At the home circuit of Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, it was a clear blue sky - which is not what the current leader in the standings would have wanted.
Valentino Rossi held a 23-point lead over team-mate, Lorenzo going into this Grand Prix, with just five races to go until the end of the season. In front of a crowd of 67,122 at the Motorland Circuit in Aragon, Spain, it was the Spaniard that led the race from the start and lifted the trophy that he also co-designed. Completing the podium was compatriot Pedrosa and Rossi who battled intensely to the end, whilst two-times world champion Marc Marquez crashed out on the second lap trying to catch Lorenzo.
After his second win at the Spanish track, Lorenzo said: "As always I make a good start, my strategy was to ride at the maximum as Marc recovered some gap in the second lap, but when I saw on my board that he was out, I could breathe. When I had Dani at 2.7 seconds behind, I knew I needed to push all of the race to keep the distance. Before the race I thought I might take four or seven points from Vale, so I’m very happy to take nine. It’s not going to be easy but we will try right up to Valencia."
After dominating the practice sessions for the weekend, it was in fact Marquez in the end who won pole position, with Lorenzo and the Ducati of Andrea Iannone joining him on the front row.
Lorenzo got a perfect start, leading into the first corner and not being passed throughout. Marquez, whose title hopes now dashed, squirmed out of pole position but kept up with Lorenzo in the opening lap until after pushing too hard, he crashed out of turn 12 whilst trying to close the 0.487 second gap to the leader.
Pedrosa and Rossi began from fifth and sixth, both managing to catch and pass Iannone for second and third place whilst Lorenzo created a gap of 2.953 seconds after just four laps. With the Honda and Yamaha looking almost joined they were so close throughout the race, it was with five laps to go that Rossi made his move. Pedrosa immediately hit back and the crowd were on their feet as Rossi attempted to pass three more times, but each time the 5ft 2in Spaniard bolted back passed Rossi. On the last lap it looked like Rossi had managed to hold him off but four corners later, the Honda RC213V squeezed past, forcing Rossi to go off the track briefly and took the chequered flag for the second place.
Having suffered a tough start to the year, this was Pedrosa’s third podium of the season, he said: "It was really hard to keep the lap times and to close the door [on Rossi]. In many corners Rossi was faster, I was trying to not lose speed or give too much room. I knew in the last laps I had less grip and I could feel the engine of him behind, but it was a good battle and it was nice to finish in second today in front of the fans."
As Rossi took his 209th podium finish, albeit disappointed with the points his team-mate gained on him today, he said: "I try everything, Dani was able to overtake me in every corner. I’m happy because it a podium and it was a good race compared to the practices. Dani was very strong and very motivated and it was a good battle, unfortunately for me, Dani was stronger. I needed the points and it is still a good result. This was the best race I’ve had at Aragon. We are strong, we are competitive, we will fight to the end of the championship."
It was a great performance from the factory Ducati team as Iannone managed to kept his Ducati GP15 in the front runners at the start, whilst managing a dislocated shoulder, taking second place after Marquez's early departure, he then had Pedrosa and Rossi to deal with coming up from fourth and fifth places. Compatriot Andrea Dovizioso who qualified back in 13th place, battled up to seventh place within the first two laps then picking off the Tech 3 Yamaha of Bradley Smith and the Suzuki of Aleix Espargaro to then find his teammate in sight as he reached fifth place with just eight laps. Finishing in fourth and fifth places, it was a good result for the Italian duo.
For the British contingent, it was Cal Crutchlow who finished just ahead of Yamaha rider Bradley Smith in seventh place. Scott Redding finished in 12th place whilst Irishman Eugene Laverty who qualified in the fifth row for the first time, and finished in the points in 14th place.
In the first race of the day, championship leader and British rider Danny Kent qualified in third place whilst main challenger for the title Enea Bastianini, started from pole position. Neither finished however, as Brad Binder wiped out Bastianini early in the race and Kent high-sided in the last lap.
Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira won, for the third time this season. Jorge Navarro took the second step of the podium and Rossi’s Sky46 team rider Romano Fenati takes third place.
The Moto2 race was red-flagged when Dominique Aegerter and Xavier Simeon collided severly, both riders reported to be OK. Rins was leading before the race was cut short and after the restart, it was defending world champion Tito Rabat who won the victory with Rins close behind.
The next race takes place at Honda’s home ground of Motegi in Japan. Catch all the action on BT Sport2 HD, the main event begins at 6am Sunday 11th October.Reuse content