Though threatening with strong winds and the possibility of rain, the weather held out for MotoGP riders at the Aragon GP. As the Spanish track played host to the premier class of motorcycle racing, the Aragon GP proved to be a Honda affair during qualifying, as Casey Stoner took yet another pole position, while teammate Dani Pedrosa followed closely behind as second on the grid. With Jorge Lorenzo struggling at Motorland Aragon, Ben Spies carried the Yamaha banner to the front row, qualifying third on Saturday.
The first to break the six engine rule allotment (we should add, without a special dispensation) Valentino Rossi took his seventh motor of the season, and thus was relegated to starting from the pit lane, 10 seconds after the start of the Aragon GP. Perhaps the friendliest track to take such a manuvear, Ducati Corse is clearly not only thinking for the long-term of this season, but also for the 2012 season as well. How would starting from the rear affect the nine-time World Champion, and would Jorge Lorenzo continue his pursuit of Casey Stoner at Aragon? Find out after the jump.
Counting down from 10 seconds at the start of the race, Valentino Rossi had to wait for what surely seemed like an eternity to start the Aragon GP. Meanwhile leading the the charge into the first few corners, it was American Ben Spies on his Yamaha YZR-M1 who surprised the Repsol Honda duo. Taking Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner on the outside of Turn 1, Spies mounted a short-lived leadership in the race before moving backwards. With Stoner first passing Pedrosa, and later Spies, the Australian rider once again performed another check-out race once he was in the lead.
In fact, the battle at the front was fairly nonexistent, as Dani Pedrosa also rode an unchallenged ride to the second step on the podium. Early in the race, the battle for third was of hot contention, that is beofre Spies slowly drifted down the rankings after having troubles with his rear tire. Battling with Marco Simoncelli and teammate Jorge Lorenzo, SuperSic’s own mistakes cost him position on Spies, leaving the reigning-World Champion to make his move and take a comfortable third position with 10 laps remaining in the race. SuperSic would finally account for his errors with seven laps remaining, taking fourth place, while Spies finished a disappointing fifth.
While surely happy to podium at any race, Lorenzo’s third place finish, two places behind points leader Casey Stoner, all but assures his failure to defend the #1 plate in MotoGP. Now 44 points behind Stoner, Lorenzo will have to rely on a mistake from Stoner to win the Championship. As the Australian has been a pillar of consistency throughout the season, and the Honda RC213V nearly bulletproof, the chances for Lorenzo seeing such a race ending mistake from the Repsol Honda camp seems almost null & void, though we imagine there will be many good races from the Spaniard as he continues to race for pride in the series.
Despite the implications at the front of the race, perhaps the most exciting battle at the Aragon GP was the one for ninth, as a train of riders vied for position ahead of each other. Included in the group was Valentino Rossi, who despite starting from pit lane and 10 seconds behind the field, was able to catch the backmarkers. Finishing 10th, Rossi diced things up with Cal Crutchlow and Hiroshi Aoyama, as the two satellite riders would finish respectively ahead and behind of the factory Ducati rider.
Leaving that group only eight laps into the race was a very disappointed Toni Elias, who got rammed by Loris Capirossi while on the brakes. Elias had lead the pack for ninth for sometime, and found the pavement purely because of a mistake made by Capirex. Also crashing out were Karel Abraham and Andrea Dovizioso, both of whom crashing due to rider errors. While Dovi remained frustrated, but unhurt, the rookie Abraham had to be aided off the track after making contact with his tumbling Ducati Desmosedici.
MotoGP will hit the road now, with the Japanese GP at Motegi on October 2nd, the Australian GP at Phillip Island on October 16th, and the Malaysian GP on October 23rd. Once done on its road trip, the MotoGP paddock will return back to Europe for the last round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship, the Valencian GP on November 6th.
Race Results from the Aragon GP at Motorland Aragon, Spain:
|1||27||Casey STONER||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||-|
|2||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||+8.162|
|3||1||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||+14.209|
|4||58||Marco SIMONCELLI||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+20.646|
|5||11||Ben SPIES||USA||Yamaha Factory Racing||+27.739|
|6||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||+30.373|
|7||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||+34.288|
|8||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||+37.305|
|9||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+39.652|
|10||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Ducati Team||+39.832|
|11||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+39.997|
|12||14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Pramac Racing Team||+54.717|
|13||5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+58.430|
|24||Toni ELIAS||SPA||LCR Honda MotoGP||8 Laps|
|65||Loris CAPIROSSI||ITA||Pramac Racing Team||8 Laps|
|4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Repsol Honda Team||0 Lap|
|17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||0 Lap|
Source: MotoGP; Photo: Yamaha Racing