MotoGP Aragon race report: Crazy finish

Jorge Lorenzo beneficiary of crashes by Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa to take first victory of 2014; Aleix Espargaro second, Cal Crutchlow third, Rossi crashes out

motogp aragon race report jorge lorenzo

In probably one of the more chaotic races in recent memory, Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo took his first GP victory of 2014 after the leading pair of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa decided to stay out on slick tires as rain began to fall, then paid the price, with both Repsol Honda riders crashing but getting back into the race to eventually finish 13th and 14th, respectively. Forward Racing Yamaha’s Aleix Espargaro just edged out Ducati’s Cal Crutchlow for second.

At the start it was Pramac Ducati’s Andrea Iannone who grabbed the holeshot and led for the first lap, while all sorts of chaos was happening behind him with multiple shuffling of positions between riders. It was mostly Marquez and Lorenzo who occupied the second and third spots for the first lap, and Marquez quickly made a move for the lead on the second lap, which he solidified after Iannone made some attempts to retake the lead only for the Ducati rider to crash out of the race on the second lap.

The race settled down a bit by the third lap, with the order Marquez, Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, and Rossi. Rossi was looking for a way around Pedrosa when he ran out of room braking for Turn 7 and was forced off the track, where he ended up highsiding on a wet patch of pavement and crashing heavily, luckily without injury.

Lorenzo retook the lead on lap nine, surprising Marquez since the Yamahas were nowhere near the lead pace in practice and qualifying. Marquez stayed close and retook the lead on lap 11, when the sprinkling rain became enough for race direction to show the white flag, signaling that riders could come in and switch to their wet setup bikes at any time. Interestingly, Marquez looked to let Lorenzo take the lead with nine laps to go, but the pace quickly started to slow as the rain started to increase. Marquez and Pedrosa passed Lorenzo towards the end of the lap as the Yamaha rider wasn’t willing to take chances. Aleix Espargaro was the first rider to come in to change to his wet setup bike with six laps to go, and meanwhile Pedrosa and Marquez were sparring over the lead with Lorenzo falling behind.

Lorenzo came in for his wet weather bike with four laps to go, and at the same time, Pedrosa crashed out under braking. On the following lap, it all came unglued for Marquez as he crashed out of the lead, handing it to Lorenzo who held it to the end. Espargaro and Cal Crutchlow battled to finish line over the final podium positions, with Espargaro just edging the Ducati rider for second.

“I made one of the best starts in my career and the first lap was very good,” said an elated Lorenzo afterward. “I was really impressed with my pace and feeling with the bike in dry conditions. The pity at the start was that it was spitting (rain) and with the spitting I didn’t want to crash, I didn’t have confidence, I was careful, maybe more careful than the Repsol guys. So I thought OK, I can’t fight for the victory but now I’m going to finish third or fourth. Then the lap times started to go down to 2:04, same as warm-up (when it was wet), and every lap with more water (on the track) I thought we are going to crash sooner or later. I saw Marc and Dani stayed out on the track, so I say ‘OK, I’m going to risk and go into the pits and see what happens.’ So I enter the pits for the rain tires, which are very difficult to warm up. But little by little I focus and start going faster, but the first time on the straight I see on the board I was 12th. But in the next lap I see I was in first position, so I just wanted to keep the concentration and not crash, but also keep going fast so the others couldn’t catch me. The first victory of the season after so long without victory, so many hard times, so many sacrifices, I’m very proud, very happy.”

“We changed the bike completely from yesterday,” Espargaro explained. “In the start I felt really good, but Bradley (Smith) touch me so the first lap I was last. I tried to be focused, I overtook a lot of riders and then arrived at the group with my brother, Bautista, Bradl. Then when the rain came everyone was going slow, so I decided to take the risk to go into the pits. And when I exited the pits I saw the rain was much stronger. So then I try to be really focused, make no mistakes. As with Jorge, the first lap I was ninth or tenth, and then immediately it was P2. I got really nervous, it was longest five laps of my life. But finally we got the podium, I’m really happy for the team.”

Crutchlow knew he took advantage of other’s misfortune, but he wasn’t throwing it away. “Obviously we got very lucky with the conditions. But you have to remember the first rule of racing in those conditions is try to stay on the bike and make no mistakes. And we did that, and we managed to bring Ducati to the podium. I have to thank them; they haven’t given up and I haven’t given up, fighting as much as we can. I didn’t have that good of a feeling in the dry conditions at the start of the race, but I felt that I was still quite competitive, more than the other races from this year. So I think it was well deserved that we got the podium this weekend. I had a good battle with Aleix at the end, I tried my hardest; but I have to beat him next race, congratulations to the other two on the podium.”

“Ah, it was completely my decision,” admitted Marquez after picking up his bike and grabbing his wet setup bike to eventually finish 13th. “A race like that was the first time for me and maybe for many riders in MotoGP. I tried to manage the situation, I was thinking about the distance between me and the second rider. The problem was I never considered the risk that was between the slick and rain tires. I tried to stay out, it was my decision because from dry to wet the team cannot decide because they don’t how the track is, so it was completely my decision to stay out. But now I have more experience, and next time I’ll go in, sure (laughs).”

“Sure, you regret the decision, but now it’s so easy to decide,” said Pedrosa, who did the same as his teammate and finished 14th. “When you are on the bike many things are going on in your brain because you have to calculate so many things; the lap time you are doing, the laps remaining, how much time you lose going into the pitbox. At the same time you have to remember we are riding in the top class, so fighting for the win, the track was wet with slick tires. So many things going on that I make the decision not to stop that lap even though I should, and then I crash. This is what happens in these kinds of races.”

MotoGP Aragon race results:

Pos. Rider Country Team Machine
1 Jorge Lorenzo SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
2 Aleix Espargaro SPA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha
3 Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team Ducati
4 Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda
5 Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
6 Pol Espargaro SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
7 Alvaro Bautista SPA GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda
8 Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar Honda
9 Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar Honda
10 Scott Redding GBR GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda
11 Danilo Petrucci ITA Octo Ioda Racing Ioda/Aprilia
12 Alex De Angelis ITA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha
13 Marc Marquez SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda
14 Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda
15 Yonny Hernandez COL Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Ducati
16 Michael Laverty IRL Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia
17 Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki
18 Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia
19 Hector Barbera SPA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki
DNF Andrea Dovisioso ITA Ducati Team Ducati
DNF Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
DNF Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing Ducati
DNF Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Honda