Movistar Yamaha rider wins as Open class Espargaro takes second ahead of Crutchlow
Jorge Lorenzo sealed his first MotoGP race win of the 2014 championship at today’s Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón with the Movistar Yamaha rider using all his experience to seal the victory while Open class rider Aleix Espargaro took a sensational second place for the NGM Forward Racing team and Cal Crutchlow taking brilliant third place for the Ducati Team. Lorenzo’s super smooth riding style paid dividends today in a race that was turned on its head with less than one third of the 23 lap distance to go when rain began to fall leading to a number of riders taking gambles that ultimately wouldn’t pay out, the two biggest losers being Repsol Honda teammates Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Having this victory is a great relief for me after so many months of challenges and fights.
The race began under cool but dry conditions with ominous grey skies with Pedrosa leaping into the lead ahead of Marquez and Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone who had a great start and took the lead for a short period. Iannone’s fortunes were to run out very quickly however, when he lost traction from his rear wheel forcing the Italian rider to run off track and lose the front of the bike, which was then heavily damaged. There was also big misfortune for seven times MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi when the Movistar Yamaha man crashed out after having to take avoiding action with the Italian nearly running into the back of Pedrosa on just lap 3. Following Rossi’s crash, the frontrunners were then left with a big gap back to Andrea Dovizioso for the Ducati Team.
Mammoth effort from Lorenzo to stay with Marquez
Lorenzo and Marquez then began what was to become a fascinating battle for the following 8 laps with Marquez first leading then Lorenzo making a mammoth effort on his YZR-M1 to make what was the first of multiple passes for the lead while Pedrosa maintained a watching brief close behind in third place. The race was then turned on its head when first white flags began to be waved giving the riders the option to change to wet set-up bikes and then rain flags began to be waved.
Many of the riders took a gamble to stay out for a few laps as the mild drizzle wasn’t affecting conditions that badly but that was to change within a few laps with Espargaro the first man to take decision to pit and he was quickly followed by a barrage of other riders while Lorenzo took the decision to stay out a lap later while Marquez and Pedrosa seemed to take the decision to push to the end on their slick tires.
Slick tire gamble fails to pay off for Repsol Honda teammates
That gamble by Pedrosa and Marquez was to prove the wrong one with both riders slowing right off the pace before Pedrosa became the first to fall victim to the wet track conditions before Marquez then lost the front end of his machine and both riders were lucky enough to remount to pit in and change their machines. There was also bad luck for Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso who also took the gamble to stay out on slicks and then crashing out of the race.
When Lorenzo inherited the lead he made the most of his wet weather tires and pushed all he could while Espargaro and Crutchlow emerged in second and third with both riders over 10 seconds behind the leader. There was a terrific battle on the final lap with Crutchlow and Espargaro who managed to hold off a last corner assault by the British rider to secure a sensational second place. Marquez and Pedrosa managed to salvage some points at the end in 13th and 14th places respectively.
Lorenzo thrilled with maiden win of 2014 championship
Reflecting on the hectic pace of today's race, Lorenzo was happy he pitted when he did saying, "It's been a very crazy race, because we won at a track where we’ve never won and we’ve had a lot of problems all weekend. I made a really good start, my first lap was very good and I kept at the wheel of Marc. The bike was working very well and Marc was a little bit slower than in practice so I could stay with him and I passed him one or two times. The problem was it was spitting, so I didn't have much confidence, I was very careful and the others were going away in front. Andrea was catching me and I thought I was going to be fighting for third or fourth position. But finally I had an intuition; every lap I felt the spotting was coming worse and it was very dangerous and easy to crash.
When I saw Marc and Dani keeping on racing and without going into the pits in the last corner, I said ok, I will take a risk and enter. I changed the bike, the new tyres were very difficult to warm up, not so much grip but I tried to be very focused and not make many mistakes. When I passed the board on the straight I was in fourth position so I thought we are going to finish very far but then the next lap I was first! I was surprised; I didn't expect to be first. Having this victory is a great relief for me after so many months of challenges and fights so I’m very proud," Lorenzo added.
Espargaro ecstatic with first MotoGP podium
Espargaro was thrilled with his first MotoGP podium after making a mammoth effort to work his way through the field. Speaking afterwards he said, “It’s my first podium in MotoGP and this is an incredible feeling. We have worked hard throughout the season to get this result and I want to thank the NGM Forward Racing Team and my family that has always supported me. It was a difficult race, made more complicated by Smith who touched me at the beginning of the race, obliging me to recover from the 19th position.
When I was 6th, with 7 laps to go, I took the risk to be the first rider to enter the pits to change bike, as it was raining a lot. It was a perfect strategy. In the last lap I heard Cal catching me, he touched me on the straight but I could defend my second position. It’s an extraordinary result and I’m going to party till Japan GP!” Espargaro added.
Despite being gifted the final spot on the podium, it wasn’t going to stop Crutchlow from enjoying his rostrum finish. He said, “Obviously we got very lucky with the conditions, but it was the same for everyone so I don’t really care! I am pleased with the work that the guys have done, we are in better shape than what we were, even in the dry. A great job by Ducati, they haven’t given up with me and I haven’t given up with them and I think that shows week in and week out, even when the results haven’t been good. I got a wheelie coming out of the last corner because I hit the white paint, and I probably would have got Aleix on the line for second if I had been able to change gear in time!”