With potential for a new world champion, raceday arrived at Aragon with a mixture of excitement and anticipation.
Pre-race, Leopard announced that Danny Kent would join Miguel Oliveira in their new Moto2 team for 2016, with Andrea Locatelli joining Fabio Quartararo and newbie Joan Mir in Moto3.
|Moto3 Front Five Rows|
|1||Enea Bastianini||2||Miguel Oliveira||3||Danny Kent|
|4||Jorge Martin||5||Jorge Navarro||6||Niccolo Antonelli|
|7||Alexis Masbou||8||Efren Vasquez||9||Philipp Oettl|
|10||Romano Fenati||11||Brad Binder||12||Jakub Kornfeil|
|13||Karel Hanika||14||John McPhee||15||Livio Loi|
At the start, Oliveira made the best start, taking the lead through the early corners. Bastianini was fast though, retaking the lead soon after. Martin leapfrogged Kent at the start, then took second from Oliveira. Kent had fallen down to sixth by the halfway point of the lap, losing another spot by the final turn. Oliveira took the lead back at the start of lap two, before both Bastianini and Martin went back through a couple of turns later. Brad Binder made early progress, up to fifth from 11th. Kent kept going backwards, dropping to eighth.
Bastianini surrendered the lead on lap three, falling as far as fourth before taking two places back, with Antonelli joining the party at the front. Kent took a place back from Navarro. Martin started to drop, down to sixth behind Binder and Fenati. Antonelli took the lead a lap later going into the final turn of lap five, although the whole group was backing up, creating some dangerous looking corner lines. Vasquez and Oettl had joined the group, making it a leading ten, with Vasquez getting past his team mate for seventh.
Fenati then made his case, hitting the front ahead of Antonelli and Oliveira. Kent went from eighth to fourth to seventh all in one corner, making fifth stick later in the lap before then picking off Antonelli for fourth. Navarro made a big move too to follow through into third, before then losing it to Kent, who then took second from Fenati, closely following Oliveira in front before throwing it inside the Portuguese rider to take the lead, losing out on the back straight before regaining the lead at turn one the following lap. John McPhee had made good progress - moving to 11th after falling to 18th early in the race.
The same happened later in the same lap - Oliveira went past Kent on the slipstream, as did Antonelli, and it was the Rivacold rider who took the lead. Navarro and Bastianini traded fourth, Oliveira hit the front, and Kent and Antonelli traded second. Navarro then took second from Kent briefly, while Bastianini dropped to sixth, then jumped back up to fourth before pushing Kent out of third for a couple of corners. Oliveira was consistently setting the pace at the front, though - or at least he was until Kent took the lead. Further back, Andrea Migno, Francesco Bagnaia and the Saxoprint bikes were leading a hell of a battle - Maria Herrera found herself in 14th when two bikes went down behind her - Isaac Viñales and Darryn Binder. Karel Hanika was out soon after with a big high side.
At the front, Oliveira had reclaimed the lead, ahead of Bastianini and Navarro, Kent sitting in fourth comfortably behind the front three. Herrera took 13th, briefly before dropping back to 15th. Kent then used the slipstream at the end of the lap to hit the front with five laps left, Oliveira just fending off Bastianini for a couple of turns. He later took the lead again, catching Kent out - which allowed Bastianini to take second. Navarro and Fenati also went past Kent, the Brit seemingly shaken by the loss of momentum. He picked it back up later the next lap, throwing it inside Bastianini down the corkscrew in a stunning move.
Binder suddenly found himself second, slipstreaming Navarro and immediately tailing Oliveira. It forced the leader to run wide, Binder hitting the front with Kent following him into second, before dropping back behind Oliveira and Fenati until taking third back. Bastianini jumped Navarro into fourth, then diving inside Kent for third, before losing it on the back straight.
Last lap, Kent outbraked himself at turn one and nearly dropped his bike, just holding on. Oliveira retook the lead from Binder, but Bastianini looked fast. Fenati took fourth from Kent, then massive drama! Bastianini clipped the back of Binder, the South African fell, and Bastianini tripped over him.
At the last turn, Kent lost the rear end in a big off. Absolute madness.
Oliveira took the flag, and the deserved victory. Navarro claimed second, and Fenati picked up the pieces to grab third. Oettl claimed a surprising fifth, Alexis Masbou ended up eighth, and Herrera 14th.
|1||Miguel Oliveira||Red Bull KTM||39:54.343||25|
|2||Jorge Navarro||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||+0.193||20|
|3||Romano Fenati||Sky VR46 KTM||+1.505||16|
|4||Efren Vasquez||Leopard Honda||+1.792||13|
|5||Philipp Oettl||Schedl GP||+2.466||11|
|6||Niccolo Antonelli||Ongetta Rivacold||+4.903||10|
|7||Jorge Martin||Mapfre Mahindra||+6.512||9|
|8||Alexis Masbou||Saxoprint RTG||+15.746||8|
|9||Hiroki Ono||Leopard Honda||+15.775||7|
|10||Andrea Migno||Sky VR46 KTM||+15.884||6|
|11||Francesco Bagnaia||Mapfre Mahindra||+16.260||5|
|12||Stefano Manzi||San Carlo Team Italia||+16.354||4|
|13||Jakub Kornfeil||Drive M7 SIC||+16.849||3|
|15||Livio Loi||RW Racing||+17.125||1|
|Moto2 Front Five Rows|
|1||Tito Rabat||2||Alex Rins||3||Johann Zarco|
|4||Sam Lowes||5||Takaaki Nakagami||6||Alex Marquez|
|7||Jonas Folger||8||Thomas Luthi||9||Axel Pons|
|10||Sandro Cortese||11||Simone Corsi||12||Lorenzo Baldassarri|
|13||Hafizh Syahrin||14||Dominique Aegerter||15||Mika Kallio|
Looking to take the world title, Zarco a sluggish start, with polesitter Rabat breaking away. Lowes made a good start, jumping from fourth to second. Nakagami went past Zarco briefly into fourth, with Rins in third until Lowes pushed ahead of Tito and the Spaniard ran wide The Brit hit the front, and Rins followed into second before taking the lead at the last corner. Alex Marquez then took fourth from Zarco as Xavier Simeon and Aegerter crashed out, Simeon tripping up Aegerter's back end. Simone Corsi made a good start, sitting fifth. At this point, the race got red-flagged due to Aegerter staying down post-crash.
The race was reduced to a 2/3 race distance, and the grid returned to qualifying positions.
At the second start, another good start from Rabat was matched by Rins, with Lowes and Folger beating Zarco to the punch again. Rins took the lead at turn four, and started to set a strong pace. Simone Corsi somehow managed to jump to fifth ahead of Zarco, with the champion-in-waiting clearly holding others up behind him and garnering strong attention from Alex Marquez, the reigning Moto3 champion taking sixth later on lap two. Luis Salom crashed out at turn eight, holding a painful-looking right arm, around the same time as Xavier Simeon left the track for the second time in half an hour. Luthi also took a place from Zarco, the Frenchman looking completely off the pace.
At the front, Rins was being kept honest by Rabat, with Lowes getting the same attention from Folger. Corsi seemed to disappear from the timings, with Marquez up into fifth. At near half-distance Rabat took the lead, after spending a couple of laps losing the gap. Hafizh Syahrin briefly took seventh from Zarco, slipping back shortly afterwards. Marquez crashed out of fifth with 6 laps left.
Roles had reversed at this point - Rins was now keeping Rabat on his toes. Lowes had managed to gap Folger though, 1.5 seconds ahead. Zarco was despatched by Syahrin, as Rins was keeping very close to the rear of Rabat.
Last lap, Tito kept parking the bike where Rins may have tried to pass. Every corner, Rabat kept blocking the passing places. Rins was fast though, and briefly took the lead before Rabat used the line on a flip-flop to regain.
Onto the back straight, Rins found the drag but had to break earlier, and Rabat held on for the win. Lowes came home third, with Folger riding a mature fourth. Luthi came fifth, with Zarco managing damage limitation in sixth. Two top-ten finishes for the Forward boys, Corsi in ninth and Baldassarri in 10th, with Mika Kallio on his new QMMF bike coming 11th.
|1||Tito Rabat||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||26:25.125||25|
|2||Alex Rins||Paginas Amarillas HP40||+0.096||20|
|3||Sam Lowes||Speed Up||+5.364||16|
|9||Simone Corsi||Forward Racing||+18.658||7|
|10||Lorenzo Baldassarri||Forward Racing||+19.656||6|
|13||Sandro Cortese||Dynavolt Intact||+21.043||3|
|15||Marcel Schrotter||Tech 3||+26.017||1|
Post-race, it was confirmed by his team boss that Rabat would be riding in MotoGP next year, more than likely on Scott Redding's EG Marc VDS Honda.
|MotoGP Front Five Rows|
|1||Marc Marquez||2||Jorge Lorenzo||3||Andrea Iannone|
|4||Pol Espargaro||5||Dani Pedrosa||6||Valentino Rossi|
|7||Aleix Espargaro||8||Cal Crutchlow||9||Danilo Petrucci|
|10||Bradley Smith||11||Yonny Hernandez||12||Maverick Viñales|
|13||Andrea Dovizioso||14||Scott Redding||15||Eugene Laverty|
After a storming 1:46 in qualifying, Marquez was primed to throw the title picture wide open again.
Pre-race note: Toni Elias was on the Forward Yamaha. The guy is an unbelievable rider, and it's always fun to watch him on a bike. Loris Baz was also announced as joining Avintia in 2016. Oh, and Vale and Jorge nearly knocked each other off in the pits during warm up.
Marquez made a good start, but Lorenzo's was better. He led into turn one, and Iannone forced his way into second for half a lap before Marquez took second back. Pedrosa ran in fourth, ahead of Rossi and the two Espargaros. Dovizioso made eighth from 13th, with Smith and Crutchlow rounding out the top ten.
Lap two, Marquez dropped it trying to chase Lorenzo, losing the front end and his faint title hopes.
Pedrosa moved past Iannone and inherited second from his team mate's misfortune. Rossi was looking interested behind Iannone, making the pass on lap four, with the others already tailing off behind. At the front, Lorenzo was already 2.7 seconds ahead. Iannone was losing ground to Pedrosa and Rossi, with Dovi and Aleix closing on him. Pol found himself in 10th, a place behind the in-form Danilo Petrucci. Scott Redding made early ground by moving up to 12th, one place ahead of Stefan Bradl, who was ahead of his team mate Alvaro Bautista. Nicky Hayden led the open class bikes in 15th.
Alex De Angelis retired from 23rd after a brief tussle with Elias. Laverty took the open class lead by taking 14th (ahead of Maverick Viñales and Bautista), while at the front Lorenzo was maintaining a 2.8 second gap to Pedrosa. Further back, Smith and Aleix were both chasing fifth, but taking chunks out of each other. Crutchlow and Petrucci were looking interested, if slightly comfortable, in eighth and ninth - or at least Petrucci was until he dropped it at turn 14.
Karel Abraham retired at around half distance, clearly still suffering with his injured foot and almost unable to get off his bike. Smith dropped down to eighth after running wide while chasing Dovi. Redding was running quickly in 11th, closing on Yonny Hernandez and comfortably ahead of Bradl.
With five laps left, after lots of following, Rossi cut under Pedrosa, but couldn't make it stick, having to sit up and let Pedrosa go back through. Rossi kept on his tail though, with a very fast game of chess going on. The next lap, Rossi made the same move, and Dani put the same return on him, and again two turns later. Finally, a race at the front of the GP field. Classic Rossi, vintage Pedrosa. Dani often gets overlooked due to his more successful team mates, but he's a hell of a rider.
The same happened on the next lap, Rossi outbraked Pedrosa but Dani cut back under. Lorenzo was oblivious to this, but he was three seconds up the road and doing his usual time trial consistency. Iannone couldn't get anywhere near the podium, and the chasing group were all keeping each other honest.
It was all about Pedrosa and Rossi on the last lap though. Turn four, Rossi made the move and made it stick - at least for three turns until Pedrosa sneaked so far up the inside Rossi's knee was almost on Pedrosa's tyre. Later in the lap, Dani ran wide, Rossi took advantage, but Dani got a better run out and somehow kept second. By this point, Lorenzo was over the line. Iannone ran a good assured fourth, ahead of his team mate Dovizioso, Aleix, Crutchlow, Smith, Pol, and Hernandez in 10th. Laverty finished as the top open class rider in 15th.
|1||Jorge Lorenzo||Movistar Yamaha||41:44.933||25|
|2||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||+2.683||20|
|3||Valentino Rossi||Movistar Yamaha||+2.773||16|
|6||Aleix Espargaro||Suzuki Ecstar||+24.829||10|
|7||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||+25.367||9|
|8||Bradley Smith||Tech 3 Yamaha||+25.503||8|
|9||Pol Espargaro||Tech 3 Yamaha||+26.452||7|
|10||Yonny Hernandez||Pramac Ducati||+43.889||6|
|11||Maverick Viñales||Suzuki Ecstar||+44.255||5|
|12||Scott Redding||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||+48.176||4|
|13||Alvaro Bautista||Aprilia Gresini||+49.755||3|
|14||Eugene Laverty||Aspar Honda||+50.271||2|
|15||Nicky Hayden||Aspar Honda||+50.364||1|
Rossi's lead at the top is reduced to 14 points by Lorenzo's win. Dani Pedrosa has done Jorge a big favour.
|MotoGP Championship Top 5|
|#||Rider||Team||Ov. Pts||Pts Today|
|1||Valentino Rossi||Movistar Yamaha||263||16|
|2||Jorge Lorenzo||Movistar Yamaha||249||25|
|3||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda||184||0|
|5||Bradley Smith||Tech 3 Yamaha||143||8|
Congratulations to Johann Zarco on becoming th....not quite. The lead is now down to 76 points, but it would take something truly catastrophic to stop him now. Rabat is now 22 points ahead of Rins in third, so that might be quite interesting to watch. Lowes retakes fourth from Luthi.
|Moto2 Championship Top 5|
|#||Rider||Team||Ov. Pts||Pts Today|
|2||Tito Rabat||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||206||25|
|3||Alex Rins||Paginas Amarillas HP40||184||20|
After the last lap shenanigans, it's as you were at the top. Kent's remit remains the same - don't lose 56 points to Bastianini in the next four races and he is world champion.
|Moto3 Championship Top 5|
|#||Rider||Team||Ov. Pts||Pts Today|
|1||Danny Kent||Leopard Honda||234||0|
|2||Enea Bastianini||Gresini Honda||179||0|
|3||Miguel Oliveira||Red Bull KTM||159||25|
|4||Romano Fenati||Sky VR46 KTM||155||16|
|5||Niccolo Antonelli||Ongetta Rivacold||136||10|
Ride Of The Day
Jorge Lorenzo was very impressive in setting the pace and sticking to it. Tito Rabat recovered well from the poor first start to claim the Moto2 win, while Miguel Oliveira battled well to claim the Moto3 win. It was great to see the return of the real Dani Pedrosa though. Lovely stuff.
Next Time Out
It's the welcome return of silly o'clock racing, and a trip to the manufacturers' homeland in Japan. Motegi is fun. See you in two weeks.