Felice Monteleone – FMPhotoSport MotoGP News
Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón Preview, Race Report, Monday September 28th 2015
Lorenzo: jaws out of the water to reduce Rossi’s championship advantage
Jorge Lorenzo takes his sixth win of the season at rain-free #AragonGP ahead of Dani Pedrosa and championship rival Valentino Rossi as Marc Marquez crashes out.
Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo rode brilliantly to secure his 60th career GP victory in front of 67,000 fans at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón. Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa was involved in an excellent fight with Rossi over the final few laps for the second step of the podium at MotorLand Aragon. Eventually Pedrosa would beat Rossi to the line by just a tenth of a second, while his teammate Marc Marquez crashed out of the race.
This means that Lorenzo has reduced Rossi’s advantage in the standings by 9 points to just 14 heading into the flyaway rounds, with just four races remaining. Movistar Yamaha’s first double podium since Brno saw them lift the team title for the first time since 2010.
There was drama at the start, as Marquez seemed to make a mistake allowing Lorenzo to lead into the first corner with Iannone in second, as the pole man dropped down to third. The Spaniard recovered to make a move on Iannone into second through the first few corners and set off after Lorenzo at the front.
Rossi, who knew he couldn’t let Lorenzo get away, started making his way through the field from sixth on the grid immediately, moving up to fifth at the end of the first lap at the expense of Pol Espargaro. The Italian was already two seconds behind Lorenzo in second.
Unbelievably, just as he was closing down Lorenzo at the front, Marquez lost the front at turn 12 and crashed out of the Aragon GP for the second year in a row. It was Marquez’s fifth DNF of the year – the most he has ever had in a World Championship season – which sees him now trail Rossi by 70 points in the standings with only 100 up for grabs.
Marquez‘s crash moved Iannone up into second, but not for long as Marquez’s teammate Pedrosa passed the Ducati man on the 3rd lap. All the while Lorenzo was looking untouchable at the front as he opened up a 2.4s lead by the end of lap 3.
Rossi knew he had to get a move on and he passed Iannone to move into 3rd on the 4th lap, although at this point he was lapping 0.3s a lap slower than Lorenzo as his teammate opened up a 3 second lead at the front. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Espargaro was involved in the battle for fourth with Iannone when he ran wide on lap 6 and dropped down to 11th.
By lap 8 both Pedrosa and Rossi started to lap faster than Lorenzo and the gap had been reduced to 2.6s. Lorenzo got the “hurry up” signal from his pit board and responded, managing his pace beautifully over the next few laps.
Further back through the field Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro had caught Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in sixth and was starting to attack, while Cal Crutchlow and Danilo Petrucci also started to close in on the duo in front of them. That was before Petrucci trailed the brakes too much into turn 14 with 13 laps to go and lost the front, leading to Petrucci’s first DNF since the Malaysian Grand Prix last year. Smith, Espargaro and Crutchlow caught up with Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso in fifth with 12 laps to go and an excellent battle ensued between the four riders. However Smith ran wide at turn 1 and dropped to the back of the group, undoing all of his hard work.
With 10 laps to go the gap at the front between Lorenzo and Pedrosa was up to 3.3s, with Rossi still hanging onto the back wheel of the Repsol Honda in third. Lorenzo was riding a simply brilliant race at the front, consistently running in the 1’48s and increasing his lead on every lap.
Rossi meanwhile, was starting to size up Pedrosa ahead of him in an effort to secure a vital extra 4 championship points by finishing in second. With 5 laps to go he made his first move in anger into turn 4 but Pedrosa immediately responded to re-take the Italian. Undeterred, Rossi tried it again into turn 1, but he couldn’t get it stopped and once more Pedrosa fought back as the two became embroiled in a spectacular duel over the final few laps.
On the penultimate lap, once again Rossi made a move under braking into turn 1, but once again he could not get his M1 stopped and couldn’t make it stick as Pedrosa showed incredible grit to fight back. It was shaping up for an epic final lap battle between the two and it didn’t disappoint, Rossi went past in turn 4, before Pedrosa stuffed it up the inside into turn 7. It seemed as though Pedrosa had second in the bag, before Rossi made an outrageous move through turn 15, but once more he couldn’t make it stick. The Italian sacrificing the drive onto the back straight in an effort to make the pass, meaning Pedrosa could power his way back past Rossi.
In an incredibly exciting finish Pedrosa managed to hold on through the final corner to take second by just nine-hundredths of a second from Rossi. All the while Lorenzo rode the perfect race at the front as he took his 39th premier class victory by over 2.6s.
It was Pedrosa’s 97th premier class podium, but only his third of the season and first since the German GP. Rossi claimed his 14th podium from just 15 races this season and the 209th in his illustrious GP career, although the damage done to his championship lead could prove to be costly in his bid for a tenth title.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone ended up in an excellent fourth despite having to ride through the pain due to the shoulder he re-dislocated earlier in the week. He crossed the line 16 seconds ahead of his teammate Andrea Dovizioso who finished in fifth after holding off the charging pack behind him.
Aleix Espargaro came out victorious in the battle for sixth, crossing the line ahead of Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith in a frantic dash to the line. Pol Espargaro managed to fight his way back into ninth, while Yonny Hernandez on the Octo Pramac Racing Ducati completed the top ten.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding finished in twelfth, while Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista crossed the line in 13th in his 100th GP. Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP Team) took his first Open victory in 14th as he beat his teammate Nicky Hayden to the line by less then a tenth of a second. Forward Racing’s Loris Baz was in 17th having earlier announced he will make the switch to the Avintia Racing team for 2016. Australian Jack Miller on the Open LCR Honda finished in 19th while there were crashes for Karel Abraham and Alex De Angelis.
All of this means that Rossi (263pts) saw his advantage over Lorenzo (249pts) in the MotoGP™ championship standings reduced by nine to just 14 points with four races remaining. Marquez (184pts) remains in third, but now he is only 8 points ahead of fourth placed Iannone.