Jorge Lorenzo defied both his rivals and the changing weather to deliver a master class in Grand Prix riding.
Today’s Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón proved to be the most dramatic of the season so far as Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo defied both his rivals and the changing weather to deliver a master class in Grand Prix riding and claim his first victory of the season.
Teammate Valentino Rossi’s Aragón fortunes were the mirror opposite, the Italian crashing out in the early laps.
With a dry start to the race, Lorenzo was one of the few to opt for the soft front medium rear tyre combination and made a jump of three places to fourth in the opening corners. Third was to follow quickly and then a promotion to second as front runner Andrea Iannone became one of the first of many to crash out.
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.
Lorenzo tucked in behind race leader Marc Marquez, beginning the Spanish duel that race fans had been waiting for. Never more than half a second apart, it wasn’t until there were just 15 laps remaining that Lorenzo made his move through the uphill section of the circuit for the lead. Three laps later Marquez was back through, passing into turn one.
One lap later and the weather became another rival to face on track as the white flag was waved. With some drops of rain falling riders were now clear to change to wet bikes if wanted. The lead group stayed out and with 9 laps remaining Lorenzo mirrored Marquez’ earlier pass, re-taking the lead into turn one.
A lap later and with the track getting damper in places, Lorenzo slowed and both Marquez and Dani Pedrosa passed in the uphill series of corners. With rain now clearly evident the front three played a dangerous gamble, not wanting to allow the others to get away by pitting. With four laps to go Lorenzo made his move, diving in to change for his wet bike and returning immediately to the track. In the meantime, Pedrosa had crashed out in the start straight, promoting Lorenzo to second.
Race leader Marquez opted not to pit and a lap later also fell victim to the wet, crashing out and leaving Lorenzo with a clear run to the finish line and his first victory of the season.
Valentino Rossi was taken to medical centre
Teammate Rossi had started well from his sixth place grid position and had been making progress when he ran wide in the down hill section, running off track and onto the slippery grass where he crashed heavily. He lost consciousness briefly after the crash but regained it quickly and was taken immediately to the medical centre for a check up. There appears to be no injuries however he has now transferred to hospital for a precautionary check up.
Lorenzo’s superb race craft delivers the maximum 25 points. He remains in fourth position, now just 12 points behind his teammate in third. Rossi’s DNF means he stays on 214 points, now three behind Pedrosa in second.
Jorge Lorenzo (1st / 44'20.406 / 23 laps): “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.”
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director: “This was an impressive race, Jorge made no mistakes. He took the right decision at the right moment to change the bike and he chose the right tyre for the dry also at the start of the race. All in all he made a perfect race and took a well-deserved victory. His decisions were very well made. Vale was riding very well up to his crash, it’s a pity because after his out lap he said the changes we made were perfect and he felt the bike was working well.
We are not clear yet on the cause of the crash but he was clearly riding with potential to finish on the podium. Fortunately he seems to be fine and has been taken to the hospital as a precautionary check up following an initial check at the medical centre. I need to thank the team who worked hard from Friday where we were struggling to find solutions to bring us to a highly competitive level today.”
Michele Zasa - Clinica Mobile Medical Director: “Valentino suffered a concussion with a suspected loss of consciousness. From a neurological point of view he has recovered very well. He was taken to hospital in Alcaniz to make a further check, in particular a CT scan of the skull that has ruled out any bleeding in the brain. As a precaution he will be observed in the coming hours, but there are no special reasons for concern.”
Wet weather fails to dampen Smith’s blaze to fifth
Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Bradley Smith rode a superbly executed race whilst battling the challenging wet conditions to brilliantly land fifth position at the Motorland Aragon circuit today. The British star began the race which was initially dry, from 11th on the grid as he looked to surge through the field straight away and make a charge for the leading bikes. However Smith had to undertake evasive action to avoid colliding with another rider which caused him to slip down to 20th at the end of the first lap.
Yet, the 23 year old rider composed himself and rapidly made amends as he reached 11th by lap five after firmly setting into a solid and consistent race pace. With 14 laps to go, Smith was running in tenth and closing down the riders in front before breezing past Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista to seize eighth as the rain began to fall. On lap 18 he made the decision to enter the pits to swap to his bike with the wet setup and then climbed back up to seventh on the 20th lap.
I tried to take some aggressive passes at the beginning and actually hit the back of someone, who I think was Valentino at turn five, which sat me up.
Following this, the British rider proceeded to overthrow his teammate on lap 22 to clinch fifth and brilliantly stormed to the chequered flag in this position to equal his best finish in MotoGP. In addition, Smith overtook a colossal fifteen riders from the end of the first lap in what was an impressive showing of pure determination aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Pol Espargaro persevered through the difficult weather conditions to finish right behind his teammate in sixth position. The young Spanish rider who ran strongly all weekend continued his hot streak of form in the 23 lap race which he began from the head of the second row in fourth. He bolted forward and completed the opening lap in fifth position as he ran right behind the factory MotoGP riders.
The Spaniard remained focused and by the third lap he was running in fourth as he became locked into a battle with Andrea Dovizioso. The rookie unfortunately ran wide during the eighth lap and was moved back to seventh as he fought the challenging circuit but showed complete resolve to move back up to fifth by the lap 12.
With four laps remaining as the rain was falling stronger, Espargaro swapped to his wet bike to then reclaim fifth shortly after pitting. As the end got closer he held off Alvaro Bautista to finish sixth at the chequered flag in what was another strong performance for the premier class rookie.
Bradley Smith (5th / +29.483 / 23 laps): “It was a great result today and I accomplished my ambition of getting into the top five although the conditions may have helped me in achieving this. It was a tough race and I could have finished even higher still had I not dropped back to 20th on the first lap. I tried to take some aggressive passes at the beginning and actually hit the back of someone, who I think was Valentino at turn five, which sat me up.
I then had a speed wobble coming over the sweeping left uphill corner and I was going to possibly clip another rider in front but ended up 20th. I made the decision to pit at the same time as Cal, so I think a podium could have been possible for me, but I must say congratulations to him for the result. As for me, I am pleased to get fifth and I’ve got to say thank you to the team for the work they have done this weekend. Now I look forward to the upcoming flyaway races where I will once again be doing my best to get into the top six.”
Pol Espargaro (6th / +29.686 / 23 laps): “I really can't hide how disappointed I am as it is the third time this year that we have been incredibly unlucky with the weather conditions. In Assen we were fast for the entire weekend and sitting right on the starting grid when the rain arrived and then the same happened two weeks later in Germany. Here we at least managed to show a strong first half of the race, but unfortunately I made a mistake and while I was catching up on Andrea to regain fourth position it started to rain again.
I decided to copy the strategy of the more experienced riders in front of me but that clearly wasn’t the right choice as we lost a lot of time. It's truly frustrating, as with just a few more dry minutes we would have ended the weekend in a completely different manner. However, that's racing and we will try again in Japan in a couple of weeks of time.”
NGM Forward Racing rider Aleix Espargaro claimed his first podium finish this season in front of his home crowd at Aragon Grand Prix and his first ever podium in career in the MotoGP class.
Aleix Espargaro rode a perfect race in difficult race conditions, bringing his Forward Yamaha home in second position. The Spaniard will be remembered as the first rider on the MotoGP podium with an Open bike. Aleix was very good at staying calm when Smith touched him at turn three at the beginning of the race, obliging him to go wide and recovering, lap after lap, from the back to the sixth position.
It was a difficult race, made more complicated by Smith who touched me at the beginning of the race,
Started with slick tyres, Aleix managed the race perfectly when it started to rain. With seven laps to go, he was the first to decide to enter the pits to change bike. He did it one lap before all the other riders and this was the key of the success of this incredible race that saw him second at the finish line behind Jorge Lorenzo and in front of Cal Crutchlow.
It was a very good race also for teammate Alex De Angelis, who finished in 12th position, earning important points for the championship. After two days of practices on dry conditions, Alex adapted quickly to the wet conditions in the warm up. With the race declared dry, Alex took the start with the slick tyres and he then entered the pits to change bike. Heartened by this result, Alex looks very confident for the Japan GP in two weeks time.
With todays’ result, Aleix Espargaro is sixth in the world championship with 112 points.
Aleix Espargaro (2nd / +10.295 / 23 laps): “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 sixth, with seven 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!”
Alex De Angelis (12th / +1'00.718 / 23 laps): “It was a difficult race but very positive. This is my third race in MotoGP this year and I had to face different situations for the first time. Today we started with dry conditions but it started to rain and it was increasing lap after lap. I had to enter the pits to change the bike and this was the first time for me in race conditions. It was a bit of mess, but all in all I’m very satisfied. I could fight with the open bikes and we improved. This was our target and we met it. I’d like to congratulate Aleix and his team for his great second place.”