Today’s Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón proved to be the most action-filled race of the season so far, as Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo fought off his rivals to secure a hard-fought second place. Teammate Valentino Rossi also used his YZR-M1 to the fullest to fend off the competition and secured the fourth double podium of the season for the Factory Yamaha team.
Lorenzo didn’t let a crash in warm-up this morning hold him back in today’s race. The local hero had a brilliant start from third on the grid and fought for the holeshot with Marc Marquez. Maverick Viñales soon joined the fight for the front, beginning a Spanish duel that had the race fans on the edge of their seats. A flurry of activity followed that saw Lorenzo finish the first lap in third position, closely followed by his teammate. A mistake by Marquez two laps later made Lorenzo storm to second place and he continued to claw his way to Viñales, but he had to let his teammate past.
The top three riders briefly formed a leading group as they upped their pace, dropping low 1’49s laps. However, Marquez was closing in and with 17 laps remaining he found a way past Lorenzo, but the Mallorcan wasn’t fazed. He made his experience count and waited for the right moment to fight his way back to the front, which came with 14 laps to go when he didn’t need a second invitation to pass Viñales after the compatriot had gone wide.
Lorenzo cleverly continued his race in such a way that he still had enough rubber left on his Michelins to make a final charge five laps before the end of the race to smoothly take over second place. He was consistently stalked by Rossi, but he didn’t let it shake his confidence and held off the Italian’s attack to take second place over the line, 2.740s from first.
Teammate Rossi had a good start from his sixth place grid position and slotted into fourth place after turn 1, determined not to let the leading group out of his sight. With 21 laps to go, Marquez dropped back to fifth, allowing Rossi to take hold of a podium finish for the first time in the race, fuelling his ambitions even further. He hunted down his teammate and bided his time to make a move with 18 laps left, to close the gap to the race leader. He was the first rider to drop into the 1’48s as he reeled in Viñales and went on to take the lead of the race after a block pass in turn 4 with 15 laps to go.
The Doctor’s pace proved too hot for the Spaniard, who went wide in turn 1 a lap later, allowing Rossi some breathing space before Marquez made his move with 12 laps to go. Rossi wasn’t willing to let his rival go and put his head down, but he was unable to stick to the home rider and with five laps to go he put his attention towards his teammate, who pushed him back one place. The Doctor followed the fellow Yamaha rider like a shadow, but was unable to get past and took the chequered flag 5.983s behind the man in first place.
Lorenzo’s superb race craft delivers him 20 points. He remains in third position, now just 14 points behind his teammate in second. Rossi’s third place gives him a total of 196 points, now 52 points behind the championship leader.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP will next head to Japan in three weeks’ time for the Grand Prix of Japan, the first of the three overseas races.
Lorenzo: The crash was good!
“Sometimes a bad situation or a bad thing brings you a good thing and that’s what happened when I crashed. I got almost injured and was almost in pain, as has happened in the past, but this made me do two warming up laps, one with the hard tyre and one on the soft tyre. Finally on these two laps the hard tyre suddenly gave me a good confidence, even if I was warming up and very slow, so my instinct told me that I needed to change my race tyre to the hard one and this crash and bit of instinct for sure gave me the possibility to do this race the way I was riding it. I didn’t expect to finish on the podium, I thought I would finish maybe sixth or seventh, but finally the race was again surprising. It’s been a difficult weekend for me, but sometimes these kind of situations bring you to the top.”
Rossi: In Aragon, we always suffer
“We started with a different setting and we tried to be stronger towards the end of the race, but in the final stages I was spinning a lot, but I think everyone was in the same boat anyway. It’s a shame that with two laps to go I made a mistake in braking and I had to go wide. If not for that we could have fought for the second place, but anyway the podium is OK. I’m happy because it’s a good podium. Here, in Aragón, we always suffer a bit. It’s a shame and I’m not fully happy, because I wanted to arrive as the first of the Yamahas and in front of Lorenzo, but unfortunately in the second half of the race he was faster than me. It’s a shame, because I had some cards up my sleeve for the last laps, because I was there, but I made a mistake. I decided to go straight because else it would have been very dangerous for both of us. I lost the four points to Jorge, but it’s another podium. We hope we can improve and that we can be more competitive for the overseas races.”
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko