The history books may well show that the defining moment of the 2013 MotoGP World championship came at Turn 12 on the sixth lap of the Aragon Grand Prix, when works Honda team mates and arch-rivals Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez collided under braking, with disastrous results for one of them.
Nevertheless, the 14th race of the 18-round series was a triumph for the home riders, with eight out of nine podium positions taken by Spanish riders – one of whom, Moto3 winner Alex Rins, actually grew up within walking distance of the circuit
It was a day of mixed fortunes for the South African contingent, however, with Brad Binder finishing a creditable 12th in Moto3 while Steven Odendall crashed out at the end of the back straight on lap one of the Moto2 race.
Marquez beat Lorenzo by one hundredth of a second in qualifying to claim the seventh pole of his maiden season in the premier class, while Pedrosa, who won at Aragon in 2012, started from the front row for the first time since Indianapolis on his 28th birthday.
Lorenzo grabbed the lead at the start, pulling out a small but crucial gap as the works Honda team mates began carving each other up right from the second corner of the opening lap - there are no team orders in MotoGP!
The deciding moment of the afternoon, came as the two Hondas closed in on Lorenzo on lap six. Pedrosa was ahead going into Turn 12, but Marquez seemed to outbrake himself going into the corner and suddenly appeared right under Pedrosa’s elbow.
Both riders confirmed later that the bikes had indeed touched, but seemed undamaged; moments later, Pedrosa dramatically highsided out of the race. Telemetry later showed that the rear-wheel sensor on Pedrosa’s machine had been damaged in the bump, and the traction control was no longer working - hence the huge highside.
The incident allowed Lorenzo to extend his lead to 1.7 seconds, although Marquez reeled him in and passed him at the at the same corner eight laps later, extending his championship lead to 39 points with 100 left on offer from four remaining races.
Pedrosa, however, was now 59 points in arrears, his title campaign practically in tatters.
Lorenzo’s factory Yamaha team mate, nine times World champion Valentino Rossi, finished on the podium for the first time since Laguna Seca, fending off Honda privateers Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl, and Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow in a superb four-way contest for third that saw them finish within less than two seconds .
Tech3’s Bradley Smith, Ducati Team duo Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden and Ducati privateer Andrea Iannone completed the top 10.
1 Marc Marquez (Spain) Honda – 42min03.459
2 Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha +1.356sec
3 Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha +12.927
4 Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Honda +13.787
5 Stefan Bradl (Germany) Honda +13.973
6 Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Yamaha +14.662
7 Bradley Smith (Britain) Yamaha +31.220
8 Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Ducati +40.671
9 Nicky Hayden (United States) Ducati +53.413
10 Andrea Iannone (Italy) Ducati +55.067
POINTS after 14 of 18 rounds
1 Marc Marquez (Spain) Honda – 278
2 Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha – 239
3 Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda – 219
4 Valentino Rossi (Italy) Ducati – 185
5 Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Yamaha – 156
6 Stefan Bradl (Germany) Honda – 135
7 Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Honda – 125
8 Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Ducati – 112
9 Nicky Hayden (United States) Ducati – 102
10 Bradley Smith (Britain) Yamaha - 80
Nicolas Terol (Suter) celebrated his 25th birthday with his first Moto2 pole position, and translated that into a clean start in the race and a lead that was never seriously challenged, followed home by Kalex team mates Esteve Rabat and Pol Espargaro.
Chmapionship leader Scott Redding, also on a Kalex, was held up by traffic throughout qualifying and qualified 13th, but pulled a superb start to break into the top five within a couple of laps, while another Kalex pilot, Takaaki Nakagami, was also lightning quick off the line, moving into second at Turn 2 before dropping down the field due to a mistake on the lap four. Nakagami, who had finished second at the previous four races, managed to fight back up to 11th by the end.
Terol clinched his 15th career win, coming home 1.7 seconds ahead of Rabat, while Espargaro finally got the best of a mesmerising, fairing-to-fairing battle with Redding for the final podium spot, as the two swopped places on almost every lap of the second half, at one point making contact as Redding overtook in a daring move in Turn 16.
With two laps to go, however, Espargaro outbraked championship leader into Turn 16 and held off a determined counterattack to claim third by a quarter of a second, while Redding’s team mate Mika Kallio kept a watching brief from fifth, having made up 10 places since the start.
The result reduced Redding’s championship lead over Espargaro to 20 points.
No less than three riders failed to finish the opening lap as Suter rider Thomas Luthi, bounced across the gravel trap in Turn 2 and Xavier Simeon’s race finished at the end of his first run down the back straight; he was lucky not to be collected by South African Steven Odendaal, who crashed in the same place just seconds later..
1 Nicolas Terol (Spain) Suter – 40min15.232.
2 Esteve Rabat (Spain) Kalex +1.736sec
3 Pol Espargaro (Spain) Kalex +3.530
4 Scott Redding (Britain) Kalex +3.783
5 Mika Kallio (Finland) Kalex +4.049
6 Jordi Torres (Spain) Suter +11.602
7 Johann Zarco (France) Suter +16.298
8 Julian Simon (Spain) Kalex +18.765
9 Mattia Pasini (Italy) Speed Up +2.266
10 Sandro Cortese (Germany) Kalex +23.757
Steven Odendaal (South Africa) Speed Up - DNF
KTM rider Alex Rins, who grew up just minutes from the MotorLand Aragón circuit that first became part of the World championship in 2010, claimed his sixth pole position of the season on his home circuit, and was never out of the fight for the lead in Sunday’s race.
The early stages were a thrilling three-way battle between Rins, Maverick Vinales and Alex Marquez - each on a KTM – before Rins and Vinales pulled away to make it a two-horse, taking it right down to the back straight on the final lap, where the local hero eked out a gap of less than half a second that, nevertheless, gave him the win.
Marquez had a lonely ride to third after losing touch with the dice for the lead, coming home four seconds ahead of another KTM rider, championship leader Luis Salom, who salvaged valuable points from a difficult weekend by working his way up from eighth on the grid to fourth at the flag.
That left Salom with a nine-point advantage over Rins, who jumped three points ahead of Vinales with four races remaining.
Mahindra Racing’s Miguel Oliveira completed the top five after an error from the otherwise impressive Philipp Oettl (Kalex KTM) dropped him to sixth at the line after he’d run as high as fourth, setting a new lap record in the process.
Jonas Folger (Kalesx KTM) finished a notable seventh after having undergone surgery for a fractured ankle after the previous race at Misano and South African Brad Binder collect four welcome points for Mahindra with 12th - but the surprise package of the weekend was 16-year-old wild card Maria Herrara (KTM), who raised eyebrows on Friday by unexpectedly finishing inside the top ten in the first practice session.
Herrera fell on the very first lap of her debut Grand Prix, but kept the bike running and rejoined the nearly a lap down, finishing stone last but without being lapped.
1 Alex Rins (Spain) KTM – 40min04.214
2 Maverick Vinales (Spain) KTM +0.426sec
3 Alex Marquez (Spain) KTM +12.377
4 Luis Salom (Spain) KTM +16.416
5 Miguel Oliveira (Portugal) Mahindra +16.496
6 Philipp Oettl (Germany) Kalex KTM +21.539
7 Jonas Folger (Germany) Kalex KTM +25.255
8 Romano Fenati (Italy) FTR Honda +27.711
9 Arthur Sissis (Australia) KTM +27.888
10 Efren Vasquez (Spain) Mahindra +28.977
11 Alexis Masbou (France) FTR Honda +29.601
12 Brad Binder (South Africa) Mahindra +29.748