circuit. “The passion and enthusiasm for MotoGP here is infectious and it will be great to be back next year for the race. South America is a key market for Yamaha and Dorna and the interest today proves why it is essential that there is a MotoGP race in this part of the world. Now I am looking forward to trying out the new track on Thursday and Friday. It is a huge privilege for me to be one of the first to ride the track on a MotoGP bike and great that the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team can be involved in helping promote the sport here. From what I have seen the new track looks fantastic. I've had chance to see some on-board footage and it looks like it will be a good challenge next season with some very fast sections. I hope the people of Argentina are going to enjoy seeing us racing in their country.”
The 14-turn, 2.98-mile track is expected to be fast and very hard on tires, with Bridgestone
representatives claiming it has the potential to be the most demanding circuit on schedule in regards to tire wear. To help prepare, the tire manufacturer brought a number of different symmetric and asymmetric slicks for riders to test in order to gain information on which configurations will perform best at the circuit.
Thursday’s first outing saw Bradl top the timesheet, with Bautista in second, Crutchlow third and Barbera fourth. Friday's session was disrupted early on by rain, but riders still ventured out with caution to gain experience on track. By the afternoon, sun had returned and the test was extended by 30 minutes to take advantage of the improved conditions. Bautista topped the timesheet on Friday.
“This is the first time I have ever been to Argentina and it has been a wonderful experience so far,” commented Bautista. “We were given a huge welcome by an extraordinary number of journalists in Buenos Aires and then on Wednesday we had a fantastic day being tourists at Termas de Rio Hondo. We went out on track today to get a first feel for a circuit that looks really nice and has some technically demanding sections. We spent a day studying the layout and on Friday we will work on adjusting the settings of the bike to suit it more.”
Dorna had originally planned to include the Argentine circuit on the 2013 schedule, but received a notification from the Spanish government on June 20, 2012 saying “that teams and riders sponsored by Repsol should not travel to the Republica Argentina due to safety reasons,” according to a Dorna press release
distributed late November 2012. Dorna had until November 18th, 2012 to propose its 2013 MotoGP calendar to the FIM and the deadline passed with the Gran Premio de la Republica Argentina off the schedule. Two days after the deadline passed the Spanish government withdrew its recommendation, but at that point it was too late to alter the proposed schedule. The decision to drop the Argentina round from the 2013 calendar coincided with the dispute between Argentina and the Spanish-based Repsol company, stemming from claims that Argentina seized 51% of shares in the oil company YPF from Repsol, which is the majority stakeholder in the formerly state-owned company.