A sparkling ride by Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) at Aragon has produced his first 'dry' win since round three and extended his lead in the championship over Valentino Rossi to 52pts with four races remaining – including Australia on October 23.
The polesitting Spaniard was superb, hitting the lead early on before a front-end slide dropped him back to fifth position. He then settled and began picking his way back to the front, his final piece of handy climbing work on lap 12 when he passed Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) to take the lead.
He then steadily increased his lead to claim his fourth win of the year and move his tally of MotoGP™ wins along to 54 – the same number as Australia's five-time world champion Mick Doohan. Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo passed his teammate Rossi late in the piece to finish second, with early leader Maverick Vinales (Ecstar Suzuki) fourth from Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda).
“I’m very happy to have taken the win at a home Grand Prix, and one of my favourite races," said Marquez. "I was waiting for this GP, it was a ‘red point’ on the calendar for me, as I saw it as one where I wanted to attack and where I could win the race.
"It was an important victory, but nothing is finished yet. I said yesterday that something can always happen in a race, and it was a miracle that I didn’t crash today when I almost lost it in turn seven. That was when I decided to relax a little and go back to my mentality from practice of riding precisely and braking in the right places.
"All this made for a more entertaining race, with many overtaking moves at the start, and a second part in which I was able to open a gap to Valentino, which was important. He had gone several races gaining points on us, and we wanted to stop that trend, because otherwise it would boost his morale and perhaps create doubts for us."
After 14 rounds of 18, Marquez is now on 248pts from Rossi (196), Lorenzo (182), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda, 155) and Vinales (149).
Misano winner Pedrosa was sixth at Aragon, laboring with a front tyre that suffered unusual degradation, ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Ecstar Suzuki), Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Aprilia Team Gresini pair Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl.
Ducati Team's Andrea Dovizioso was a frontrunner in the early stages before fading to 11th at the end of the 23-lapper.
Dovi's teammate Andrea Iannone sat out the race with injury, as did Australia's Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda). Both will be back in action at the first of the three flyaway rounds in Japan from October 14-16.
Nicky Hayden's one-off return from WorldSBK to sub for Miller was a success for the 'Kentucky Kid', as he scored points in 15th despite never having ridden the bike or used the new-spec tyres and electronics.
- Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda, 41m57.678s
- Jorge Lorenzo, Movistar Yamaha, +2.837s
- Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha, +4.359s
DNS Jack Miller, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
Pole position: Marquez, 1m47.111s = 170.6km/h
Fastest lap: Marquez, 1m48.694s = 168.1km/h
Championship top 3
Marquez 248 • Rossi 196 • Lorenzo 182
Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini) took the most emphatic win of anyone at Aragon, as the Brit converted pole position into a dominant performance. Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Alex Marquez scored his first ever Moto2™ podium in second, just holding off teammate Franco Morbidelli.
“We worked really hard all weekend, making long runs in every practice session, so I was really confident for the race," said Lowes. "That’s why I tried to get to the front as soon as possible and make a god rhythm. Once I had a bit of a gap I just tried to relax and keep my pace.
"This makes a change compared to the last few races, we have shown a good level of competitiveness and it’s nice. Now we are 40pts behind the lead in the championship, so everything can happen and for sure we won’t give up. I feel good on the bike and we will take this confidence to Japan, where we will do our best."
While Lowes was doing the business out front, all eyes were on the two riders likely to battle it out for the title: Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) and world champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport).
Rins finished in sixth, two spots ahead of Zarco, and the gap between the pair is now just 1pt – in favour of Zarco – with four races remaining.
Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) was fourth from Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), while Misano victor Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing) split Rins and Zarco at the end of 21 laps.
Aussie Remy Gardner (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) showed good speed and finished in 19th place, crossing the line just 30 seconds behind Lowes.
"I wanted a little bit more but it wasn't too bad in the end," said Gardner. "I knew it would be a tough race and I got held up a bit by a couple of slower riders and couldn't bridge the gap to the next group.
"When I did catch them I'd burned the tyre and I had to push real hard to stay with them. It was a good fair race, consistent lap times and had a pretty nice final lap fight with Julian Simon."
- Sam Lowes, Federal Oil Gresini, 40m00.885s
- Alex Marquez Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS, +3.289s
- Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS, +3.321s
19. Remy Gardner, Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2, +30.341s
Pole position: Lowes, 1m52.207s = 161.4km/h
Fastest lap: Morbidelli, 1m53.672s = 160.8km/h
Championship top 3
Johann Zarco 202 • Alex Rins 201 • Lowes 162
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is the 2016 Moto3™ world champion, becoming the first South African to win the title.
Binder was sandwiched between his two main championship rivals – winner Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda) and third-placed Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Honda) – at the end of the 20-lap race, which was enough for him to clinch the world title with ridiculous ease.
“Right now it doesn’t feel real yet. The race was tough. It came down to the final lap," said Binder." I knew where I had to be and I gave it a try but I was so terrible in the last corner. Today we lost the battle but we won the war.”
The race saw up to 11 riders battling at the front at one stage before Binder, Bastianini, Navarro and Fabio Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Honda) broke clear in the final half dozen laps. From there, positional changes were aplenty before Navarro eventualy got the job done, with Binder losing the contest but taking home the ultimate prize.
Fabio Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Honda) was fourth, while Joan Mir (Leopard Racing KTM) led the next bunch of riders over the line.
- Jorge Navarro, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda, 39m56.973s
- Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Ajo, +0.030s
- Enea Bastianini, Gresini Racing Honda, +0.107s
Pole position: Bastianini, 1m58.293s = 154.5km/h
Fastest lap: Juanfran Guevara, RBA Racing Team KTM, 1m58.858s = 153.8km/h
Championship top 3
Binder 249 • Navarra 143 • Bastianini 139
Next round: Motegi, Japan, October 14-16