Marquez sees off Lorenzo in a tight race at Aragon
The flag bearing number 93 flies high in Spain after Marquez fends off a desperate Lorenzo to inch closer to his maiden world title
Today, the stage was set exactly like it had been for the previous two races: Marc Marquez on pole, with Jorge Lorenzo right behind him. It started off in similar fashion as well, with Lorenzo pulling out a stunning first lap to grab a lead of nearly a second by the time the first lap was completed. All of it looked very familiar, only today, the end result was to be the other way round.
Barring the spill involving Luca Scassa, Danilo Petrucci and Michael Laverty, the start of the race was largely uneventful. Lorenzo was doing his best to run away as far from the rest as he could, and both Repsol Hondas were on the chase, with Pedrosa looking in really good nick. So good, in fact, that he not only gained on Lorenzo, but also overtook Marquez really soon, and his intentions were crystal-clear: today was a day for business.
Marquez wasn't fazed, and as always, he pushed his bike right to the limit. On Lap 6, he got too close to Pedrosa's rear wheel, and grazed it momentarily. Before you could bat an eyelid, Pedrosa high-sided on his way out of the corner, while Marquez was lucky enough to have just run wide. The rook re-joined the action, while Dani was stretchered off the track. Towards the end of the race, team manager Livio Suppo confirmed that the little coming-together of the Hondas had rendered the traction control sensor on the back wheel of Pedrosa's bike useless. Call it a neat little birthday gift from his young colleague, perhaps?
This activity at the back handed #99 a lead in excess of 1.5secs, but Marquez ate into that gap steadily. With just eight laps to go, #93 swooped past Lorenzo under braking, and though the reigning world champion kept him in his sights till the end, he just couldn't catch up.
Pedrosa's loss was Rossi's gain - The Doctor slotted into third as soon as the Spaniard crashed out, but he had to contend with Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista for that last spot on the podium throughout the race. The action heated up in the closing moments, with Bautista briefly grabbing third, only for Rossi to take it back from him. VR46 had no trouble from him thereafter, as Bradl made Bautista work hard for that fourth-place-finish.
Sixth was about as high as Crutchlow could go, and his team-mate Bradley Smith followed him home in seventh. The two Ducatis finished eighth and ninth, ahead of Iannone, Espargaro and Hernandez, who provided excellent cover for Ben Spies on the Pramac Ducati. As a result, he'll be riding in place of Spies for the rest of the season.
You could almost see the frown on Lorenzo's face through his helmet as he rode back to parc ferme, and Pedrosa too looked sullen seated in the garage. And for good reason, too - MM93 now leads Lorenzo by 39 points, and Dani by 59. He's got one hand on the championship now, Marquez, and he only needs to finish somewhere on the podium (something he has managed to do at all venues this season bar Mugello) for the remaining four races to clinch the title. Lorenzo can, theoretically at least, grab 100 points in the next four, as can Pedrosa. Question is, will that be enough to deny Marquez a rookie MotoGP title, even if it does happen at all?
1. Marc Marquez
2. Jorge Lorenzo
3. Valentino Rossi
4. Alvaro Bautista
5. Stefan Bradl
6. Cal Crutchlow
7. Bradley Smith
8. Andrea Dovizioso
9. Nicky Hayden
10. Andrea Iannone
11. Aleix Espargaro
12. Yonny Hernandez
13. Randy De Puniet
14. Hiroshi Aoyama
15. Claudio Corti
16. Colin Edwards
17. Luca Scassa
18. Bryan Staring
19. Lukas Pesek
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