Honda rider Marc Marquez made an inspired last minute switch to run the harder option Michelin rear tyre at today’s Aragon Grand Prix, and was rewarded with a sixth win of the season to extend his championship advantage to 72 points, with five races remaining.
The fascinating race got off to a controversial start when polesitter and pre-race favourite Jorge Lorenzo crashed at the first corner. The Ducati man ran wide as Marquez dived underneath him and although the pair did not touch, Lorenzo was not slow in pointing the finger at the man who will be his team-mate at the Repsol Honda squad in 2019.
He said: “I’m really disappointed and very angry about what happened today, because I was sure I could have done a great race and fought for the win. I got a good start, but the line followed by Marquez, who braked late into the first corner, forced me to go wide and he blocked my line. To avoid being passed by the other riders I accelerated on the dirt, the rear of the bike spun away from me and I crashed. I think that Marc is not new to this sort of action: he doesn’t care about other riders and he knows it all too well. I don’t intend to speak with race direction and I only hope that this type of thing doesn’t happen again in the future. Now we have to see how long it will take to recover, because I’ve got a dislocated toe and another one broken, and I only hope I can be ready for Thailand. It’s a real pity to go away from Aragon with another zero and with an injury as well. I’m very sad and disappointed.”
With Lorenzo out, it was his Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso who made the running. The Italian had led a breakaway group with Marquez and the impressive Suzukis of Alex Rins and Andrea Iannone, hoping that Marquez’ tyre choice would backfire in the closing laps, but when the world champion took the lead three laps from home it was clear that his decision to run the largely untested tyre would pay off.
“I woke up this morning with the idea that today I could take a risk,” said Marquez. “I hadn’t felt totally at ease during the weekend with the hard rear spec tyre so, after the warm-up, I said to my team that I wanted to use the soft rear. That started many meetings and discussions but in the end I won the race because I could convince my box to take that gamble! In the end, it was the correct choice. I had a good start but soon after I almost lost the front in a dirty spot on the track, so I had to release the brakes and go a bit wide. I didn’t realize until the end that Lorenzo had crashed. Anyway, the fight was very tight with Dovi and Iannone as well; it was a hard fight but within the limit. This is MotoGP, and it’s what the fans enjoy to watch. Motorland is one of my favourite tracks, and I enjoyed so much riding here over the weekend even if the pressure was high, with events, people, and many things to do every day. I mean, it’s good but also demanding. Even with this, I managed to remain focused, work well with the team, and ultimately to stop Ducati’s momentum. Now more than ever it’s the moment to keep calm and manage well the race weekends because I want to win the championship and to do that you must remain fully concentrated.”
Iannone completed the podium for Suzuki, but Yamaha’s miserable run of form continued with neither Valentino Rossi or Maverick Vinales troubling the frontrunners, the pair finished eighth and tenth respectively.
Britain’s Cal Crutchlow crashed out of a promising position in the early stages. The Coventry born rider had been running just behind the leading group when he crashed going into turn one for the fifth time. Bradley Smith had a good run on the sole KTM, battling for 11thand coming home for a points’ scoring 13thplace. Scott Redding was 16thon his Aprilia.
The next round takes place in two weeks time, with MotoGP’s first ever visit to Thailand.