Alcañiz, Spain: Marc Marquez moved to within one race of sealing his sixth MotoGP title on Sunday after another dominant display saw him cruise to victory in Aragon.
The 26-year-old’s eighth triumph of the season is his fourth in a row at the Aragon Motorland, situated 160 km from his home town of Cervera, and means he now sits 98 points clear in the World Championship standings with five races left.
Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso, who crossed the line in second after starting the race 10th on the grid, remains Marquez’s closest challenger in the standings — although the Honda rider can now seal the title in Thailand next month.
“I was convinced about my strategy and I felt good. I pushed in the beginning, opened a gap of four to five seconds and didn’t push more,” Marquez said afterwards.
“I’m happy with this victory. It looks easy, but in the end we’re working very hard. We crashed on Friday, so we are always pushing. We know that Dovizioso never gives up.”
Marquez’s victory in Spain also ends any lingering hopes Danilo Petrucci, Alex Rins, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi still had of lifting the trophy.
One of Dovizioso and Petrucci, both of Ducati, needed to win to turn the tide but the team’s last victory in Aragon came in 2010, while Marquez has made this 5.077 km-circuit something of a home venue in recent years. He finished the race in 41min 57.221sec, a considerable 4.836sec ahead of Dovizioso and 5.430sec in front of Australian Jack Miller, who snatched third and a spot on the podium.
“We’re really happy about that, we needed that result, especially when you start 10th,” Dovizioso said.
Marquez streets ahead
Marquez had been quickest in both practice and qualifying and the dry track only enhanced his credentials as the outstanding favourite coming into the race.
Rins had to apologise afterwards for his early dash inside that forced Franco Morbidelli to crash out at the 12th turn, with Rins also affected and dropping down to 19th as a result.
Marquez was more than a second clear after the opening lap but Vinales and Fabio Quartararo were both battling for a spot in the top three, with Miller establishing himself behind the leader in second.
Valentino Rossi, Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Iannone were all chasing Aleix Espargaro in fifth and Vinales made his move on the 16th turn to take third, with Miller now firmly in his sights.
Rins served a long-lap penalty, costing him a few seconds but no positions, as the pack behind Marquez bunched, all in touch with the podium places. Having seen off Quartararo, Vinales now surged round the outside of Miller while Marquez moved almost five seconds clear, his success all-but secured with six laps to go.
Vinales came under late pressure from Dovizioso and was overtaken by the Italian, who opened up down the back straight. By then, Marquez’s victory was complete. In the Moto2, Jorge Navarro closed the gap on leader Alex Marquez, the younger brother of the 500cc class’ top dog, after finishing less than a second behind Sunday’s winner Brad Binder. — AFP