Determined to prove a point after crashing out of the last race in Aragon after a collision with his team-mate, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa took the point from early leader Jorge Lorenzo and was never headed. His third victory of the 2013 season saw him joined on the podium by team-mate Marc Marquez and Lorenzo.
The Spaniard said, “It’s a great feeling to come back and to win this race after the huge crash at Aragon, because physically it is very hard here. I have had a hard week and almost couldn’t get out of bed. So it’s great to come back and win this for the fans and the team.”
Marquez and Lorenzo had a terrific scrap for second, passing and repassing one another and nearly making contact several times. It was hard not to wince, particularly since Lorenzo has recently been publicly critical of Marquez’ aggressive riding.
The impish Marquez said, “I had a nice, fun battle with Lorenzo, but at the same time I could see that Dani was opening up a gap. When I finally managed to overtake Jorge and make the pass stick, I tried to reduce the distance that Dani had put between us. However, I saw that it was too risky. From that moment on, I decided to focus on keeping Lorenzo at bay.”
Lorenzo wasn’t overly pleased to finish third, but was resigned as his defence of his world title gets tougher and tougher. He said, “I enjoyed the battle (with Marquez) because it was good fun and went on for a while. I’m happy with the podium because a podium is a podium, but I’m slightly disappointed too, because I wanted to beat Dani and if possible win the race.”
He explained, “Today in the heat we were not competitive enough. At the beginning like always we were not so bad but once the rear tire dropped we weren’t strong enough on braking. Third place was the best result possible.”
All three of the rostrum finishers retain mathematical possibilities of clinching the World Championship, although Marquez is the only rider who could claim the title at Phillip Island next weekend.
Fourth, for the fourth time in five races and the seventh time this season, was Lorenzo’s team-mate Valentino Rossi. The Italian qualified on the front row, held with the leaders for the first half of the race, then gradually dropped off to a lonely ride to the finish. The nine-time world champion shrugged, saying, “Today was half and half for me.
“For sure we improved and … I was able to be very close to Jorge. It looks like today our competitors had an advantage here; they were able to keep a better rhythm than us.”
He was followed by Alvaro Bautista (Go&Fun Honda) and Cal Crutchlow (Tech 3 Yamaha), who had a fantastic almost race-long battle that went right to the final corner. Next up were Crutchlow’s team-mate Bradley Smith, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, top CRT racer Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics Aspar Aprilia), and Yonny Hernandez, subbing for the injured Ben Spies on the Ignite Pramac Ducati.
Stefan Bradl did not start the race after fracturing his ankle in a crash during practice, while Nicky Hayden’s race ended with an engine problem that left him abandoning the bike in disgust on the front straight.
The Moto 2 race was red-flagged on the first lap after a horrific crash involving half-a-dozen riders. Fortunately no one was seriously injured, and at the restart the race distance was shortened from 19 to 12 laps. Esteve ‘Tito’ Rabat, after being by far the fastest rider all weekend, controlled the race from start to finish.
His Estrella Gallicia team-mate Pol Espargaro, locked in battle with Brit Scott Redding for the 2013 title, finished a strong second. Redding had bad luck on the restart, being forced to sit up at the first corner to miss a crash taking out Alex de Angelis and Xavier Simeion; it looked like Dominic Aegetter hit de Angelis’ bike, which in turn veered into Simeon. Again, the riders escaped unhurt, but the lost time and the shortened race distance held Redding back to seventh place, cutting his title lead to only nine points with three races (75 points) remaining.
The Moto 3 race was possibly the best Grand Prix contest of the season, as for the first half literally a dozen bikes were squabbling over the lead. Even after things settled down a bit there were as many as nine riders who could have grabbed the top position and on the final lap six were still going for it. In the end, Luis Salom grabbed a thrilling victory ahead of Alex Rins by 0.068 sec; the two are the leaders in the championship, and now Salom has a 14-point advantage.
Third in the series, Maverick Vinales got shuffled back to fifth on the crazy last lap; he still has a mathematical chance of the title, but it’s looking less and less likely.
There were a couple of firsts in the race: Portugal’s Miguel Oliveira took his and Indian manufacturer Mahindra’s first GP podium by grabbing third, while back in 15th, Ana Carrasco of Spain, the only female rider currently in GP racing, collected her first championship point.
Moto GP Point Standings after 15 of 18 races
1. Marc Marquez, Spain, Repsol Honda, 298 points
2. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 255
3. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 244
4. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Yamaha Factory Racing, 198
5. Cal Crutchlow, U.K., Tech 3 / Monster Yamaha,166
6. Alvaro Bautista, Sapin, Go&Fun Honda, 136
7. Stefan Bradl, Germany. LCR Honda, 135
8. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Ducati Racing Team, 120
9. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Ducati Racing Team, 102
10. Bradley Smith, U.K., Tech 3 / Monster Yamaha, 89
Next event, October 20, Philip Island, Australia.