Dom­i­nant Mar­quez strength­ens ti­tle grip with com­mand­ing vic­tory at Aragon

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Marc Mar­quez ex­tended his lead in the Mo­toGP World Cham­pi­onship as he sur­vived an early scare to win in com­mand­ing style at Mo­tor­land Aragon in Spain.

The Rep­sol Honda rider, so dom­i­nant throughout prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing, had to dig deep on the open­ing laps as he be­came em­broiled in a dog­fight for the lead and nar­rowly averted disas­ter when he lost the front on lap three, drop­ping from first place to fifth.

How­ever, the 23-year-old fought his way through to re-take the lead on lap 11, mak­ing a clean pass on Mo­vis­tar Yamaha rider and ti­tle ri­val Valentino Rossi be­fore pulling away to win in the end by 2.7 sec­onds.

Jorge Lorenzo mounted a late chal­lenge and picked off team­mate Rossi for sec­ond place, with the Ital­ian run­ning off the track on the penul­ti­mate lap as he at­tempted a last-ditch pass.

Rossi fin­ished third, but has now fallen 52 points be­hind in the cham­pi­onship ti­tle race as Mar­quez strength­ened his grip on a third pre­mier class crown with a de­served vic­tory on home soil in Spain – his first at Aragon since 2013 and his first Mo­toGP win since Sach­sen­ring in Ger­many in July.

Early leader Mav­er­ick Vi­nales claimed fourth on the Ec­star Suzuki af­ter also run­ning off the track as he at­tempted to keep pace with Lorenzo in the clos­ing stages of the race.

Bri­tain's Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) fin­ished ahead of Misano win­ner Dani Pe­drosa on the fac­tory Rep­sol Honda as the pair com­pleted the top six.

Mar­quez and Lorenzo went head-to-head into Turn 1 and al­most touched through the first turns as they staked their claim for the lead, although it was Vi­nales who swooped through on the Suzuki to take up the run­ning as Lorenzo squeezed into sec­ond place ahead of Mar­quez. Rossi was right in touch in fourth place fol­lowed by Du­cati's An­drea Dovizioso.

Mar­quez put a hard move on Lorenzo at Turn 15 on the open­ing lap to snatch sec­ond place and made a hand ges­ture to apol­o­gise to the Yamaha rider as they blasted down the back straight.

The Spa­niard then pounced at the same place on the next lap to hit the front from Vi­nales, but disas­ter al­most struck on the third lap when Mar­quez ap­peared to tuck the front, stand­ing his Honda up­right as he dropped to fifth place, al­low­ing Vi­nales, Lorenzo, Rossi and Dovizioso to flash past.

Sil­ver­stone race win­ner Vi­nales had opened a lead of 0.6 sec­onds on the GSX-RR but Rossi, who over­took Lorenzo with a clin­i­cal pass into Turn 1 at the be­gin­ning of lap six, was on a charge af­ter set­ting the fastest lap of the race at that point of 1m 48.729s.

The nine-time world cham­pion was clos­ing in rapidly on his 2017 Yamaha team-mate and made his move for the lead on lap nine.

Mar­quez, mean­while, had re­grouped, pass­ing Dovizioso for fourth be­fore div­ing un­der Lorenzo at Turn 15 on lap seven to go third.

The Honda rider then set­tled into a rhythm and was re­duc­ing the deficit to Vi­nales in sec­ond when the young Suzuki star ran off the track at Turn 1, gift­ing Mar­quez sec­ond place with Lorenzo also cap­i­tal­is­ing on the mis­take to in­herit third.

Rossi was set­ting a high pace at the front but it soon be­came clear that Mar­quez had more in hand and the dou­ble Mo­toGP world cham­pion re­lent­lessly hunted down the 37-year-old with a suc­ces­sion of fastest laps, even­tu­ally tak­ing over at the front with his now trade­mark pass on the brakes at Turn 15.

Mar­quez broke clear to open a cush­ion, but Rossi's sec­ond place was now un­der threat as Lorenzo and Vi­nales be­gan to close in.

Marc Mar­quez spray­ing cham­pagne on the podium yes­ter­day

Honda's rider Marc Mar­quez, of Spain, waves to his fans at the end of yes­ter­day’s GP Photo: AP

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