Aragon, Spain, September 29 – No rain for sure; race day was perfect, especially if you were a Spanish fan. First three spots of the grid in Moto GP – all Spanish. First three spots on the grid in Moto 2 – all Spanish. First three spots on the grid in Moto 3 – all Spanish.
Results? Top three in Moto 3, Spanish. Top three in Moto 2, Spanish. Top three in Moto GP – well, the home town fans had to be content with one Italian sneaking onto the podium to break the weekend’s Spanish monopoly.
“Rookie” Marc Marquez rode an excellent race, making one error (more on that below) but catching and passing the (as usual) fast-starting Jorge Lorenzo to push his Repsol Honda even farther into the lead of his first Moto GP championship season. Lorenzo was relentless, first while leading then while chasing for second, but he later said, “Really, he (Marquez) was stronger all weekend. I pushed to the limits to follow him, but it was impossible. No excuses. He was faster today and we have to think about the next race.”
Third went to Valentino Rossi, happy to finally get back on the podium and break his string of fourth-place finishes, but displeased with his choice of front tire. “I want to go faster and be closer to the top guys because all weekend, especially yesterday, it was not so bad,” said the nine-time world champion. “I decided for the harder tyre on the front – Jorge and Marc had the softer – and after some laps I was in a lot of trouble with understeer and under braking.”
Rossi was perhaps lucky to make the podium, as Lorenzo, Marquez, and Dani Pedrosa easily outclassed the rest. However, on lap 6 of 23 Marquez and Pedrosa touched slightly – it looked like Marquez got in a little too hot in braking – forcing Marquez wide. Then when Pedrosa opened the throttle to exit the corner he suffered a vicious high-side, ending the ride on his 28th birthday, fortunately unhurt if a little shaken up.
Speculation was that the slight touch unsettled Pedrosa’s bike as he opened the throttle, although after the team examined the bike team manager Livio Suppo said, “the rear wheel speed sensor [on Pedrosa’s bike] was broken. After that there was no more traction control, which is why Dani crashed.”
Asked for his opinion on the incident, Valentino Rossi joked, “I haven’t seen the crash, but I think Marc needs to be penalised for two or three seasons! Until I stop racing!” Nicky Hayden could be forgiven a little smile as he recalled the 2006 race at Estoril, Portugal, when his young team-mate Dani Pedrosa torpedoed him out of the race and nearly ruined his world championship bid.
Rossi still had to work hard for his podium, as Alvaro Bautista, Stefan Bradl, and Cal Crutchlow were all hot on his heels for the entire race. Bautista got by with three laps remaining, but Rossi pulled a hair-raising outside pass on the last lap to get third place back.
Things stretched out in the rest of the field, with Crutchlow’s Yamaha Tech 3 Monster team-mate Bradley Smith all alone in seventh, Andrea Doviziso likewise in eighth on the first Ducati, then Nicky Hayden and Andrea Iannone bringing the other Ducatis in to complete the top 10. Once again Aleix Espargaro was the class of the CRT group with an 11th-place result.
The result gives Marquez a 39-point lead – more than a race win’s worth of points – over Lorenzo in the Moto GP standings, with four races left on the schedule. You’d have to take long odds to bet against Marquez taking the title in his first try – a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since King Kenny Roberts went to Europe for the first time in 1978.
Nico Terol collected his second win of the season, his first since the race in Austin, Texas, winning by a clear 1.7 seconds and claiming to have found the windy conditions difficult. Starting from pole, the Spaniard managed his tyres to perfection in the latter stages. Terol revealed recently that he has been suffering nutritional deficiencies and has been placed on a special diet to stop him fading in races. Although Tito Rabat started to reel him in with eight laps remaining, he remained unchallenged and took just the third Suter win of the season, all coming for Aspar riders.
Meanwhile, championship leader Scott Redding pulled out all the stops – gaining eight positions on the first lap after a poor qualifying! This led to a fierce batte for position between the group chasing Terol, the Briton tussling with Pons Tuenti HP 40 riders Pol Espargaro and Tito Rabat, with Aspar’s Jordi Torres and Italtrans rider Taka Nakgami also getting involved.
Rabat gradually pulled away to collect second, while the final laps saw the main title contenders, Redding and Espargaro, swapping paint in pass after pass for the final podium spot. Espargaro got the best of the Brit on the last lap, barely beating Redding to the line. That leaves a 20-point gap in the championship, with Redding still leading the way.
The Aragon race saw the Moto3 championship was blown wide open at the Aragon Grand Prix as Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins were locked in battle for victory once again, while title leader Salom was again left to limit the damage with a late push for fourth. Rins stayed true to his late run of form, putting himself back into title contention in the second half of the season as he stole the lead away from Vinales on the first turn of the final lap.
The Estrella Galicia KTM rider then put the power down and blasted out of turn fifteen to pull away and cross the line in first place for his fifth win of the season and second victory in a row. A frustrated Vinales said he had trouble with third gear on the last lap, preventing him pushing back at Rins.
Rins’ team-mate Alex Marquez completed the leading three. It gives Marquez his third consecutive third place finish
The result cuts Luis Salom’s lead in the championship to nine points ahead of Rins who now sits in second only a further three points ahead of Vinales.
Moto GP Standings after 14 of 18 races
1. Marc Marquez, Spain, Repsol Honda, 278 points
2. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 239
3. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 219
4. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Yamaha Factory Racing, 185
5. Cal Crutchlow, U.K., Tech 3 / Monster Yamaha, 156
6. Stefan Bradl, Germany, LCR Honda, 135
7. Alvaro Bautista, G0&Fun Gresini Honda, 125
8. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Ducati Racing, 112
9. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Ducati Racing, 102
10. Bradley Smith, U.K., Tech 3 / Monster Yamaha, 80
Next race, October 13, Sepang, Malaysia.
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