MotoGP – Aragon win moves Marquez one step closer to third world title

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has taken a stunning maiden win at MotorLand Aragon to extend his championship lead ahead, bringing his career tally to 54 wins and equaling Australian legend Mick Doohanin the all-time standings.

After a scuffle off the line through Turns 1 and 2 at a dry but cool MotorLand Aragon, it was Suzuki rider Maverick Viñales who emerged from the melee to turn his front row start into the early lead in the race. With the front group close all the way down through the top ten, Marquez soon struck to take the lead before a wobble through Turn 7 saw the championship leader drop back into the group slightly, down to P5

The lead began to stretch for Silverstone winner Viñales, before Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi hooked on to the back of the Suzuki rider and began probing for  a way past, finally making a clever but aggressive move to take the lead with 15 laps to go. Viñales, pushing to find an immediate response, then ran wide and let Marquez through, and with reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo then on the scene, the front group divided into two duels.

Marquez looked menacing and quickly closed Rossi down, making his move on the inside on the ‘Aragon Corkscrew’ and making it stick. The Spaniard eked out a gap, and with the Doctor struggling to match the pace of the Honda, Lorenzo sensed blood and upped his game. The Movistar Yamahas then tussled for P2, with Lorenzo looking much quicker than his team-mate. The pressure was ultimately too much for the Italian, who ran wide, and Lorenzo ducked inside to take second place.

But nobody could catch Marquez, who crossed the line in first to return to the top spot of the podium at a Spanish race for the first time since the 2014 finale in Valencia.

The Spaniard said: “I’m very happy to have taken the win at a home Grand Prix, and one of my favourite races. I was waiting for this GP, it was a ‘red point’ on the calendar for me, as I saw it as one where I wanted to attack and where I could win the race. It was an important victory, but nothing is finished yet. I said yesterday that something can always happen in a race, and it was a miracle that I didn’t crash today when I almost lost it in turn 7. That was when I decided to relax a little and go back to my mentality from practice of riding precisely and braking in the right places.

“All this made for a more entertaining race, with many overtaking moves at the start, and a second part in which I was able to open a gap to Valentino, which was important. He had gone several races gaining points on us, and we wanted to stop that trend, because otherwise it would boost his morale and perhaps create doubts for us. Now we leave Aragón with a larger advantage and more convinced ahead of the flyaways.”

Lorenzo crossed the line in second, with Rossi finishing third. The result was a missed opportunity for Rossi to close on title leader Marquez, dropping nine points on the championship leader taking the win.

Mention must also go to former world champion Nicky Hayden, who was deputising for the injured Jack Miller on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda and claimed a single world championship point, despite never having ridden the bike, tyres or electronics.

The land of the rising sun is the next stop for the 2016 MotoGP World Championship, as the Twin Ring Motegi beckons Marquez, who is now 52 points clear at the top of the standings, back to the scene of his 2014 title win.

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