Jorge Lorenzo slashed Valentino Rossi's lead in the MotoGP World Championship by nine points after a masterful start to finish triumph in the Aragon MotoGP.

Rossi engaged in a frantic battle with Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa on the final lap as the pair traded blows in a pulsating duel for the runner-up spot, with a rejuvenated Pedrosa silencing those critics who questioned his stomach for a fight, coming out on top to give Honda some consolation after Marc Marquez slid out of second place on lap two.

Movistar Yamaha title challenger Lorenzo is now 14 points behind his team-mate with four rounds of the championship remaining, setting up what promises to be a gripping finale after sealing a dominant win in Spain.

Andrea Iannone was fourth throughout and bolstered his championship position on the Ducati GP15, while team-mate Andrea Dovizioso - who started from row five - held on for fifth after coming under pressure from Suzuki's Aleix Espargaro.

British riders Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) completed the top eight while Ireland's Eugene Laverty got the better of his Aspar Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden by 0.09 seconds to finish as the top Open rider for the first time in his rookie premier class season.

Lorenzo made the perfect start to take the lead into the first corner from second place on the front row, with Iannone also getting the jump on pole man Marquez.

Conscious of the importance of staying in touch with Lorenzo, Marquez wasted no time in snatching second place from Iannone as he charged after the factory M1, with Pedrosa holding fourth from Pol Espargaro and Rossi.

Lorenzo's lightning pace saw him open a lead of half a second over Marquez by the end of lap one and disaster struck for the reigning world champion, who lost the front at Turn 12 in his efforts to cling on to Lorenzo.

The Majorcan set a new lap record on his second lap of 1m 48.120s as he stretched further away at the front, holding an advantage of 1.9 seconds over Iannone and Pedrosa, with Rossi through to fourth ahead of Espargaro on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine and Andrea Dovizioso, who was sixth after a superb start from the fifth row.

A mistake by Espargaro at Turn 7 on lap four saw the Spaniard drop back as Lorenzo continued to dictate matters at the front, now 2.7 seconds ahead of Pedrosa as Rossi now moved into third with a pass on Iannone at Turn 4 on the brakes.

With Lorenzo settling into his trademark rhythm in the lead and rattling off lap after consistent lap, Rossi was happy to sit on Pedrosa's tail as the pair held a steady gap over Iannone, who was comfortable in fourth.

Bradley Smith, involved in a battle for fifth with Dovizioso, Aleix Espargaro and Cal Crutchlow, saw his chances hit after a mistake at Turn 1, with the British rider running off track on the satellite M1.

By lap 15, Dovizioso appeared to be holding up Suzuki's Espargaro, Crutchlow and Smith with fifth place very much up for grabs.

All eyes though were on the battle for second as Rossi began to put the pressure on Pedrosa and the 36-year-old pounced for the first time at Turn 4 on lap 19, running wide as Pedrosa calmly reclaimed the position.

It was a taste of what was to come as Rossi made another pass on the next lap at the first corner on the brakes, with Pedrosa cutting back to move second again before the Yamaha rider edged ahead briefly once more, only to run wide as Pedrosa hit back again.

Rossi attempted another pass on the brakes at Turn 1 on the penultimate lap but ran on, allowing Pedrosa to sweep through.

The pair weren't prepared to give an inch as they slogged it out in front of the thousands of Spanish fans and on a red-hot final lap, Rossi appeared to have gained the upper hand as he made his pass stick at Turn 4, only for Pedrosa to force his way through on the Yamaha's inside at Turn 7, pushing Rossi onto the kerb as the nine-time world champion's feet came off the pegs.

The momentum was now with Pedrosa but Rossi somehow made a lunge from a long way back to go second again at the bus-stop chicane, but lost his drive onto the straight as a result and Pedrosa pulled clear in a riveting finish to the race.

Lorenzo won by 2.6 seconds in the end and the championship now takes on a different complexion ahead of he next round in Japan.

Series rookie Laverty finished as top Open rider by only 0.090s from team-mate Hayden in 14th after a brilliant ride on the RC213V-RS.

Pol Espargaro, who qualified fourth, finished ninth behind Crutchlow and Smith, with Yonny Hernandez 10th on the Pramac Ducati.

Maverick Vinales (Suzuki), Scott Redding on the EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda and Aprilia's Alvaro Bautista were the top 13.

Alex de Angelis came off at Turn 7 on lap six while Danilo Petrucci was a faller at Turn 14 on lap 10.

Aragon MotoGP:1.Jorge Lorenzo2.Dani Pedrosa3.Valentino Rossi4.Andrea Iannone5.Andrea Dovizioso6.Aleix Espargaro7.Cal Crutchlow8.Bradley Smith9.Pol Espargaro10.Yonny Hernandez11.Maverick Vi?ales12.Scott Redding13.Alvaro Bautista14.Eugene Laverty15.Nicky Hayden16.Hector Barbera17.Loris Baz18.Stefan Bradl19.Jack Miller20.Mike Di Meglio21.Toni Elias
Karel Abraham
Danilo Petrucci
Alex De Angelis
Marc Marquez

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