MOTOGP: Closing the Gap; Lorenzo Claims 60th Career Win in Drama-Filled Aragon Grand Prix

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ARAGON, Spain – official series release — MotoGP photo —

Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo rode brilliantly to secure his 60th career MotoGP victory in front of 67,000 fans at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón on Sunday.

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was involved in an excellent fight with Valentino Rossi over the final few laps for the second step of the podium at MotorLand Aragon. Pedrosa beat Rossi to the line by just a tenth of a second, while his teammate Marc Marquez crashed out of the race.

Lorenzo has reduced Rossi’s advantage in the standings by 9 points to just 14 heading into the flyaway rounds, with just four races remaining. Movistar Yamaha’s first double podium since Brno saw them lift the team title for the first time since 2010.

“When I crossed the finish line, I took a big sigh of relief because I was pushing so much and my tension-level was very high,” Lorenzo said. “I was trying to pull away … from Marquez. I knew it was going to be difficult because my pace was very similar to his and after the warm up I knew his pace was very strong. We probably would have fought all the race and he may have beaten me in the final part because he may not have noticed the drop of the tires as much, but today I was lucky.

“I saw his crash on the board and then I had to wait another lap to see the gap to Pedrosa. That was already very big after two laps, but I still couldn‘t relax because I knew that Dani had Valentino behind him and on this track he has good pace. I needed to stay focused and not make any mistakes to maintain the distance and that‘s what I did all race.”

There was drama at the start, as Marquez seemed to make a mistake allowing Lorenzo to lead into the first corner with Iannone in second, as the pole man dropped down to third. The Spaniard recovered to make a move on Iannone into second through the first few corners and set off after Lorenzo at the front.

Rossi, who knew he couldn’t let Lorenzo get away, started making his way through the field from sixth on the grid immediately, moving up to fifth at the end of the first lap at the expense of Pol Espargaro. The Italian was already two seconds behind Lorenzo in second.

Unbelievably, just as he was closing down Lorenzo at the front, Marquez lost the front at turn 12 and crashed out of the Aragon GP for the second year in a row. It was Marquez’s fifth DNF of the year – the most he has ever had in a World Championship season – which sees him now trail Rossi by 70 points in the standings with only 100 up for grabs.

By lap 8 both Pedrosa and Rossi started to lap faster than Lorenzo and the gap had been reduced to 2.6 seconds. Lorenzo got the “hurry up” signal from his pit board and responded, managing his pace beautifully over the next few laps.

With 10 laps to go the gap at the front between Lorenzo and Pedrosa was up to 3.3 seconds, with Rossi still hanging onto the back wheel of the Repsol Honda in third. Lorenzo was riding a simply brilliant race at the front, consistently running in the 1:48s and increasing his lead on every lap.

Rossi meanwhile, was starting to size up Pedrosa ahead of him in an effort to secure a vital extra 4 championship points by finishing in second. With five laps to go he made his first move in anger into turn 4 but Pedrosa immediately responded to re-take the Italian. Undeterred, Rossi tried it again into turn 1, but he couldn’t get it stopped and once more Pedrosa fought back as the two became embroiled in a spectacular duel over the final few laps.

On the penultimate lap, once again Rossi made a move under braking into turn one, but once again he could not get his M1 stopped and couldn’t make it stick as Pedrosa showed incredible grit to fight back. It was shaping up for an epic final lap battle between the two and it didn’t disappoint, Rossi went past in turn four, before Pedrosa stuffed it up the inside into turn seven.

It seemed as though Pedrosa had second in the bag before Rossi made an outrageous move through turn 15, but once more he couldn’t make it stick. The Italian sacrificed the drive onto the back straight in an effort to make the pass, meaning Pedrosa could power his way back past Rossi.

Pedrosa managed to hold on through the final corner to take second by just nine-hundredths of a second from Rossi. All the while Lorenzo rode the perfect race at the front as he took his 39th premier class victory by over 2.6 seconds.

It was Pedrosa’s 97th premier class podium, but only his third of the season and first since the German GP. Rossi claimed his 14th podium from just 15 races this season and the 209th in his illustrious GP career, although the damage done to his championship lead could prove to be costly in his bid for a tenth title.

Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone ended up in an excellent fourth despite having to ride through the pain due to the shoulder he re-dislocated earlier in the week. He crossed the line 16 seconds ahead of his teammate Andrea Dovizioso, who finished fifth.

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