The last two races have followed a familiar pattern. On Friday and Saturday, Jorge Lorenzo has laid down a scorching pace, which his rivals – and more importantly, his teammate and rival for the 2015 MotoGP title, Valentino Rossi – have been unable to follow.
Lorenzo’s name was penciled onto the winner’s trophy, and his grip on the MotoGP class looked secure.
Then on Sunday, everything changed. The weather gods intervened, rain lashed down at Silverstone, then started and stopped at Misano, throwing the race into disarray. Both times, Valentino Rossi handled the conditions better than Lorenzo, gaining big points in both races.
At Silverstone, Rossi won comfortably, while Jorge Lorenzo struggled home in fourth. At Misano, Rossi rode a tactically poor race, but still managed to come home in fifth. Lorenzo got caught out by the pace of Scott Redding, failing to understand that the Marc VDS rider had already been out for several laps and had his tires up to temperature and his brain up to speed.
The Movistar Yamaha rider tried to stay with Redding, and paid the price when he turned left after a long series of rights, crashing out and scoring zero points.
What do we have at Aragon? Another weekend where Lorenzo is dominating, Marc Márquez his only clear rival, with Dani Pedrosa there as a dark horse.
Valentino Rossi, meanwhile, is struggling with tire degradation, the performance of the tires dropping in the heat. Rossi could lose a big handful of points to Lorenzo on Sunday, if he is unable to match the pace of the top three.
He really needs a bit of a miracle, either in the shape of rain, or in the form of colder temperatures.
Marc Marquez set a new lap record of 1’46.635 to claim pole position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Aragon.
Jorge Lorenzo was only just behind Marc Marquez, in 2nd place.
Andrea Iannone battled through the pain of a dislocated shoulder to take the final place on the front row.
When your first name is Maverick, you surely have heard every Top Gun joke there is to make, especially by the time you are 20-years-old.
Just in case he hit the brakes, and watched them fly right by, we couldn’t help but serve up a couple more for Maverick Viñales, thanks in large part to his media event with the Spanish Air Force. Talk to me Goose.
Feeling the need for speed at the
Danger Zone Zaragoza Air Base, near the Motorland Aragon circuit in Northern Spain, Viñales was treated to a tour of the facility and a flight aboard one of the Ejército del Aire’s F/A-18 Hornets.
Ecstar Suzuki teammate Aleix Espargaro was unfortunately not at the event, but is quoted as saying that once he got back to the track, Maverick could be his wingman anytime.
While we aren’t sure if the pattern was too full for fly-by, rumors of a shirtless volleyball 1980’s video montage are so far completely unfounded.
This is probably the coolest pre-event MotoGP media event ever, and after the jump we have a bunch of high-resolution shots from it, Ice…Man.
What’s the value of testing? Judging by Jorge Lorenzo’s time on Friday – a second under the race lap record, and three tenths off the outright lap record – you would have to say that it’s good at least for a day’s worth of practice.
The Movistar Yamahas came to the Motorland Aragon circuit having tested here twice, once after Barcelona, once before Misano. The test in September allowed them to find a strong set up for this weekend, one which works well, as Lorenzo’s blistering lap time in the afternoon showed so clearly.
Though Lorenzo set his time, as Valentino Rossi put it, in “a real time attack, 100%,” it was one lap in a series of four, three of which were quicker than anyone else. It was perhaps not so much an early attempt at a qualifying lap as it was simulating the start of the race.
Jorge Lorenzo dominated FP1 & FP2, and finished over half a second ahead of the rest of the field.
Valentino Rossi was 2nd at the end of the first day at Motorland Aragon.
Bradley Smith finished 3rd to complete a Yamaha clean sweep of the provisional front row.
Thursday Summary at Aragon: Being Fastest vs. Finishing First, And Advice for Young Riders from a Moto2 Champion
When different riders agree on a subject, it is worth listening. Summing up the 2015 championship, both Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso independently came to the same conclusion.
When asked in the press conference who was stronger, Valentino Rossi or Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Márquez explained that it wasn’t as simple as that.
“It’s difficult to say,” Márquez said. “If you ask me, I would say Jorge is faster because his speed is really good. On the other side, Valentino is doing his 100% and he always finishes in front these last two races.”
Earlier in the day, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso had been asked if he could become one of the wild cards which could help decide the championship.
“In a normal situation, it’s quite difficult. But not impossible,” Dovizioso replied. But the championship was far from decided, Dovizioso went on to add.
“I think that the points gap between Valentino and Lorenzo is quite big now, and Valentino is really good at managing the points. But I think Lorenzo has the speed to fight and to gain the points. Still there a lot of races left. I think he has the speed and is strong enough thinking about himself to try to win the race, and anything can happen.”
Dovizioso and Márquez echo a broadly-held opinion in the paddock: that Jorge Lorenzo is the faster of the two, but Valentino Rossi is the man who finds a way to cross the line first.
From the coast to the high plains. From the hubbub of a string of seaside resorts along the Adriatic Riviera to the vast unspoiled mountains and hills of Baja Aragon. From the green and fertile Po basin to the arid olive orchards and vineyards of the Maestrazgo.
Contrasts don’t get much greater than between Misano in Italy and Motorland Aragon in Spain.
The tracks, too, are very different. Misano is fairly slow, with a lot of tight first gear corners. Aragon is much faster, with some tighter sections, but a couple of seriously fast and flowing corners.
Misano is pretty much flat as a pancake, where Aragon has its own version of Laguna Seca’s Corkscrew, though not quite so precipitous, and a long, fast downhill back straight leading to a long double-apex left hander and a climb uphill to the finish.
The scenery may change, but the storyline in MotoGP remains the same. The championship remains a head-to-head battle between the Movistar Yamaha men, much as it has been since Le Mans.
After Misano, the ball is very much back in Valentino Rossi’s court, having extended his lead over Jorge Lorenzo to 23 points.
He will need that cushion, as the championship now arrives at Aragon, a circuit where Lorenzo arrives as a clear favorite, having had some strong results here in the past. Rossi, meanwhile, is at one of his worst tracks, Aragon being one of just two tracks where the Italian has never won, Austin being the other.
MotoGP is headed to Motorland Aragon this weekend, and while the Spanish track is usually a favorite with the GP riders, for Nicky Hayden, it’s looking like a tough weekend already.
Breaking his right thumb while training on minimotos in Italy, Hayden will have to assess his ability to race on Friday, and if he decides to continue with the weekend, will likely have a hard time of things come race day.