Motorland Aragon, Spain – Local hero Marc Marquez took a commanding win at his home circuit to stretch his MotoGP championship lead over veteran Valentino Rossi to 52 points with four races remaining, as the Doctor trailed home a disappointing third behind Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
Earlier, 21-year-old Brad Binder had become South Africa’s youngest motorcycle world champion, the first South African ever to win the lightweight title and the first rider of any nationality to clinch the most competitive class in Grands Prix with four races still remaining since the current scoring system was introduced in 1993.
After a scuffle off the line through Turns 1 and 2, it was Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales who emerged from the melee to turn his front row start into an early lead in the race.
As a tight leadin g group of eight broke away, Marquez soon took the lead, before a wobble through Turn 7 saw the championship leader drop back down to fifth behind Vinales, Lorenzo and Rossi.
Soon Rossi moved up to challenge the Suzuki rider with a clever but aggressive move to take the lead with on lap eight. Vinales, pushing to find a way back through, then ran wide at Turn 1 and let Marquez through to hunt down his championship rival as the front group split into two duels.
Marquez almost immediately went through on the inside of the 'Aragon Corkscrew', and began slowly opening a gap on Rossi – who was soon looking over his shoulder instead as Lorenzo and Vinales threatened.
As the laps counted down Lorenzo left Vinales and caught Rossi, with the Yamahas then locked together in a fight for second - until the Doctor ran wide into Turn 1 on the final lap and Lorenzo, after a difficult weekend until a last minute front row, came home second in an impressive recovery from a crash in the morning’s warm-up session.
For Rossi, the missed opportunity was a big one in his fight to close in on title leader Marquez, dropping nine points with the championship leader taking the win.
Vinales kept the Suzuki fourth after dropping back in the final stages of the race, with Honda rider Cal Crutchlow the top privateer in fifth, just ahead of Misano winner Dani Pedrosa’s factory Honda, who passed Aleix Espargaro on the second Suzuki in the final stages for sixth and brother Pol Espargaro (Yamaha Tech 3) who was eighth.
Ducati Team's Andrea Dovizioso had a tough race despite being a frontrunner in the early stages, and was one of the only bikes in the initial group of frontrunners to have chosen both medium compound tyres. With six laps to go he came under fire from the Aprilias of Alvaro Bautista and Stafen Bradl, who pushed him out of top 10 in the final stages.
Nicky Hayden's one-off return from World Superbikes to stand in for injured Honda privateer Jack Miller was a success with the American scoring points in P15 despite never previously having ridden a 2016-spec MotoGP bike.
Sam Lowes took a stunning win, converting pole position into a dominant Sunday performance in a race where Speed Up rider Simone Corsi in ninth was once again the only rider in the top 10 not Kalex-mounted.
Local hero Alex Marquez put in a superb ride to take his first Grand Prix podium at his home track in second, after team-mate Franco Morbidelli took second from him on the final lap - only to be taken straight back again!
Marquez took the lead from second on the grid, Lowes shadowing the rider from Cervera before taking the lead and disappearing at the front in a controlled and dominant showing of scintillating race pace to bounce back from disappointment in Misano. He was more than three seconds clear by the flag, consolidating his third place in the standings, 40 points behind Johann Zarco.
Franco Morbidelli fought his way past Takaaki Nakagami to set his sights on Thomas Luthi, lighting up the timesheets as he blitzed past the Swiss veteran and than set his sights on team-mate Marquez, giving their crew minor heart attacks as they battled out through the final corner.
Luthi and Nakagami were next, two seconds clear of a raging three-way fight for sixth between Alex Rins, Lorenzo Baldassarri and Zarco, who finished in that order in less than half a second, with Corsi only another second adrift, and Jonas Folger four seconds further back to close out the top 10.
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