Marc Marquez has taken one step closer to clinching the MotoGP World Championship after a dominating performance at MotorLand Aragon saw the Spaniard not only win but extend his championship lead to a huge 52 points. Yamaha duo of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were involved in another classic duel with the Mallorcan getting the better of “The Doctor” on this occasion.
The overcast skies had cleared by the time the Premier Class took to the grid with the sun starting to break clear, however track temperatures were much cooler than they were on Friday and Saturday which meant riders would have to cautious for the opening laps.
Marc Marquez was starting from pole position with Spanish compatriots Maverick Vinales and Jorge Lorenzo joining him on the front row. As the lights went out it was the Suzuki of Vinales that bolted ahead of the field with Pole man Marquez shadowing very close behind him. It didn’t take the man from Cervera made his way to the lead, slipping under Vinales into turn one. However this lead was cut short as a slight wobble heading into turn seven saw Marquez drop to P5 and hand the lead back to Vinales.
The Silverstone winner look as if he was going to replicate that performance as the Spaniard immediately opened up a gap to Valentino Rossi in second but the Italian showed he had pace, putting in the fastest lap of the race with eighteen laps to go. The Yamaha man then cleverly made his way under Vinales forcing the twenty-one year old to sit up allowing Marquez who had been slicing his way through the field at this point to make his way into second and begin to hunt down his championship rival.
It only took the Championship Leader a couple of laps to close in on the man from Tavullia, setting the fastest lap in the process, the Spaniard wasted no time in getting past Rossi, moving up the inside on the ‘Aragon Corkscrew’ and making it stick. Marquez then proceeded to set a blistering pace which the brave Italian eventually could not keep up with and the number 93 bike subsequently escaped the grasp of the nine time world champion and opened up a three second gap.
As the laps ticked away Jorge Lorenzo started finding the pace he was lacking throughout the weekend, having dropped Vinales, the Yamaha man was swiftly right behind his teammate ready to launch an attack, which the “Spartan” did with five laps to go. Rossi sat behind his colleague for the remaining laps until the Italian tried a rather ambitious move but unfortunately ran wide into Turn 11 on the penultimate lap, ultimately gifting second to Lorenzo.
Marquez held his nerve to take a vital victory and put one hand on the title with four races to go. Speaking after Repsol Honda Man was relieved with his performance. “I decided to push from the start and then I had a big moment at turn 7. So I said ok “quiet”, and then step by step caught Valentino. When I overtook him I stayed calm for one lap and then opened the gap. It’s an important victory because since Austria and Germany we’ve not been able to win again in the dry. Here was a great point on the calendar to attack, and win.” Speaking on his Championship lead the Spaniard knows he needs to be careful. ” It’s a nice advantage but we have to stay focused because crashing is very easy – now we go to Asia and that’s one of the most difficult points of the season. We know on some circuits we will struggle more and some less, but we need to keep calm.”
Jorge Lorenzo completed a topsy- turvy weekend with a fantastic second position. This is the Mallorcan’s best result since the Jerez Grand Prix back in April. Speaking in Parc Ferme afterwards, Lorenzo explained the reasoning for his tyre choice, “”Sometimes a negative creates a positive thing, and today the crash made me take two warm up laps to try both bikes, because we wanted to check the crashed bike. I felt ok when I tried the first bike on the hard tyre, and when I tried the second bike with the soft I didn’t feel the same. On the grid it’s difficult to choose in these situations, last minute, but my instinct from the crash made me able to make this race and finally we’ve ended up in a great position because we expected to finish six or seventh – and finally we are second and not far from the winner.”
Valentino Rossi will mark this weekend as a missed opportunity as the “Doctor” fights to try and overturn Marquez’s enormous lead in the Championship and dropping nine points will not help his cause. A deflated Rossi explained to motogp.com afterwards how he feels the race went and on how he will keep fighting for the championship. “The beginning of the race was very fun, a great battle and I enjoyed it. I saw that Marquez’ moment in Turn 7 and I hoped his front tyre had issues…then when I was in front I had good pace and tried to push at the maximum but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. We worked throughout the weekend to try and be stronger in the second half of the race but unfortunately it didn’t work how we wanted it. Lorenzo was stronger than me in the second half of the race. From behind I could stay with him and I wanted to fight down to the last lap, but I made a mistake on the brakes and I cut the corner. But these are important points.”
After dropping back in the latter parts of the race, Maverick Vinales managed to guide his Suzuki home in fourth place and secure another impressive top five placing. Top Independent team rider Cal Crutchlow showed how strong his pace was this weekend completing a solid race in P5. Misano winner Dani Pedrosa had a less then exciting race to finish off his weekend in P6 ahead of Spanish compatriots Aleix and Pol Espargaro who had a great battle to finish P7 and P8 respectively.
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista had a storming ride around Motorland Aragon saving his tyres well and launching a late attack on Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso who was really suffering in the latter stages of the race. Bautista crossed the line in a stunning P9. ‘DesmoDovi’ however than found himself involved in a battle with the second Aprilia of Stefan Bradl with the incredible German coming out on top completing the top ten, leaving the Italian in a disappointing P11. Andrea Iannone’s replacement, Michele Pirro had a solid ride in P12, with Hector Barbera finishing in P13 having overtaken Eugene Laverty who unsuccessfully made an attempt to take P12 from Pirro but the Irishman ran off track and had to relinquish his P13 to Barbera, in the end Laverty collected two points in P14, Nicky Hayden’s once off return to MotoGP proved a success as the Kentucky Kid who is replacing the injured Jack Miller Collected the final point in P15 despite never having ridden the bike, tyres or electronics.
MotoGP heads to the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit Japan in three weeks time, with Valentino hoping to gain some valuable points in his attempt to claim his tenth world title.
Image Via: Gold and Goose