MotoGP 2015: Gran Premio de Aragon Wrap-Up

Lorenzo dominates, Marquez crashes, Pedrosa shines.

Jorge Lorenzo leading the field at Aragon

No one was surprised when Jorge Lorenzo went instantly to the top in Aragon Friday practice. Yamaha only weeks ago ran a special test here, moving its base setting a day ahead of anyone else's. Yet no one was surprised when Honda's Marc Marquez went to the top on Saturday, then qualified on pole, after switching from harder to softer tire options. He finds a way.

Neither was anyone surprised when Lorenzo nailed the start from the second starting position. Marquez lost a couple of positions at the start, then quickly pushed past injured-but-quick Andrea Iannone on the Ducati to be on Lorenzo's back wheel in the second lap. These are all things we have seen before and which we expect.

But instead of a grinding race-long duel between Lorenzo’s refined perfection and Marquez’s continuing dogged adaptation to the Honda’s harsher 2015 power, Marc’s hot pace proved less accurately matched to the Aragon surface than Jorge’s. Away went front grip in Turn 12, the Honda inverting to slide on its top in the gravel. Marquez was up in an instant, but before heaving the bike upright from a kneeling position, he shook his fists above his knees in frustration. In a comic-book version, his thought balloon would have read, “Zounds! Foiled again!”

The bike was not able to continue in the race.

Marc Marquez race action from Aragon

“This one was completely my mistake,” Marquez said later. "Today I can only apologize to the team and the fans, because we were working very well and we had a very good pace all weekend.  On the second lap, when braking for Turn 12, I made a mistake and lost the front.

“Maybe the fact that I didn't have anything to lose and it was a home grand prix, I pushed too much. It was not necessary because in one lap I had already caught Jorge.

“Maybe with a full fuel tank, also maybe the tires were maybe not at the correct temperature, but I did a mistake. I lost the front and I’m sorry.”

Said Lorenzo later: “I took a big sigh of relief because I was pushing so much and my tension level was very high. I was trying to pull away by some meters 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 might have beaten me in the final part because he might not have felt the drop of the tires as much.”

Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa race action from Aragon

Lorenzo led every lap to win by 2.7 seconds from an aggressive Dani Pedrosa, who was riding at a strong pace. Right with him was Valentino Rossi, who had attacked repeatedly at the end, borrowing pavement in each attack that would have to be somehow paid back after the pass.  The classic “crossover” pass is to come beneath the rider ahead, counting on being able to slow enough to make the corner without being forced wide by the excess speed. Pedrosa was dismissed by some in recent years as fast but not a fighter, yet on this day he instantly did what was necessary to retake the lead, maneuvering with brilliant quickness in the process.

Lorenzo had seen “Marquez Out” on his pit board on Lap 2, but the next board told him Pedrosa was close. Said Lorenzo: “I pushed so much, not because I wanted to escape from Marc, but to put some gap on Dani and Valentino.

“When I waited one more lap, I saw that the board said “Dani +2.3.” I felt I could breathe, but then suddenly I said to myself: ‘I have to keep focused because Dani always has a good pace at this track. And with Valentino on his back, I knew he would push at the maximum for the whole race.’

“I couldn't relax any time and I had to keep focused and ride very precise to keep the rhythm, so a very important race and very emotional because in the last two races I have some mistakes and also some bad luck with the weather.”

Dani Pedrosa battles Valentino Rossi at Aragon

Rossi spoke of his attempts to pass Pedrosa: “I stayed behind Dani because in the beginning it was very difficult to overtake and I didn’t have enough pace to stay in front. So I had to fight for everything in the last lap. I tried to overtake where I saw I was strong, but already from the first overtake I saw that Dani today was very strong; he always came back. I tried to concentrate and stay on the line at entry every time, but on the last lap we touched and I went over the curb, so at that moment I had just to try all or nothing, you know. In the chicane, I tried without thinking, but he was able to cross the line somehow.”

The factory Ducatis of Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso were right where we expect to see them, close behind in fourth and fifth. Iannone commented during practice that he had learned to cope with his injured shoulder by not using maximum strength. The Ducatis are again competitive and will likely become more so.

Riders make a clear distinction between pace and lap time. In practice runs, we are shown lap times—good, better, best—but it is pace that wins races. Here at Aragon, only Marquez and Lorenzo had the pace to win. In the movies, underdogs win by magic; they have “heart.” In MotoGP, when your pace is 1.5 seconds slow, you’re 15th. Physics is heartless.

Jorge Lorenzo with winner

Yamaha has made headway this year, becoming especially strong on corner exit acceleration and improving in braking stability. Race engineer Ronnie Saner talked about the latter at the New Jersey MotoAmerica finale two weeks ago. He spoke of the sudden pitch induced when the clutch engages after a downshift; that pitch energy persists into the corner as an oscillation, cyclically varying front and rear tire loadings. You have probably seen bikes bouncing on their tires in this way in MotoGP slow-motion footage.

What’s significant is this: Any oscillation that persists into the turn limits performance, because the maximum tire grip the rider can use is the reduced amount available when the tire is on the rising (less ground pressure) part of the bounce. Rules permit two Inertial Measuring Units (IMUs) to be aboard, which allow such motions to be studied in detail and a time-based ground-pressure/tire grip plot produced. Get the bike settled, bounce-free, on its tires during entry and you can go in a lot faster.

Rossi continues to lead the championship points, 263 to Lorenzo’s 249. Marquez remains distant at 184. Rossi fought to pass Pedrosa so hard to limit Lorenzo’s Aragon “take” to just five points, but it was not to be. Also worth noting:  With these results, Movistar Yamaha has locked up the 2015 Team World Championship.

Now the MotoGP series flies east for Japan, Australia, and Malaysia, before returning to Europe for the final round at Valencia.

Results: 2015 MotoGP of Aragon

Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team Time/Gap
1 LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 25 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 41'44.933
2 PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 20 Repsol Honda Team +2.683
3 ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 16 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP +2.773
4 IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 13 Ducati Team +7.858
5 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 11 Ducati Team +24.322
6 ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 10 Team Suzuki Ecstar +24.829
7 CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR 9 LCR Honda +25.367
8 SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 8 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +25.503
9 ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA 7 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +26.452
10 HERNANDEZ Yonny 68 COL 6 Pramac Racing +43.889
11 VINALES Maverick 25 SPA 5 Team Suzuki Ecstar +44.255
12 REDDING Scott 45 GBR 4 Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS +48.176
13 BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA 3 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +49.755
14 LAVERTY Eugene 50 IRE 2 Aspar MotoGP Team +50.271
15 HAYDEN Nicky 69 USA 1 Aspar MotoGP Team +50.364
16 BARBERA Hector 8 SPA 0 Avintia Racing +50.722
17 BAZ Loris 76 FRA 0 Athina Forward Racing +51.997
18 BRADL Stefan 6 GER 0 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +53.406
19 MILLER Jack 43 AUS 0 LCR Honda +56.859
20 DI MEGLIO Mike 63 FRA 0 Avintia Racing +59.607
21 ELIAS Toni 24

Rider Standings

Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team
1 ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 263 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
2 LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 249 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
3 MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 184 Repsol Honda Team
4 IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 172 Ducati Team
5 SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 143 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 139 Ducati Team
7 PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 129 Repsol Honda Team
8 PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA 93 Pramac Racing
9 CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR 88 LCR Honda
10 ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA 88 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
11 ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 76 Team Suzuki Ecstar
12 VINALES Maverick 25 SPA 74 Team Suzuki Ecstar
13 REDDING Scott 45 GBR 67 Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
14 HERNANDEZ Yonny 68 COL 47 Pramac Racing
15 BAZ Loris 76 FRA 28 Athina Forward Racing
16 BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA 26 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
17 BARBERA Hector 8 SPA 23 Avintia Racing
18 MILLER Jack 43 AUS 16 LCR Honda
19 HAYDEN Nicky 69 USA 13 Aspar MotoGP Team
20 BRADL Stefan 6 GER 11 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
21 LAVERTY Eugene 50 IRE 9 Aspar MotoGP Team
22 PIRRO Michele 51 ITA 8 Ducati Team
23 DI MEGLIO Mike 63 FRA 7 Avintia Racing
24 AOYAMA Hiroshi 7 JPN 5 AB Motoracing
25 DE ANGELIS Alex 15 RSM 2 Athina Forward Racing

Photo #1

Jorge Lorenzo leads the field.Yamaha MotoGP Photo

Photo #2

Jorge Lorenzo leads the field.Yamaha MotoGP Photo

Photo #3

Valentino Rossi.Yamaha MotoGP Photo

Photo #4

Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa.Yamaha MotoGP Photo

Photo #5

Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa.Yamaha MotoGP Photo

Photo #6

Valentino Rossi.Yamaha MotoGP Photo

Photo #7

Lorenzo and Rossi celebrate.Yamaha MotoGP Photo

Photo #8

Jorge Lorenzo.Yamaha MotoGP Photo

Photo #9

Jorge Lorenzo.Yamaha MotoGP Photo

Photo #10

Yamaha MotoGP Team.Yamaha MotoGP Photo

Photo #11

Marc Marquez.Honda Photo

Photo #12

Dani Pedrosa.Honda Photo

Photo #13

Dani Pedrosa.Honda Photo

Photo #14

Dani Pedrosa.Honda Photo

Photo #15

Andrea Dovizioso.Ducati Photo

Photo #16

Andrea Dovizioso.Ducati Photo

Photo #17

Andrea Iannone.Ducati Photo

Photo #18

Andrea Iannone.Ducati Photo

Photo #19

Andrea Iannone.Ducati Photo

Photo #20

Aleix Espargaro.Suzuki Photo

Photo #21

Aleix Espargaro.Suzuki Photo

Photo #22

Maverick Vinales.Suzuki Photo