South Africa's Brad Binder rode a "mega race" on his KTM to win a frantic Argentina MotoGP sprint on Saturday ahead of Ducati duo, Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini of Italy.
World champion Francesco Bagnaia, on a factory Ducati, was only sixth after sweeping both the sprint and the showpiece grand prix at last weekend's season-opener in Portugal.
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Brad Binder pulls off a remarkable ride from 15th on the grid to winning the Sprint Race for the #ArgentinaGP pic.twitter.com/TTf3QLlqGt— SuperSport ?? (@SuperSportTV) April 1, 2023
However, the Italian retains the championship lead ahead of Sunday's main race where he will look to deliver Ducati's first victory at Termas de Rio Hondo.
"Brad rode a mega race as we all saw," Binder's Australian KTM teammate Jack Miller told www.crash.net.
"He showed the bike has all the capabilities. He qualified one position in front of me on the grid and he made it work, that's for certain.
"I could not believe it. I got a decent start but when I started the third lap and saw he was in front. What happened there?"
OH MAMA! @BradBinder_33 WINS THE SPRINT IN ARGENTINA! ??
1??5??th to 1??st!! WHAT A RACE! ?? #KTM #ReadyToRace #ArgentinaGP ???? pic.twitter.com/6RRwEaNcZh— Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (@KTM_Racing) April 1, 2023
Alex Marquez, of Ducati-Gresini, will start Sunday's grand prix from pole after dominating a dramatic qualifying session where his bike caught fire.
Marquez, the younger brother of six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez, has yet to win a race in the sport's premier class.
Binder was the star of the sprint having started from a lowly 15th on the grid.
The 27-year-old nipped ahead by the second lap after Franco Morbidelli on a Yamaha had been quickest off the start line.
"I surprised myself a little, but what a start," said Binder after finishing 0.072sec ahead of Bezzecchi. "The plan worked from start to finish."
Morbidelli slipped back to finish fourth with Marquez in fifth.
Maverick Vinales, on an Aprilia, who is second in the championship and was a winner in Argentina with Yamaha in 2017, Jorge Martin, 2021 world champion Fabio Quartararo and Jack Miller rounded out the top 10.
Aleix Espargaro, who became Aprilia's first MotoGP race winner at Argentina last year, crashed out from ninth spot.
"I hope everyone enjoys this format of races, I think the show is good, the quality of the show is fantastic for the TV. But I really don't like it," said the Spaniard.
Joan Mir, the 2020 world champion, also came off the track on his Honda and was taken to hospital with an ankle injury.
Four riders had already been ruled out of the Argentina Grand Prix having suffered injuries last weekend in Portugal.
Bagnaia's Ducati teammate Enea Bastianini has a broken shoulder blade.
Spanish veteran Pol Espargaro is facing a lengthy absence due to a bruised lung and fractures to his jaw and spine following a crash in practice.
Marc Marquez is out after undergoing a fifth surgery in less than three years following his spectacular collision with Aprilia rider Miguel Oliveira.
The luckless Oliveira is also sidelined due to a leg injury sustained in that accident, leaving the grid in Argentina reduced to 18 from 22.
ARGENTINA MOTOGP SPRINT RESULTS:
1. Brad Binder (RSA/KTM) 19 min 56.873 sec
2. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/Ducati-VR46) at 0.072
3. Luca Marini (ITA/Ducati-VR46) 0.877
4. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Yamaha) 2.354
5. Alex Marquez (ESP/Ducati-Gresini) 2.462
6. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 2.537
7. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Aprilia) 2.643
8. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) 3.754
9. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 3.856
10. Jack Miller (AUS/KTM) 5.143
Did not finish:
Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia)
Joan Mir (ESP/Honda)
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 41 points
2. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Aprilia) 28 points
3. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/Ducati-VR46) 25 points
4. Brad Binder (RSA/KTM) 22 points
5. Alex Marquez (ESP/Ducati-Gresini) 17 points
6. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac) 15 points
7. Jack Miller (AUS/KTM) 15 points
8. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) 11 points
9. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 11 points
10. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 9 points