Morbidelli vs Pasini – Aragon hosts a classic Moto2 duel
Two Italians go wheel-to-wheel for the win at the Aragon GP
MotoGP 2017 – Round 14 – Aragon Moto2 Race Report
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.
Franco Morbidelli – P1
“Nothing changed with my approach today, I raced as I always do, giving the maximum and this is what came out. I tried to push at the beginning and open a gap but then Pasini was closing fast and I had a decision to make. Stay calm and ride for the championship or fight. I kept fighting and went for the win so this victory gives me a lot of satisfaction.”
Miguel Oliveira closed to within a tantalizing few tenths on the final lap, finally taking third after another impressive weekend for the Portuguese rider.
Miguel Oliveira – P3
“It has been a very good and a very solid weekend. This podium is very important for us after not being able to score points at Misano. I felt very strong all weekend, but at the beginning of the race we lost some time that we weren’t able to recover later on. Anyway, overall it has been a very positive Grand Prix for us. Now we have three races in a row that I like a lot, where I usually get good results, so I will be very focused and we will give everything at Motegi.”
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.
“The pain was not the main problem it was that my leg was going to sleep because of the swelling in my hip and pressure on the sciatic nerve. Before the race I knew this could happen; I decided to try but it was not possible to finish the race in this condition. Now I need to recover and be ready for the next race in Japan.”
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.
Meanwhile, Remy Gardner endured a demanding afternoon but rode relentlessly in the 21 lap sprint to finish 20th. The young Australian began from 17th and after a tricky start, he remained focused and maintained a consistent pace. He set his fastest time on the final lap and now confidently looks on to the upcoming triple flyaway races.
Remy Gardner – P20
“Friday was a strange day. It was wet in the morning and then dry in the afternoon although there were still a few damp patches. Qualifying wasn’t bad. I got a clean lap and I managed to put it all together which was good. It wasn’t an amazing lap but I felt good for the race and definitely felt that the progress we have been making with the bike was continuing. In the race I made a decent start but got hit by Pons at turn one which forced me off track and then it was a case of just trying to recover. We made a change from our qualifying set-up which wasn’t the right direction. I lost so much time in the first lap and although I was able to close the gap to the top 15 it was hard to ride the bike. A hard race but I know we can do better. We have a test tomorrow so let’s see if we can find something to give us a step for the fly aways.”
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