Marc Marquez now has 16-point buffer over Dovizioso
Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo round out Aragon podium
Valentino Rossi races strongly to top five finish despite injury
Jack Miller 13th and moves past Redding in the MotoGP Championship
MotoGP 2017 – Round 14 – Aragon
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.
Marc Marquez – P1
“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 realize 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.”
Dani Pedrosa – P2
“Maybe if I could have overtaken Maverick a little bit earlier I would have had a better chance to fight for the win, but well, I’m still very happy with my race today! The goal was try and fight for the podium or the win, and we achieved that. So yes, I have some small regrets, but at the same time I couldn’t have done any better in the beginning as I was on the medium rear like Maverick and wasn’t able to pass him for a while. I also had to manage the tyre wear in order to be fast at the end, which I was. I wasn’t sure why we suddenly had some gap to recover to the front, as the others had more or less the same pace. Anyway, when I finally passed him, the gap was there, so I started pushing hard, made some good passes and a good recovery, and had a very strong race. I put a lot of passion into it, and this is good for me and the team.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P3
“It was a very tough race but we were able to manage it well, and in the end we scored an important podium finish. This third place has a much better flavour than the one at Jerez because we finished very close to the winner and we fought right until the very end. It’s a pity I wasn’t able to keep the same pace in the last seven laps, but to be competitive in the race we had no other choice but use the soft rear tyre even though we knew that in the last few laps the performance was going to drop. In any case it’s important to see that we’re continuing to make progress and that I’m getting better every race and so I’m sure my first win will come soon.”
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.
Maverick Viñales – P4
“The hard tyre was working really badly for us, especially on the first laps, but then it was working quite well at the end. Not so much in terms of grip, but it was improving lap by lap, but anyway it wasn’t enough. Folger used the medium tyre and said he had no grip, so it was really difficult to understand which tyre we could use. For other races it was quite clear, because we were able to do many laps on the tyres so we knew which way to go, but here it was very difficult. I tried to use the same tyre as the opponents. Normally Valentino has a good feeling with the tyres and pushes on the hard option. For the next races we will have to work even harder on the Friday. It’s important to keep pushing and working and keep our motivation high. We have to work even harder, though it’s difficult, and we’ll go to Japan to improve and we’ll try to be stronger.”
“I’m quite proud, because a week ago I didn’t know if I would be able to race. Achieving a start from the first row yesterday was already great, I was very happy. I knew I had to suffer in the second half of the race. I had some pain and we also suffered from the degradation of the tyre. The work continues after this race. The calendar works out well for me, I have two full weeks to train and improve my leg’s condition. After this we have Motegi, which is going to be very important, but we also have three races in a row. This will be very difficult for my leg, so I want to try to arrive in Motegi – maybe not at 100% – but quite fit.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Team Director
“The tyre choice played a big role in the outcome of today’s race. We only had limited time to try the different specs on the dry this weekend, so this made the decision quite difficult. Both riders decided to use the hard rear tyre option for durability reasons. Though they managed the tyre life by trying to ride as smoothly as possible, in the end the tyres still dropped. Furthermore, Maverick had difficulties getting heat into the tyre at the beginning. It was unfortunate that, by the time the tyre started working better, the gap had become too big for him to close, but I think we all got a thrill from his fight with Valentino. It is fantastic to see Vale already battling at the front in the race, just 24 days after his accident. He did a truly amazing job today and has consistently exceeded our expectations throughout the weekend. We look forward to seeing him race again in Motegi, when he has had time to further recover from his leg injury.”
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.
Aleix Espargaro – P6
“I think everyone had fun today. It is not often that so many riders are so close all the way to the chequered flag in MotoGP. It was a hard race, but I liked it. At a certain point, I thought that I might be able to have a go at fourth place with Valentino and Maverick, but when there were only a few laps left, they picked up their pace and I had to settle. I any case, I am satisfied with the sixth place finish, but especially with the gap behind the winner. We are improving constantly and we demonstrate that basically every weekend. Unfortunately, we have been lacking consistent race results. In any case, we still have four rounds to go on tracks that I really like, so I want to finish this season well.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P7
“It was a complicated weekend and my race was a tough one. At the start I tried to stay with the leading group, but unfortunately I didn’t have many cards to play: for sure not being able to do many laps on Friday complicated the situation because we knew this wasn’t an easy track for us and that we needed more time to work. I don’t think that opting for the soft rear tyre was a mistake, and the drop in performance towards the end of the race in my opinion is due to other factors, seeing as I was losing a lot in some parts of the track. Pity about my seventh place but, given the conditions, it was the best I could do today. There are still a lot of points at stake in the next four races and so we’ll try and make the best of the next opportunities.”
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.
Johann Zarco – P9
“The result is quite good, however, I expected to be stronger in the race with the used tyres, but eventually my opponents were fast too. I got a solid start yet the first few laps were a bit difficult. I tried my best to overtake but in the end, it was not the right opportunity and I lost a lot of positions because I almost crashed. After that, I got a solid feeling but I was limited by the front. This was not because of the tyre because even if it was a soft front, the technicians said that the rubber looked ok after the race. So it means that if I was limited, it was possible that the bike’s balance was not as perfect as I needed it to be to get close to the front. Nevertheless, I am happy about the race and it was another experience, plus good for the championship. I tried to do my best but to finish only 13 seconds back from the top guys is not so far. However, I missed something to stay with this leading group because when they overtook Kallio, they opened a gap and I don’t think I was strong enough then. Anyway, I will learn from it and I need to understand how to use this to be more competitive in the future. I want to improve myself so that I can set the bike up and provide the right information, and also be effective with the team so they can give me the fantastic feeling that you can usually have with the Yamaha.”
Pol Espargaro – P10
“It’s been a great day to get another top ten and just fourteen seconds from the top is amazing. The whole team has done such a good job to be competitive race by race and everyday at a new track it feels better. That is in part to the test team and Mika who today did a great start and then another strong race to be right on my tail. The championship has never been so tight at this level but Red Bull and KTM had the strength to come to this championship in 2017 and they are showing that they are in the hunt during this ultra competitive season. For me this is so impressive.”
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.
Mike Kallio – P11
“I think we can be satisfied with that! Of course I would’ve liked to be top ten but Pol got me towards the end of the race and I couldn’t quite follow him, but this is still great for our garage and KTM MotoGP team. Remember, this is still only the third race for me this year. I had the fast guys at the front in view at the halfway point of the race and the gap to the leaders was only seven seconds at that point; my lap times were comparable too to those guys so we are very happy to have this pace. We still need to find better rear tyre life for the second half of the race, but hey, if you can see the faces of the team in the garage and all the guys around me it’s brilliant. They’ve done such a great job this weekend with no mistakes so just like Austria, they’ve repeated that as we were 19 seconds back from first place then, and today we did the same.”
Andrea Iannone was the top finishing Suzuki rider in 12th while teammate Alex Rins brought the GSV-R home in 17th place.
Andrea Iannone – P12
“It has not been a really positive race in terms of the final result because we came here to achieve better results. On the other hand, this weekend we struggled less than in the other recent grands prix and I hope this might be a nice restart for Suzuki, the team, and myself. The most positive aspect is that together we are looking to improve, to reduce the gap with our rivals, and solve some of our problems. I would like to thank Suzuki for their efforts and the work they are doing and I hope that within a short time we will get to where we want to be. In any case I’m happy with our performance we even with the difficulties.”
Jack Miller finished 13th, the same as his starting position, to take him to 56 points and 12th overall in the MotoGP World Championship standings. With track temperatures rising Miller started the race on a hard compound rear tyre but was never in a position to challenge for his target of a top ten finish.
“While I am reasonably happy with the way things went today this wasn’t the race I expected even though I came home with some points. I used the hard tyre and expected a little bit more from it but it didn’t work out that way. Overall a positive weekend and I’m feeling really comfortable with the bike, especially the front. We just missed some drive grip on the rear which was down to not making the hard compound work early enough.”
Cal Crutchlow slid out of the race whilst involved in a comeback battle with Johann Zarco. The LCR Honda man had made a decent start to proceedings, riding with the main group in the early laps before a moment under braking ran him wide at turn one. He rejoined the race and was making up positions again, getting back to ninth place. The Brit was unable to adjust his front brake lever because of the cast he is still wearing on his injured left index finger, and ultimately that cost him as he lost the front for a second time at turn 14.
Cal Crutchlow – DNF
“I didn’t have a great feeling with my front brake lever, simply because I couldn’t adjust it with my finger. The front brake temperature was really hot at the end of the back straight because I was tucked the slipstream, then when I got to turn one the lever was really far out and I couldn’t adjust it because the front straight isn’t long enough and I couldn’t take my hand off the handlebar. I made a mistake under braking because the lever was far away and as soon as I grabbed the brake I locked the front and ran wide, which was unfortunate. Then I got back on the track and recovered well, and I thought I might be able to come back across to the group. When I was riding alone I felt better. Then I made a mistake when I passed Johann into turn 14. I had to take evasive action because I had to pass him quite late – I hadn’t actually planned to make the move – then I lost the front. It was always the risk with the hard front tyre we chose. It’s disappointing end, but not so bad a weekend overall. The positive to take from this is that we were competitive yet again.”
The MotoGP paddock now prepares for the gruelling three-week fly-away tour, as the championship first heads to Motegi in Japan on Sunday 15th October, before embarking on a trip to the southern hemisphere and Australia the following weekend and then returning for a race in Malaysia the next Sunday. These three races will certainly go a long way towards deciding the title chase, but with only 56-points covering the top-five and a maximum of 100-points available, it is still a close race.
MotoGP 2017 – Round 14 – Aragon Race Results
MARQUEZ Marc SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 42’06.816
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