There were plenty of raised eyebrows when Hiroshi Aoyama was announced as getting one of the (then) coveted Production Honda rides at the end of last season.

The former 250cc title world champion silenced his doubters by beating Drive M7 Aspar team-mate Nicky Hayden in a final lap showdown in Argentina, to finish tenth but the top Open class rider.

"The race was tough," said the Japanese, just 16th at the end of the opening lap. "At this new circuit we had many doubts about the durability of the tyres, but I'm very happy to have concluded the race as the best Open class rider.

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"In the last third of the race my tyres were almost on the limit, but I guess this was similar for everyone. I had fun, coming from behind at the end of the race I had some good battles with Hernandez and Nicky and we swapped places several times on the closing laps. I'm glad I was able to place ahead of them and take tenth position.

"Earlier this year everything was new to me, but I've grown since I joined the Drive M7 Aspar team and I think that the result today is the reward for all our hard work."

Hayden, who became the first person to put the Open Honda into Qualifying 2 on the Saturday, made no excuses.
"I really enjoyed this circuit. In the race I would have liked to have taken a better result and at least beaten my team-mate so not too thrilled," he said.

"At the start of the race I did not had a good feeling with the front end. The track conditions improved throughout the weekend and so we worked to find rear grip. However having more rear grip made the bike push onto the front end. I guess I am not the only one this happened to.

"At first I struggled to pick up the pace and move up the field, because I couldn't brake well. As the laps went by I started to feel better and I managed to overtake people.

"It was going ok. On the last lap I didn't know how much of a gap I had on Hiro and I broke too deep at the end of the back straight and lost time. Then on the last corner I overprotected, 'closed' the front and ran a bit wide. He beat him. That's how it goes.

"It would have been great to finish as the top Open rider, but Hiro did a better job than me."