Photography by Gold & Goose
ALCAÑIZ, Spain (Sept. 29, 2013) – If Marc Marquez is to be the 2013 MotoGP World Champion, which is looking more and more inevitable, his run at Motorland Aragon will be looked upon as one of his best. The 20-year-old Spanish rookie survived an early battle with his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, which ultimately led to Pedrosa crashing out. He then had to close a fairly large gap enjoyed by early leader Jorge Lorenzo and after taking the lead Marquez brilliantly held off pressure of his championship rival.
In the end Marquez earned his sixth win of the year by 1.356 seconds over Lorenzo and as a result extended his championship lead to 39 points (278-239) with four races remaining. Pedrosa, with the crash is now 59 points back in third.
“Like normally the start was not so good,” said Marquez, who is attempting to become the first rookie to win the MotoGP championship since Kenny Roberts in 1978. “But then I was able on the first two corners to be quite aggressive because I know that Jorge will push in the beginning. And I lose just one, one-and-a-half second and that was not too much to try to recover. And then we were recovering step by step. Then when Dani overtake me, that is when I start to feel a little bit better with the bike. Before the back straight I nearly touch… I touch him a little bit and I go wide and so then he crashed too.
“Then Jorge take some meters. I try to recover the meters because I know that this race was important. And I pushed. I was at the limit many laps. When I catch Jorge I saw that he was like he wanted to brake to stop me a little bit, but I overtake him quiet quick and then I tried to open some gap.”
Valentino Rossi came through with a brilliant ride to third, having to fight off Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl in the closing laps.
Lorenzo, as he’s been doing of late, got a great start and gapped Marquez, Pedrosa, Rossi and the rest of the field on the first lap. Danilo Petrucci Luca Scassa and Michael Laverty all went down enter a tight left hander on the first lap. Damian Cudlin was an early retiree with an issue on his Paul Bird Motorsport CRT machine.
After establishing an early gap in the first two laps, the Honda pair of Marquez and Pedrosa. On lap four Pedrosa was the fastest man on the track and he was able to squeeze past his teammate to take over second. Pedrosa immediate began pressuring Lorenzo as the top three sped around the Aragon circuit in sweeping synchronization.
On a dramatic start to lap six, Marquez made on outside passing attempt on Pedrosa entering a left hander. The two touched with Marquez having to exit the track and run wide on an escape road. Simultaneously Pedrosa grabbed a handful of throttle, perhaps in an attempt to hold off Marquez, and the bike flicked and threw him off the high side. Honda said contact from Marquez broke a rear wheel sensor and caused Pedrosa's highside. Dani slid down the track on his hands and knees and appeared to be shaken up after the crash. Reports suggested a possible knee injury (he was later cleared by the track’s medical facility). Pedrosa’s bid at the 2013 title was for all intents and purposes over.
The fray between the Honda riders meant that Lorenzo gap over rival Marquez expended to 1.4 seconds.
Attention then turned to the four-rider battle for third with Rossi holding off Stefan Bradl, Cal Crutchlow and Alvaro Bautista. Rossi was attempting to earn his first podium since Laguna Seca, six races ago. On lap 12 Bautista got through on Crutchlow to take fifth.
In the middle stages of the race Marquez gradually chipped away at Lorenzo’s lead. With 10 laps to go Marquez was running nose to tail with the leader. Suddenly Marquez made his move and passed Lorenzo to take the lead for the first time in the turns 12-13 esses section. The crowd cheered their delight.
Once up front Marquez put an immediate gap on Lorenzo.
The odd thing was Lorenzo just looked back before Marquez made the pass, leading to some speculation that Lorenzo wanted Marquez to lead. Perhaps he wanted to challenge the rookie from behind and goad him into a mistake. Lorenzo stepped up the pressure with about five laps to go.
The battle for the final podium spot continue unabated for the entire way. Bautista took over third from Rossi with five laps remaining. With two to go Rossi, using his years of racecraft, moved back into third in an classic battle. Then Bradl moved through on the last lap on to temporarily take Bautista. The two Honda racers battle back and forth with Crutchlow right there with a great view. Their battle allowed Rossi to extend his lead in third giving him a popular podium result.
“At the end the battle was very hard,” said Rossi, who scored his fifth podium of the season. “Before I had Bradl, who was very close and then Bautista was very fast. He overtake me and take a little bit of a gap, but I was able to come back, overtake and I make the last lap very much at the limit, because I want to try to arrive on the podium. Also I have to keep attention because behind them was Cal Crutchlow, not so far. It’s always positive to be on the podium. It’s always a great result, but I expect a little bit more from the race. I want to go faster… closer to the top guys, because the weekend, especially for me yesterday it was not so bad. I decided for the hard tire for the front. Jorge and Marc have the soft and after some lap I was a lot in trouble with understeer and in braking. So I tried the maximum, but I wasn’t strong enough. This result is good for everybody – good for me and for the team and we will try next week in Malaysia.”
If the strategy was to pressure from behind, it didn’t work for the defending champ. With four laps to go Lorenzo shook his head as he crossed the finish line, conveying to his crew that he could not close the gap on Marquez - a worn front tire the culprit. In the end Marquez was free and extending his lead now to a nearly insurmountable margin.
“We tried to improve the bike in the warm-up,” said Lorenzo, who seemed to struggle with setup much of the weekend. “We thought that we got it, but finally we gained a little bit of turning… it was better turning, but on braking it was worse. So maybe that’s where I lose so much compared I think to Marc. I tried, like always, to open a gap at the beginning. But then when Marc recovered all the gap I just relaxed to save a little bit of energy. I tried to be with him at the end of the race, but really he was stronger during all the weekend and the race. I pushed to the limits to follow him, but it was impossible. No excuses. He was faster today and we have to think about the next race.”
American Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards had so-so weekends. Hayden lost out to Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso and finish ninth. That’s where the former World Champion sits in the series standings. Edwards just missed out on earning a championship point, taking 16th on the FTR Kawasaki.
Next up is the Malaysian Grand Prix on October 11-13.
Aragon MotoGP– Sept. 29, 2013
1. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 42m 3.459s
2. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 42m 4.815s
3. Valentino Rossi ITA Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 42m 16.386s
4. Alvaro Bautista ESP Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 42m 17.246s
5. Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) 42m 17.432s
6. Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 42m 18.121s
7. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 42m 34.679s
8. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (GP13) 42m 44.130s
9. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Team (GP13) 42m 56.872s
10. Andrea Iannone ITA Energy T.I. Pramac Racing (GP13) 42m 58.526s
11. Aleix Espargaro ESP Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 43m 1.460s
12. Yonny Hernandez COL Ignite Pramac Racing (GP13) 43m 8.972s
13. Randy De Puniet FRA Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 43m 10.048s
14. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki CRT) 43m 12.133s
15. Claudio Corti ITA NGM Forward Racing (FTR-Kawasaki CRT) 43m 12.589s
16. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (FTR-Kawasaki CRT) 43m 15.500s
17. Luca Scassa ITA Cardion AB Motoracing (ART CRT) 43m 48.611s
18. Bryan Staring AUS Go&Fun Honda Gresini (FTR-Honda CRT) 43m 48.687s
19. Lukas Pesek CZE Came IodaRacing Project (Suter-BMW CRT) 43m 49.042s
Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki CRT) DNF
Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) DNF
Damian Cudlin AUS Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART CRT) DNF
Danilo Petrucci ITA Came IodaRacing Project (Suter-BMW CRT) DNF
Michael Laverty GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (ART CRT) DNF