If it was Valentino Rossi at San Marino, Jorge Lorenzo did it at Aragon. Both belong to a celebrated class of MotoGP riders with a long list of past achievements. It was fitting that Rossi took the title in his native Italy, just as Lorenzo came on tops in his homeland Spain and incidentally, both Rossi and Lorenzo are Movistar Yamaha teammates. The last commonality in their victories had to do with the MotoGP champion Marc Marquez, whose bike crashed at San Marino and in Aragon, Marquez made the fatal error of continuing with same tyres, when he should have gone for a change on the rain-affected track. It was the first time in this MotoGP season that Marquez has lost two back-to-back races, though he is still way ahead of everyone in world championship with 292 points followed by teammate Dani Pedrosa, at a distant second with 217.
The final race at Aragon MotoGP was in sharp contrast to the performance of riders at the end of qualifying on Saturday, when Marquez took the pole in a dominant way. He beat the existing circuit record of 1:47.804 with a lap done in 1:47.187. On second place behind Marquez was teammate Dani Pedrosa, while other riders were relegated to the second tier finish. Pramac rider Andrea Iannone rode incredibly to secure third place, Pol Espargaro on Tech3 was fourth, Cal Crutchlow fifth, Valentino Rossi sixth, Jorge Lorenzo seventh; Stefan Bradl eighth, Andrea Dovizioso ninth and Aleix Espargaro tenth. After such satisfactory outcomes in the practice sessions, neither Marquez nor Pedrosa would have dreamt of what finally transpired on Sunday.
As the race began, Pramac Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, buoyed by his third place in practice session, succeeded in pushing himself in front of Marquez in the opening turns. Iannone thus had the company of regular lead-pack players soon after the start. But Iannone’s lead was short-lived as Marquez left him behind as the riders entered Lap 2. Though Iannone spiritedly attempted another push on subsequent corners, his luck ran out with his bike’s front end getting out of control. He tried to control but the bike ran off into the grass. He dropped the bike that went into a tumble and it was the end of the race for Iannone. Once Iannone left the field, the top tier of the riders included; Marquez, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi, Pol Espargaro, Andrea Dovizioso, Stefan Bradl, Crutchlow and Alvaro Bautista. Valentino Rossi was counting on his second successive win this season but he lost control of his bike on the approach to Turn 7 and suffered a high-side that sent him into the gravel trap. He was trying a wide arc around Pedrosa but couldn’t control himself and went down hard. He was taken away on a stretcher. It was later confirmed that the Movistar Yamaha rider suffered a concussion with a suspected loss of consciousness but from a neurological angle, he recovered pretty well. A brain CT scan confirmed that Rossi didn’t have any bleeding in the brain. With Iannone and Rossi out, the track battle continued and Marquez remained the leader for a number of laps, followed closely by Lorenzo and Pedrosa. On the back side, Dovizioso and Pol Espargaro battled for the fourth-place. After 8 laps, Lorenzo made his first move on Marquez and successfully overtook the champion. Lorenzo kept the lead for a couple of laps but with 12 laps to go, Marquez came back in front once again. At this point, it began raining but the riders didn’t stop. For the next 4 laps, it was cat-and-mouse tussle between Marquez and Lorenzo as the rain became more intense. At this point even Pedrosa entered the fray and he left Lorenzo to the third place. 8 laps remained now and riders did not pit for bike swaps despite the track having become quite wet. Aleix Espargaro was the first to pit for bike swap when 6 laps remained. At this point Marquez made a fatal error of continuing with the same set of tyres that served him well in dry track. Pedrosa did the same. But Lorenzo went to the pit with 4 laps remaining.
It was here that the race changed altogether. The Honda Repsol riders’ needless insistence on continuing without proper tyres proved disastrous for both. Pedrosa met with a crash and by the time he came out on new tyres, he had already slipped way down in the reckoning. Conditions finally took toll of Marquez too as his bike skidded into the gravel, after which it became too late for him to remedy the situation. With 2 laps remaining, Marquez had another bike with proper tyres, something he should have done much earlier. By this time, Lorenzo had already zoomed away to a huge lead over others and crossed the line 10 seconds ahead of Aleix Espargaro. Crutchlow finished third, Stefan Bradl fourth, Bradley Smith fifth and Pol Espargaro finished sixth. Bautista crossed the line in seventh, Hiroshi Aoyama was eighth, Nicky Hayden was ninth and Scott Redding took the tenth spot. By making crucial errors, Marquez and Pedrosa dropped to 13th and 14th places respectively.
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