Valentino Rossi survived a late battle with defending world champion Marc Marquez, who crashed with two laps to go, before the Italian icon went on to win on Sunday’s dramatic Grand Prix of Argentina.
Marquez led the race from the start and opened up a gap of over four seconds before tyre problems allowed veteran Rossi to reel him in and finally take the lead on the second last lap.
Spanish rider Marquez, who won a record 13 races last season, then clipped Rossi’s back wheel and crashed out as Rossi raced on to victory from eighth on the grid.
The decision by Marquez and his Honda team to go with hard tyres backfired badly as Rossi gradually reeled in the Spaniard on his Yamaha.
Rossi closed ground over the final stages and finally made his move on the second-last lap before Marquez immediately tried to regain the lead which led to his accident.
Marquez had been on track to move level with Rossi in the world championship standings but loses ground after the third race of the season.
Rossi also won in Qatar while Marquez claimed the second race of the campaign in Texas where the Italian came third.
“I’m sorry for the accident and sorry for him but I hope he’s ok,” said Rossi.
“I had a great race and the bike was fantastic but I could see that he (Marquez) was having problems with his tyres,” added the seven-time world champion.
“The bike was great, that’s two victories already and I think we can fight to the end of the season,” added Rossi.
“We had great pace and this was an important race because I struggled in practice. I knew he was on hard tyres but I just took it step by step and slowly I could smell the victory. I’m disappointed by his crash and it would have been a great fight to the end but I’m very happy,” said Rossi.
Italian Andrea Dovizioso on a Ducati came home second more than five seconds back with British rider Carl Crutchlow on a Honda third.
“He (Rossi) was faster than me and I was losing time in the corners,” said Dovizioso, who led the Qatar race for long stages before losing out to Rossi in a bid for his first career win at this level.
Earlier, Frenchman Johann Zarco won the Moto2 race to move to the top of the world championship standings.
Leading home Spain’s Alex Rins and Britain’s Sam Lowes, Zarco started from pole but this was his first GP win at this level.
Earlier, British biker Danny Kent rampaged to a second straight Moto3 world championship win and extended his lead at the top of the standings.
Crossing the line 10 seconds ahead of the Spaniards Efren Vazquez and Isaac Vinales, the 21-year-old Kent added to his win last Sunday at the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin Texas.