#AragonGP Motorland Aragon, raceday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) has looked unstoppable for much of the weekend at MotorLand Aragon, and that was no different come race day. In his 200th Grand Prix, the reigning Champion couldn’t be caught, escaping the pack early and managing the gap to give himself a 98-point lead heading into Thailand. In other words, Championship point…
That was despite an impressive comeback from Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), with the Italian starting tenth and made to work for it as he made his way through the pack to come home second. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) completed the podium, the Australian playing his cards to perfection for a late lunge on Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) in the fight for third.
It was Marquez who got the holeshot from pole, Plan A executed to perfection as a lightning start saw the number 93 beat Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) into Turn 1, with Miller getting a good launch from P4 on the grid to take P3. Viñales slipped to P4 with Quartararo giving chase to Marquez on the opening lap, but by the time they crossed the line, the reigning Champion was a second down the road.
Meanwhile, there was drama early on for the fast-starting Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), the Spaniard overcooking a move at Turn 12 and barrelling into Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT). The latter crashed out, with Rins dropping to P17 as up the road, Marquez was powering clear. Miller was now the man leading the chase but the gap was quickly up to 1.8 seconds by Lap 4, with the race rapidly becoming a battle for the remaining podium places.
In that fight, Miller was holding off the Yamahas of Viñales and Quartararo, but it wasn’t too long until Viñales got the better of the Frenchman and then immediately started to reel in Miller’s half-second advantage. He passed the Australian on Lap 8 as the riders inside the top seven bunched up, with Dovizioso up behind Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) holding off Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) in sixth and seventh.
Lap 9 saw Dovi pounce on Quartararo’s Yamaha and the Italian locked his radar onto the back of fellow GP19 rider Miller, with Viñales the man up next. Soon after, Dovi made his move on Miller at Turn 1, but the Pramac rider wasn’t going to cave in easy as and the duo then started to haul in Viñales. The three were split by just a second heading into the last handful of laps and as Viñales started to fade, he was under increasing pressure.
Three to go and Viñales was still holding onto P2, but Dovizioso used the Ducati power to grab P2 down the back straight, leaving Miller to try and pounce on the Yamaha next. The Australian waited until Turn 1 on the last lap, just about getting it stopped and keeping it together for the rest of the lap for an impressive third podium of the season. Dovi had second wrapped up and coming onto the back straight for the final time, there was nothing more Viñales could do.
And so Marquez crossed the line for his fourth straight win at MotorLand on his 200th Grand Prix start to extend his lead to 98 points. Dovizioso’s recovery from P10 was completed in an ever-intelligent ride to second, with Miller impressing to complete the podium and take top Independent Team rider honours.
Viñales was left disappointed with fourth but it was a valiant effort nonetheless, with Quartararo coming home just behind the Spaniard to complete the top five and take another good haul of points after a mature ride on the limit. Crutchlow produced a solid showing to finish P6 for the third time in four races, the British rider just edging out Aleix Espargaro. The sterling effort from the Aprilia rider secured his best result of the season, and the best for the Noale factory so far in 2019.
Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was in the battle for the top five in the early stages before the nine-time World Champion dropped back to P8, with Rins fighting back to P9 after his opening lap incident and a subsequent Long Lap penalty. LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Takaaki Nakagami won an intense battle for the top 10 which saw him take on Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Ducati Team’s Danilo Petrucci, Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with the group all finishing within two seconds of each other in that order. Tito Rabat (Reale Avinita Racing) took the final point in P15.
Now, it’s time for the flyaways. First up is the PTT Thailand Grand Prix and it’s almost all Marquez’ to lose. 98 points ahead, he just has to outscore Dovizioso by two points and leave for Japan with an advantage of 100 or more. Will he wrap it up? Find out in two weeks.
Marc Marquez: “It was the perfect weekend, we did an amazing job all weekend, from the beginning we started in a good way to understand how it was, we raced the setup we started with in FP1, something for the first time all year. But apart from this, the strategy of the race was clever, I was clear about my strategy and I pushed a lot in the first three laps then tried to manage the distance I’m happy, because it was a good 25 points but this guy here never gives up! He’s still pushing, but in Thailand we have the first match point and I’ll do my best.”
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) blasted to his second win of the season and second win in succession at MotorLand Aragon, managing to fend off Jorge Navarro (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) over the final few laps to turn the tables on the man who just beat him to the Moto3™ race win at the venue in 2016. Another man with form at the track, Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), completed the podium and extended his lead after a crash out of contention early on for key rival Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40).
After a magnificent getaway, Binder grabbed the holeshot from third on the grid, with Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) also getting a great start to launch himself into P2 and demote Marquez and Fernandez. Binder wasn’t hanging about on the opening lap either as he started to stretch away, but a huge twist in the title race then unfolded at Turn 9. Tucked in behind main Championship rival Marquez, Fernandez lost the front and slid out of contention on Lap 1, the Spaniard remounting but his hopes of a third win on the spin gone and damage limitation the new goal.
By the end of Lap 1, Binder held a 0.7 advantage over Marini and Marquez, with Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Navarro also in hot pursuit as the top five made a break at the front. Marquez and Marini were embroiled in a great scrap for second, with Navarro then setting two consecutive fastest laps to get past Lüthi and state some intent.
With Marquez and Marini swapping paint, Binder was racing clear and his lead had reached the two second mark by Lap 11. That was as slight contact between Marini and Marquez went down at Turn 5, as well as an overeager Navarro running wide at Turn 12.
Soon after, Marquez attacked Marini again at Turn 1 and the two headed wide, the Italian holding position but the Championship leader then putting a daring move up the inside at Turn 4 – striking back to perfection. The number 73 was then in the driving seat to try and close Binder down, with Navarro following Marquez through a lap later at Turn 12. By then, the South African’s lead had started to fade as two seconds became 1.5 seconds before, with five laps remaining, the gap was down to just over a second. Marquez and Navarro were locked together and homing in on Binder, but the South African was keeping his cool out front.
With three to go, Navarro pounced at Turn 1 and got the job done, then faced with a handful of laps to try and hunt down the race leader. The Speed Up was closing and the gap dipped below a second before Binder also ran wide at Turn 16 on the penultimate lap, leaving him with just a four-tenth cushion as he headed over the line to start the final lap.
In the end, ‘stay calm, ride clean’ proved enough for Binder as he kept it all together around the last lap, crossing the line just under eight tenths ahead of Navarro. Marquez settled for third and a good haul of points after running a few more risks earlier in the race, gaining some good ground in the Championship to sit 38 points clear of Navarro.
Marini held onto P4 despite late pressure from Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), who takes his second consecutive P5 after another solid weekend. Lüthi couldn’t keep tabs on the top five in the latter stages as the Swiss rider took P6 away from Aragon, although he now sits just two points behind Fernandez and six off Navarro in the overall standings. American Racing KTM’s Iker Lecuona took seventh on home turf; his best finish since his P4 at Round 2 in Argentina. Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) finished just under a second from Lecuona in P8, with Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) completing the top ten at their home race.
Rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) beat fellow rookie Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) to P11 as Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward) and third rookie Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) completed the points.
After a superb Aragon GP, it’s advantage Marquez heading into the final five races of the season, and Navarro now takes over as his main rival as Thailand awaits. Will we witness more drama in Buriram?
After taking pole by seven tenths on Saturday, Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) destroyed the opposition once again on Sunday, taking victory by over four seconds in the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon. That brings the Spaniard right back onto the heels of Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) in the Championship fight, with the points leader only managing 11th after a more difficult weekend. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) converted his impressive front row into an even more impressive first podium, winning the fight for second ahead of Italian Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46).
It was Canet who shot into the lead from pole, the Spaniard maintaining his position and heading up a freight train of riders in the first few laps. Ogura kept second as Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) stormed up into third, with Carlos Tatay (Fundacion Andreas Perez 77) one man to drop down the order initially, as did Dalla Porta.
From there, Canet kept the authority, fighting off a few attacks from the likes of Lopez before pulling the pin and starting to create a serious gap. Pitch perfect from thereon out, no one could stay with the Sterilgarda Max Racing Team rider, and he crossed the line more than four seconds ahead of the squabble for second.
That squabble came down to Ogura vs Foggia vs Lopez vs McPhee, with the Brit having made solid progress up to fight it out right at the front of the freight train. But Ogura kept his head under some serious pressure, able to sweep around the final corner ahead and take the P2 he’d been threatening since qualifying. It’s his first ever podium, with Foggia crossing the line just behind the Japanese rider for his second rostrum finish in Grand Prix racing.
McPhee took fourth and more solid points, ahead of a disappointed Alonso Lopez after some solid pace at MotorLand. The Spaniard took one of his best finishes, however, and made a big step forward on his 2019 result at the track.
Misano winner Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) had another good race to bank some solid points in sixth, just behind Lopez and just ahead of Lopez’ teammate Sergio Garcia, who took his best Grand Prix result by far in P7. He was the last of the group fighting for top honours behind Canet.
Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) took eighth with a little breathing space ahead of Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), with the fight for tenth a little further back still. Over the line, it looked like Dalla Porta had won that battle, but the Championship leader once again ran afoul of track limits. He was demoted to P11, with that putting Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) up into the top ten.
Tatay, Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) completed the points.
Jaume Masia (WWR) crashed early on in the race, and the Spaniard was declared unfit for a right radius fracture.
Now it’s time for the paddock to pack up and head to pastures very new for the flyaways – with Buriram in Thailand next on the agenda. With the points gap back down to almost nothing, it’s sure to be another awesome showdown as Dalla Porta vs Canet reignites in two weeks.