Factory Yamaha riders Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi had to eat humble pie, however, coming in behind both Ducati Team machines and one of their own second-tier Tech3 bikes.
With big brother Brad still recovering from surgery on his broken arm, Darryn Binder kept South African fans on the edge of their seats, battling for the lead in the Moto3 race until he slid out trying to go round the outside of Romano Fenati – and even then he didn’t give up, battling his way up through the field to finish 20th.
Pedrosa stormed away from his first pole position since Sepang in 2015 and never looked back, while reigning champion Marquez made inroads in the points battle in second, ahead of a stunning home ride from another five-times World Champion, Jorge Lorenzo in his first podium finish for the Ducati Team.
Pedrosa got the holeshot from a great start off pole, with Marquez slotting in behind and a battle erupting for third between Honda privateer Cal Crutchlow, Johann Zarco (Yamaha Tech 3) and championship leader Rossi, until Zarco set off on a charge, taking bike after bike in now-signature style.
Arriving behind reigning champion Marquez, the rookie held station for a lap as Lorenzo fought back in a tight midfield, getting past Rossi and then Vinales before Zarco passed Marquez at the final corner, heading off after Pedrosa in the lead until Marquez hit back.
Drama struck further back as privateers Jack Miller (Honda) and Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) collided and slid out, and then Crutchlow lowsided into the gravel at Criville, followed shortly by the KTM Factory machine of Pol Espargaro, and the Suzuki of Andrea Iannone, who crashed out of a duel with Vinales, with 17 laps to go.
Marquez was unable to make any real impression on the lead, as Pedrosa pulled the pin in the final laps to cross the line six seconds clear for a stunning win – making it 16 consecutive years that Pedrosa has taken at least one Grand Prix win. Lorenzo had an incredible race on home soil for a first podium with Ducati, moving past Zarco after a positive weekend all round and pulling away to jubilation from his crew as he pulled into parc ferme.
Zarco took fourth in another impressive performance for the reigning Moto2 world champion, ahead of an impressive fight back for Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) to get past Vinales after the latter made a mistake.
Ducati privateer Danilo Petrucci stormed through from 13th on the grid to follow Vinales over the line, with Jonas Folger on the second Yamaha Tech 3 solid once again in the top 10 to take eighth. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) also moved through the field, incredibly taking 2016 Jerez winner and championship leader Valentino Rossi for ninth at the death, as the ‘The Doctor’ struggled with tyre life in the hot temperatures to complete the top 10 – but retain the championship lead.
Alex Marquez (Kalex) took a stunning maiden Moto2 win, three and a half seconds clear of an impressive first podium for Francesco Bagnaia (Kalex). It was Marquez’ first win since he won the Moto3 race at Motegi in 2014, the year he took the lightweight class crown. Miguel Oliveira took another podium for KTM in third, as championship leader Franco Morbidelli (Kalex) slid out of contention early on.
Marquez took the lead out of Turn 1 after a good start, with Morbidelli taking the apex first and then running a little wide. The EG 0,0 Marc VDS team-mates soon opened a small but vital gap as they pulled away from a four-way fight for third between Dominique Aegerter (Suter), Mattia Pasini (Kalex), Xavi Vierge (Tech 3) and Bagnaia.
There was drama soon after as Simone Corsi (Speed Up) lost control and slid out, taking Vierge and Takaaki Nakagami (Kalex) with him – and the drama wasn’t over. That left Pasini and Bagnaia fighting for third, ahead of Aegerter, Oliveira, Luca Marini (Kalex), Marcel Schrotter (Suter), Tom Lüthi (Kalex) and an impressive start for Khairul Idham Pawi (Kalex) in the top 10.
A small mistake from Marquez let Morbidelli through on lap eight – before drama suddenly struck as the championship leader slid out and Marquez found himself all on his own, with a lead of four and half seconds. After that it was a matter of staying focused for another 17 laps, until he crossed the line in clear air to take his maiden Moto2 win, in front of his home crowd.
With the final laps approaching, Bagnaia had moved through into a more secure second to secure a stunning rookie podium, with Oliveira then hunting down Pasini to take third – the second rostrum for the KTM intermediate-class chassis in four races.
Veteran Italian Pasini crossed the line fourth, ahead of Marini and Schrotter. Aegerter followed up his top five in Texas with a seventh in Jerez, ahead of a good day in the points standings for Luthi as the 2016 runner-up came home eighth to cut some of the gap to championship leader Morbidelli, while Axel Pons (Kalex) just lost ninth on the final lap to an impressive late charge from Yonny Hernandez (Kalex).
Aron Canet took a career first Grand Prix win at his home circuit, with everything coming down to an all-Honda three way battle in the final corner against Texas winner Romano Fenati and championship leader Joan Mir. Canet’s move saw him go third to first in the “Jorge Lorenzo” corner on the final lap, holding onto it over the line in a tight win by just 0.031s.
It was a classic Moto3 contest under the Spanish sun, with a big lead group fighting it out from lights out. Jorge Martin (Honda) got a great start from pole, before the early laps of the race saw the Platinum Bay KTMs of Marcos Ramirez and Darryn Binder emerge as the early superstars – heading the battle at the front in a stunning fight for the lead.
Pushing hard to stay in the fight for victory, the battle sadly ended early for Binder after he tried to go round the outside of Fenati and slid out, although he remounted and kept up some impressive pace to end the race 20th.
Team-mate Ramirez stayed in contention for the podium until the final few corners of the last lap and crossed the line for an impressive fourth – a personal best and equalling the best result yet for the team.
An initial top group of twelve had become 10 as the laps ticked down – with the quartet of Fenati, Mir, Canet and Ramirez holding a small advantage over the chasing group of Fabio Di Giannantonio (Honda), Enea Bastianini (Honda), Juanfran Guevara (KTM) and Sky Racing KTM team-mates Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega.
In the end it was ‘Diggia’ who got the best of that group to come home fifth, ahead of Migno and an incredibly tight finish between Bulega and Bastianini. Jorge Martin crossed the line ninth after struggling to find the same pace as his pole lap, with Guevara completing the top 10.