Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo crossed the line to secure his first win of the season as Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa all crashed in mixed conditions at Aragon.
Rain hit the circuit this morning leaving damp conditions in North Eastern Spain and the threat of more rain ahead of the main race. As the lights went out for the 800th Grand Prix Pedrosa hit the front going into the first corner ahead of Andrea Iannone on the Pramac Ducati, who took the lead going into the third corner.
Despite his slower pace all weekend, Lorenzo was clearly determined to not let Marquez break away and he moved into second position on the first lap. It wasn’t long before championship leader Marquez took the lead in-front of his home fans however Iannone and Lorenzo were right on his tail. Becoming the first rider to succumb to the slippery astro turf on the edge of the track, Iannone ran on and crashed out of the race, at a terrifying speed.
By the third lap the front group were still together, with Rossi joining his team-mate in fourth. The Italian made a strong comeback from sixth on the grid and a tough weekend looking to have the pace to fight for a podium, however he ran off the track and lost control of his M1, causing him to have a terrifying crash which saw him out of the race. He is currently having precautionary head scans in hospital.
Marquez was then comfortably in the lead ahead of Lorenzo and Pedrosa as the threat of rain still loomed, with teams preparing bikes in pitlane. With nine laps to go the white flags were waved, indicating riders can go and change bikes as the Repsol Honda team-mates lead the way.
‘I pushed to the limit’ – Lorenzo
The rain became heavier with six laps to go and riders started to enter pit lane and swap to wet tyres with all eyes on the leading three. Two laps later and Lorenzo was the first to swap his bike, a decision that proved worthwhile in the end and he won the race by 10 seconds from Aleix Espargaro. “For a while I was losing touch with Dani and Marc because I didn’t feel great and I was being very careful not to crash as it was spitting. I thought ‘okay I’ll finish 3rd or 4th’ but when I saw that Marc and Dani didn’t go into the pits I thought ‘okay I’m going to play some poker’.
The first time I crossed the line I was in 12th but the next lap I saw I was in first position, and I didn’t want to crash and at the same time I didn’t want Aleix to catch me so I pushed to the limit.”
Just as Lorenzo entered the pits to change his bike, Pedrosa lost grip on the rear of his RC213V going into turn one as his slick tyres were unable to grip on the wet track. The Spaniard remounted and changed his bike, crossing the line in 14th position. Meanwhile his team-mate was still leading the race, risking it in awful conditions however he couldn’t hold onto the lead for much longer and Marquez lost the front of his Repsol Honda on lap three. He was also able to remount and change tyres, crossing the line in 13th position. Today’s result means Marquez now only has to finish in-front of Pedrosa at Motegi and he will be crowned champion.
Aleix Espargaro was the first rider to change to wet tyres and his gamble paid off as he secured the first Open Class podium for NGM Forward Racing, crossing the line in second position: “It is a fantastic feeling, we’ve been waiting a long time for this. We made a big change on the bike but I was last in the first laps so I tried to improve lap by lap. When I saw the rain, it was raining more on every lap and I was going slower and slower so I took the risk to be the first one to go in. I pushed with everything I have with the last 7 laps and finally the podium, this is a big trophy for us.”
It wasn’t only a big day for Espargaro, but Cal Crutchlow secured his first podium with Ducati in Spain, narrowly missing out on securing second position: “Obviously we got very lucky with the conditions but I don’t really care. I’m pleased with all the work the guys have done. It’s a great job by Ducati, they haven’t given up with me and I haven’t given up with them and that shows week in week out.”
Post first featured on paddockchatter.com; republished with permission