Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took win number five of the season on home turf at MotorLand Aragon, picking off his rivals on the way to the front to make some serious gains as key contenders Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) finished off the podium. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) sliced through to second, and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) made it a Spanish trio on the podium at home as he led from the front before eventually crossing the line in third – his second podium in red.
Lorenzo took the holeshot from pole, shooting away into the lead and leaving Viñales to head the chasing group before teammate Valentino Rossi struck and set off after the Ducati in the lead. With the number 25 heading wide soon after, that let both Dovizioso and Marquez move past – and the front four were able to pull away.
Viñales was at the head of the second group and stalked by Pedrosa as Rossi was able to close in on the Ducati in the lead. As it remained impossible to call, Marquez attacked the ‘Doctor’ and headed too deep – even cutting up the inside of Lorenzo as he briefly shot into P1 and then into the run off. But the number 93 recovered quickly and made the move stick on the number 46 at the final corner, then able to duel past Lorenzo to take the lead and his fifth win of the year.
Pedrosa had taken Viñales at Turn 1 and was able to reel in Rossi and then Lorenzo with some signature stunning pace despite his second row start, with the Movistar Yamaha duo then left to fight it out for fourth. Hard racing didn’t give away a recently broken leg for Rossi, but Viñales was able to push his way past and at least limit the damage in the standings.
Just behind Rossi over the line, the fight for sixth was won by Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) at the venue where he took his first premier class podium, as the Spaniard impressively held off Dovizioso in the latter stages – who in turn defended seventh from Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) after struggling more in the latter stages of the race.
Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took ninth after a more difficult weekend including a trip through Q1, ahead of Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completing the top ten for the Austrian factory – making steady progress for another impressive result. Impressive was also an adjective for the man behind him, wildcard and teammate Mika Kallio, who took P11 after going straight through to Q2 on Saturday.
Motegi changed everything in 2016. Now the paddock returns to the Japanese venue after a very different season – but it’s Marquez ahead once again. With four races to go, however, it’s anyone’s game.
Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) increased his Championship lead and took his eighth win of the season in Round 14, but the Italian was forced to work hard for it by compatriot Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) in a spectacular last lap battle between the countrymen. Gradually reeling in the points leader, Pasini made it a duel to the line on the final lap, but Morbidelli was just able to take it – by 0.145 seconds. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took third after qualifying on pole, closing in on the duo at the front to see the flag only half a second back.
It was Oliveira who got the holeshot from his second pole of the season, but Morbidelli struck back at the end of the first lap and then began to disappear. Pasini then pulled it out the bag to get his head down and cut the gap, able to reach and then pass the Championship leader – but not escape. As the final lap dawned, it was wheel-to-wheel between the two, and with a little paint swapped. But Pasini couldn’t quite get close enough at the end of the back straight, and Morbidelli was able to beat him to the line. Oliveira, closing to within a tantalizing few tenths on the final lap, took third after another impressive weekend for the Portuguese rider.
Championship challenger Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) had a rare race off the podium, but nevertheless came home fourth for a good haul of points and some damage limitation – just beating a stunning rookie performance from Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Binder took his second successive top five in fifth, now gaining traction in his first year in the class after some big injury problems earlier in the year.
Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was another who impressed as a rookie, taking sixth and able to pull a few tenths away from veteran Italian Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) in the last laps. Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) did the reverse to close on the Italian – and crossed the line only 0.033 off.
Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) had a good battle with Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) until the rider from Cervera was forced to retire, and the German crossed the line in ninth to round out a good weekend. Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) completed the top ten, with the Italian getting the better of fellow rookie Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40).
Misano winner Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) crossed the line in twelfth, ahead of a duel for P13 between Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) and Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) – with the Italian coming out on top. Stefano Manzi (Sky Racing Team VR46) locked out the points scorers.
Now it’s time for Motegi – with everything still to play for, and attack mode very much turned on.
Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) made history in the Aragon GP, becoming the first rider since the introduction of Moto3™ in 2012 to win eight or more races in a season – also equaling Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) and Luis Salom’s all-time victory count with nine wins in the class. Almost neck and neck over the line with eventual runner up Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) and P3 finisher Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0), the Majorcan also increased his lead in the Championship once again – and once again did it in style.
It was polesitter Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) who took the holeshot off the line, with Bastianini for close company as they led field through Turn 1 and then began to pull away from the chasing pack. The ‘Beast’ was quick to strike for the lead, but the unfolding duel then saw the two caught by Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Mir. From a lead group of two, it then became a classic Moto3™ freight train as the field closed up once again.
With 6 laps to go, Mir hit the lead – before two laps later, Di Giananntonio made his first mark on the fight at the front, taking over in P1 from P14 on the grid. After some jostling for position as the laps counted down, it was ‘Diggia’ ahead over the line for the final lap – before Mir made his move and showed his cards to take over. The Majorcan led Di Giannantonio who led Bastianini as the trio were able to make a tiny gap to those on the chase – with some spectacular slipstreaming down the back straight as the three tousled it out approaching the final corner.
Neck and neck over the line, Mir just held on in the spectacular three-way photo finish, only 0.043 ahead of Di Giannantonio – with Bastianini only 0.008 further back to complete the podium in a race that broke records for the man on the top step. Mir is now equal on most wins in Moto3™ – nine – and now the rider to have won the most races in a season since the class was introduced in 2012.
Martin took fourth to head Canet over the line, with John McPhee (British Talent Team) taking sixth after moving through the group in the latter stages. Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate) moved up to seventh in a solid ride, just ahead of a stunning race for wildcard Dennis Foggia (Sky Junior Team VR46 Riders Academy). Foggia – the current FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship leader – qualified on the second row and repeated his impressive performance in the race to take P8.
Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) crossed the line in ninth a few tenths back, with Championship challenger Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) completing the top ten after a more difficult weekend to follow up his stunning win at Misano. Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) was just behind his compatriot and crossed the line in eleventh, with Juanfran Guevara (RBA BOE Racing Team) in P12.
Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) just beat Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) to the line for thirteenth, with Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team) bouncing back from a crash in qualifying to complete the points.
With a little more history rewritten, Mir now has one hand on the trophy as the paddock readies for the journey to Japan and the Twin Ring Motegi.
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