On his 200th GP start, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) decimated his competitors to claim victory at the Gran Premio Michelin de Aragon. The Spaniard led from start to finish as a fierce podium battle raged behind, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) completing the rostrum.
Plan A was executed to perfection for Marquez from pole position. A lightning start saw the number 93 beat Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) 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 end of the lap, Marquez was a second down the road.
There was drama on the opening lap for the fast-starting Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), the Spaniard got a bit too excited at Turn 12 as he collided with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT). The latter crashed out with Rins dropping to P17. 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 quickly becoming a battle for the remaining podium places.
In that battle, Miller was holding off the Yamahas of Viñales and Quartararo. Viñales got the better of the Frenchman and immediately reeled in Miller’s half-second advantage, before passing the Australian on Lap 8 as the riders inside the top seven bunched up. Dovizioso was up behind Quartararo, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) holding off Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) in sixth and seventh.
Lap 9 saw Dovi power past Quartararo’s Yamaha as the Italian now locked his radar onto the back of fellow GP19 rider Miller, with Viñales holding the gap to Miller at just below a second. Marquez was over four seconds clear and with nine to go, Dovi made his move on Miller at Turn 1. The Pramac rider wasn’t going to cave in easy though, Miller hooked himself onto the back of Dovi as the duo then started to haul in Viñales ever so slightly. The trio was split by just a second heading into the last handful of laps and with Viñales’ hard-rear tire starting to fade – and with the Yamaha’s top speed disadvantage down the straight – the Spaniard was under pressure.
Three to go: Viñales was still holding onto P2. However, with just three laps remaining, the red Desmosedici was all over Viñales like a rash. Heading onto the back straight, the story was written – Dovi used the Ducati grunt to make Viñales look like he was standing still as Dovi grabbed P2. Now, Miller smelt a podium. Into Turn 1 on the last lap, Miller went for it. Up the inside of Viñales, the Ducati man just about got it stopped and P3 was his. But could he hold onto it around Yamahas favored first and second sectors? He could. Dovi had second wrapped up and coming onto the back straight for the final time, there was nothing more Viñales could do.
Marquez rolled over the line, catching the 25 points he was after as the number 93 now takes a 98 point lead to Thailand – the Championship will be his if we wins there at the beginning of October. Dovi crossed the line to take a brilliant P2 having starting from 10th, with Miller earning his third podium of the season. Viñales was left disappointed with fourth but it was a valiant effort nonetheless as the number 12 again had a strong showing throughout the weekend.
Quartararo had a quiet race to finish just over three seconds off Viñales in fifth. That was the rookie’s aim pre-race though and another top five is certainly nothing to be upset by. Crutchlow produced a good ride to finish P6 for the third time in four races, the British rider just edging out Espargaro – a sterling effort from the Aprilia man to secure his best result of the season.
Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was in the battle for the top five in the early stages, but the nine-time World Champion dropped back soon after to have a lonely race in Aragon. P8 went the way of ‘The Doctor’, with Rins fighting back to P9 after his opening lap incident, with then handed him a long lap penalty. LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Takaaki Nakagami won an intense battle for the top 10 which saw himself, Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Ducati Team’s Danilo Petrucci, Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) finish within two seconds of each other – the latter experiencing problems in the opening exchanges. Tito Rabat (Reale Avinita Racing) took the final point in P15.
So, it’s match point to Marquez. Win in Buriram and the seven-time Champion becomes an eight-time Champion. Dovizioso isn’t going down without a fight though and, if we harp our minds back to last year, the duo went head-to-head for Thai GP glory. More of the same on October 5 please!
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder produced a flawless ride at the Gran Premio Michelin de Aragon to secure his second win of 2019. Jorge Navarro (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) claimed his fourth second of the season to get the better of Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), as there was first lap drama for Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40).
After a magnificent getaway, Binder grabbed the holeshot ahead of Marquez and Fernandez to lead the way, with Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) also getting a great start to launch himself into P2. Binder wasn’t hanging about on the opening lap 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 remounted but his hopes of a third win on the spin had ended.
At 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 setting two consecutive fastest laps to get past Lüthi and onto the tailpipes of the riders in P2 and P3, with Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) now starting to close in on the top quintet. With Marquez and Marini swapping paint, Binder was racing clear as his lead reached the two second mark on Lap 11. That lap saw slight contact between Marini and Marquez at Turn 5, with an eager Navarro running wide at Turn 12.
On Lap 12, Marquez went for a pass on Marini at Turn 1 once more. The two were deep but with Turn 2 being a right-hander, the Italian held position but the Championship leader then put a daring move up the inside at Turn 4 – and executed it to perfection. The Spaniard was now in the driving seat to close the leading KTM down, with Navarro then following Marquez through a lap later at Turn 12. Then, Binder’s lead started to deteriorate. Two seconds became 1.5 seconds and with five laps remaining, the gap was down to just over a second. Marquez had Navarro nipping at his heels like a Jack Russell as the pair were showing better pace than Binder, but the South African was keeping his cool out front.
With three to go, Navarro pounced at Turn 1. A super-tidy move into the hard braking zone now saw Navarro with the bit between his teeth as he set his sights on a first Moto2™ victory. At this point, with Fernandez scoring zero points, Marquez was seemingly happy to take third – and rightly so. However, Navarro wasn’t happy with P2. There was no way the Spaniard was going to let Binder have the win without a fight and the Speed Up was closing. With two to go the gap dipped below a second and with Binder running wide at Turn 16 on the penultimate lap, Binder had just a 0.4 cushion over Navarro heading onto the last lap. However, Binder wasn’t fazed and when Navarro was slightly deep at Turn 8, it looked like it was done and dusted. And it was when Navarro got the rear lit up on the exit of Turn 15 – down the straight they came and it was Binder who rounded the final corner to take a sensational victory. Navarro climbed above Fernandez into second in the Championship, but Marquez was the biggest winner. 38 points is now the Spaniard’s advantage over Navarro heading to Thailand.
Marini held onto P4 despite late pressure from Lowes who takes his second consecutive P5. Lüthi couldn’t keep tabs on the top five in the latter stages as the Swiss rider takes P6 away from Aragon, he now sits just two points behind Fernandez and six off Navarro in the overall standings. American Racing KTM’s Iker Lecuona takes a P7 at his home Grand Prix, this the Spaniard’s 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 10 at their home race.
After a superb Aragon GP, it’s advantage Marquez heading into the final five races of the season. Navarro now takes over as his main rival from Fernandez, as Thailand awaits. Will we witness more drama in Buriram? Binder will be hoping to notch up victory number three...
Immaculate Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) swung the 2019 Moto3 World Championship pendulum in his favor with a lights-to-flag victory at MotorLand Aragon, in the process gaining a mammoth twenty points on series leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing).
Spaniard Canet had dominated qualifying by a seven tenths of a second margin and showed similar speed on raceday, impressively managing to break from the pack on lap six. From there he gradually pulled out a four and a half second gap to the rest of the field, the largest advantage seen at the checkered flag so far this season.
Ai Ogura had a far tougher task defending his second position grid slot, the 18-year-old from Japan dropping back as far as sixth at one stage before scrapping back through to head the chasing peleton. The Honda Team Asia rider held second for ten of the last fifteen laps but Dennis Foggia, impressive from eleventh on the grid, was determined to make the place his own with an aggressive turn four move on the final lap. Ogura kept his cool in the slipstream down the backstraight to cut back through down the inside into turn sixteen, a move that secured him a first World Championship podium
17-year-old Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0), looking for his first top-three finish, was determined throughout the race: fighting his way through quickly from sixth to second on the opening lap and even leading briefly on lap two. But he found himself boxed in on the final turn whilst attempting to follow Ogura past Foggia, missed the apex and was relegated to fifth behind John McPhee (Estrella Galicia 0,0).
Four of the top five in the Championship coming into Aragón missed out on major points. British Grand Prix winner Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) suffered a turn five fall and suffered his fifth scoreless ride of the campaign; he and Niccolo Antonelli have now both been passed by John McPhee in the Standings overall.
Meanwhile Italians Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) found themselves scrapping it out for just tenth. Dalla Porta started just twelfth, dropped to fifteenth on lap one, and even found himself outside of the points altogether at one stage before salvaging a place in the lead group. Arbolino took tenth after Dalla Porta was penalied for a track limits violation on the final lap, reducing his now-slender series lead down by another point to just two.
Moto3 has already provided ten different winners this season, so with five Rounds remaining there could well be more twists in store for the Championship contenders even if two riders have emerged clear of the pack overall.