Marquez strengthens grip on world title at Aragon
29 September 2013
Marc Marquez strengthened his grip on the MotoGP world title as the championship rookie battled to his sixth win of the season at Aragon.
The Repsol Honda rider wrapped up victory on home territory over Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, extending his advantage to 39 points over the reigning world champion.
However the victory wasn't without controversy, with Dani Pedrosa highsiding out of second place as a result of sensor damage after light contact from team-mate Marquez early in the race.
Pedrosa is now 59 points adrift in the title race with four rounds remaining.
In Pedrosa's absence, Valentino Rossi returned to the rostrum with a tenacious ride to third, the Italian emerging on top of a multi-rider battle with Alvaro Bautista, Stefan Bradl and Cal Crutchlow.
Record-breaking rookie Marquez is now on course to become the first ever premier class newcomer to clinch the championship since American legend Kenny Roberts achieved the feat in 1978.
Lorenzo made a storming start to the race, grabbing the lead into the first corner from second place on the grid.
The Factory Yamaha rider displayed a blistering turn of pace to immediately make a break in the first few corners, opening a gap of 0.8 seconds by the end of the opening lap over Marquez, who moved into second place after a pass on Pedrosa.
Rossi was lying in fourth position ahead of LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl and Cal Crutchlow on the Yamaha Tech 3 M1.
PBM rider Michael Laverty, riding the ART machine for the first time at Aragon, slid off on the opening lap in an incident involving Luca Scassa and Danilo Petrucci on the Ioda-Suter.
Scassa, making his MotoGP debut on the Cardion AB ART as a replacement for Karel Abraham, was able to re-join the race and crossed the line 17th of the 19 finishers.
Lorenzo continued to set the pace but his lead was being gradually reduced by Marquez and Pedrosa as Rossi dropped off the pace of the top three.
Pedrosa put a move on Marquez on the brakes at Turn 7 on the fourth lap and set his sights on pulling in the race leader.
However, in a dramatic turn of events on lap 6, Pedrosa saw his championship hopes evaporate as he was high-sided off his RC213V at Turn 12.
Marquez had been applying pressure on Pedrosa as he attempted to move back into second place and Repsol Honda team principal, Livio Suppo, later revealed that he nudged Pedrosa's rear-wheel as he ran in hot on the brakes.
The contact broke the rear wheel sensor, disabling the traction control on Pedrosa's Honda and he was flung from the machine as he opened the throttle on the exit.
Marquez ran wide but returned safely to the track, with Lorenzo gaining an advantage of two seconds as a result of the incident.
Undeterred, Marquez began to relentlessly hunt down the Yamaha star and was reducing the deficit by around a tenth of a second per lap, eventually closing to the rear of the works M1 on the 13th lap.
Rossi, promoted to third after Pedrosa's demise, was coming under pressure from Bradl, Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista and Crutchlow in an entertaining battle for the last rostrum place.
Bradley Smith was seventh ahead of Ducati pair Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden.
After a pointed look over his shoulder, Lorenzo appeared to allow Marquez to move into the lead on lap 13, apparently content to change tactics.
However, the young Spaniard soon began to edge away, pushing ahead by half-a-second over the next few laps, but Lorenzo found a second wind and somewhat surprisingly began to battle back.
He had slashed Marquez's lead by lap 18 and a grandstand finish appeared to be on the cards, but Lorenzo was unable to get close enough to attempt a pass and the championship leader found more as the race reached a climax, digging deep with one final attack to break Lorenzo's challenge.
He put the hammer down on the final laps and in the end won convincingly by 1.356s.
Rossi showed his old fighting qualities as he came out on top in a thrilling battle for third with Bautista and Bradl.
Gresini Honda rider Bautista, who was chasing his first rostrum finish of the season, seized third with a move on the brakes at Turn 15 on the 17th lap.
Rossi, though, was equally determined to finish on the podium and with two laps remaining he dived under Bautista at Turn 7, repelling an instant response by the Spaniard to hold his position.
At the start of the final lap, Bradl slipped underneath Bautista on the brakes, pushing his fellow Honda rider wide as Rossi gained a crucial few tenths of a second.
Bautista hit back to claim fourth position but third place belonged to Rossi, who finished almost 13 seconds behind Marquez.
Crutchlow dropped out of contention in the battle for third, taking sixth ahead of Smith, with Dovizioso a lonely eighth and Nicky Hayden ninth.
Andrea Iannone completed the top ten on the Pramac Ducati while Aleix Espargaro was again the top CRT finisher in 11th.
Yonny Hernandez, making his Pramac Racing debut, was 12th following his switch from Paul Bird's team.
Aussie Damian Cudlin was a retirement on the PBM machine, capping a miserable weekend for the English team.