MotorLand Aragon, Spain – Reigning champion Marc Marquez took win number five of the season on home turf in Aragon, picking off his rivals on the way to the front, but the loudest cheers were for Yamaha veteran Valentino Rossi, as he came home fifth after a superb ride, just 24 days after breaking his right leg in two places.
South African Darryn Binder also made a welcome if less spectacular return from injury, finishing a game 22nd in the Moto3 race, while big brother Brad took a fighting fifth in Moto2.
Ducati Team rider Jorge Lorenzo took the holeshot from pole, shooting away into the lead and leaving Yamaha Factory hotshot Maverick Vinales to head the chasing group until Rossi pounced and set off after the Ducati in the lead. Soon after that Pedrosa on the second works Honda ran wide, letting both Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Marquez move past – and the front four were able to pull away.
Vinales was at the front of the second group, with Pedrosa all over him like a rash, as Rossi reeled in the leading Ducati. Then Marquez went up the inside of both Rossi and Lorenzo in one move but couldn’t hold the line and ran way wide, but recovered quickly and finally made a move on Rossi in the corner on to the main straight.
Then he went after Lorenzo and blitzed the Ducati rider for his fifth win of the year.
Pedrosa had passed Vinales in Turn 1 and was able to reel in Rossi and then Lorenzo with some stunning pace despite his second row start, leaving the Yamaha team-mates to fight it out for fourth, with Vinales in front when it counted.
Just behind Rossi over the line, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) impressively held off Dovizioso in the latter stages – who in turn came under fire from Ducati privateer Alvaro Bautista. Johann Zarco (Yamaha Tech 3) took ninth after a difficult weekend, ahead of Espargaro, completing the top 10 for KTM, making steady progress for another impressive result.
Franco Morbidelli increased his championship lead but was forced to work hard for it by fellow Italian Mattia Pasini in a spectacular last-lap showdown. Gradually reeling in the points leader, Pasini made it a duel to the line on the final lap, but Morbidelli held him off by just 0.145s. Miguel Oliveira (KTM) took third after qualifying on pole, closing in on the duo at the front to finish only half a second behind the leader.
Oliveira got the holeshot from his second pole of the season, but Morbidelli struck back at the end of the first lap and then began to disappear. Pasini then got his head down and closed the gap, passing Morbidelli for the lead at one point, but couldn’t break away.
Going into the final lap it was wheel to wheel, with the two swopping paint at least once, but Pasini couldn’t quite get close enough at the end of the back straight, and Morbidelli was able to beat him to the line. Oliveira, closing to within a tantalising few tenths on the final lap, took third after another impressive ride.
Championship challenger Tom Luthi had a rare race off the podium, but nevertheless came home fourth for a good haul of points and some damage limitation - just holding off Brad Binder, who put in a stunning ride on the second KTM for his second consecutive top-five finish.
Jorge Navarro took sixth, pulling a few tenths ahead of veteran Simone Corsi (Speed Up) in the final laps, while Takaaki Nakagami put in a late charge to finish only 0.033s behind Corsi.
Suter rider Sandro Cortese had a good battle with Alex Marquez until the latter was forced to retire, and came home an unchallenged ninth ahead of Rossi protégée Francesco Bagnaia.
Honda privateer Joan Mir made history at Aragon GP by becoming the first rider since the introduction of Moto3 in 2012 to win eight or more races in a season. Almost neck and neck over the line with Fabio Di Giannantonio and Enea Bastianini for an all-Honda podium, Mir increased his lead in the Championship once again.
Polesitter Jorge Martin (Honda) got the holeshot off the line, with Bastianini in close attendance as they led field through Turn 1 and then began to pull away from the chasing pack. Bastianini soon took the lead, but Aron Canet (Honda) soon closed in on them - and from a two-way fight, the race soon became a typical Moto3 freight train as the field closed up.
With six laps to go, Mir hit the front, only to be passed two laps later by Di Giananntonio, who’d come up from 14th on the grid. Di Giananntonio led going into the final lap, but Mir struck as he, Di Giannantonio and Bastianini pulled a gap of a couple of tenths with some spectacular slipstreaming down the back straight.
Mir got the best of a three-way photo finish, only 0.043s ahead of Di Giannantonio, with Bastianini a scant 0.008s further adrift.
Martin passed Canet at the end to take fourth, with John McPhee (Honda) sixth after moving up through the group in the closing stages. Marcos Ramirez (KTM) moved up to seventh in a solid ride, just ahead of a stunning eighth place race for wildcard Dennis Foggia (KTM), the reigning Moto3 Junior world championship leader, followed by Philipp Oettl (KTM) and Romano Fenati (Honda).