Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa scored a fantastic one-two result at the Aragon Grand Prix.
The duo, starting from the second row of the grid, Marquez on a hard-hard Michelin tyre combination, Pedrosa on medium-medium, fought their way forward to take the squad’s seventh double podium of the season.
The race got off to a dramatic start, with poleman Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) quickly passed by the fast-starting Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team), as the Ducati man led into the first corner and took the race to the rest of the field.
The Ducati racer led for the next 15 of the 23-lap race, with Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) – who was returning to competitive racing action just 24-days after breaking his right leg in two places – all in close contention.
Lorenzo came under scrutiny from Marquez, before the reigning world champion made his move on lap-16. Once in the lead Marquez pushed all the way to the line and finished almost a second ahead of his nearest rival, a result that increased his championship lead to 16-points.
Pedrosa made his way from sixth on the grid – setting the fastest lap of the race in the process – to follow his team-mate home, and once he had created enough heat in the tyres he was able to produce fast laps and push his way towards the front of the field. Lorenzo made up the trio of riders on the podium as he steered his machine to third. The choice of Michelin compounds was certainly evident on the podium as soft, medium, and hard rear versions were used by the top-three collectively.
Pole-setter Viñales was the next across the line after the top-three, following a spirited fight with his team-mate Rossi. Sixth – and the first independent rider – went to Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), as he equalled his best result of the season so far. Dovizioso came home in seventh to consolidate his second position in the championship, with Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) in eighth. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took ninth and strengthened his lead in the Independent and Rookie of the Year title chases. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounded out the top-ten.
Marquez’s 60th career win is also his fifth this year and his ninth podium of the season (the seventh out of the last eight races), helping him to pull a small gap of 16 points over Andrea Dovizioso and 28 points over Maverick Viñales, his two closest pursuers in the title chase.
Marquez said: “I’m very very happy with this victory because it was a tough race. Yesterday I wasn’t feeling totally comfortable with the bike, and today I was struggling again except in the warm-up; I don’t really know why. Anyway, racing at one of my favourite tracks, close to my home and in front of my fans, gave me extra motivation. I pushed hard and in some corners I just clicked the off-button in my head, even if I crashed twice yesterday. I saw that Viñales and Dovi were struggling a bit and knew it was the moment to push, so I did.
“There were a few scary moments, once when I was trying to overtake Valentino; he was tighter in that corner than I was expecting, and to avoid a clash I released the brakes, only to realise that Lorenzo was right there. So I went off the track, and at that moment I cooled down a bit, even if I continued to try and close the gap. Once I passed Lorenzo, I had to keep going as I saw that Dani was coming very fast. Anyway, that’s the Marquez style. Of course it’s important to think of the championship, but the situation now requires that we give it everything. So we’ll try to continue with the same motivation and mentality race by race, giving our 100 per cent.”