At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the 2017 season of the MotoGP is unpredictable beyond anyone’s imagination. There have been umpteen instances where the final outcome of the race has differed completely from what was expected. So, Marc Marquez winning the Aragon GP despite not feeling comfortable with his bike shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Besides Marquez “fighting against the bike” and his usual on-the-limit antics, there were a few more takeaways from the Aragon GP. Rossi’s comeback after being badly injured just a couple weeks ago was remarkable, to say the least. Although the odds of him winning the tenth title look meek this year, the Italian is determined to give his best to stay relevant in the championship battle. However, his title hopes will only be realised this year if other contenders – Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso and his teammate Maverick Vinales collectively do some major goof up in the coming rounds. Not to mention, Pedrosa is back in the hunt now and after taking the second place behind his Repsol Honda teammate at Aragon, Pedrosa now sits fourth in the points table – two points ahead of Rossi.
All told, you can say that Marquez now has his sights firmly set on the championship trophy. And, at Aragon, his grit and determination were on display yet again as he went on to win the race – despite not having a favourable start and good feeling with the machine the whole weekend.
Vinales was on pole ahead on Jorge Lorenzo and Rossi, while Marquez was fifth – sandwiched between Cal Crutchlow and Dani Pedrosa. As we’ve been seeing in the past few rounds, Lorenzo took the holeshot in the beginning yet again, albeit this time he led the race for most of the part – something that reminded many of his flawless winning streaks back in the time when he was back with Yamaha. More impressive than Lorenzo's performance, though, was the injured Rossi. Despite being in recovery mode, he was shockingly running second in the first part of the race right. Dovizioso and Marquez were right behind, as pole-man, Vinales, dropped back to fifth, where he was being constantly stalked by Pedrosa.
It was visually evident that Marquez struggled with the bike during the race. The Repsol Honda man had a couple of hairy moments in the first couple of laps – like, almost losing the front-end twice, overcooking a corner and running wide, etc. However, Marquez wasn’t going to back off. He first displaced Dovizioso for the third spot and then quickly made a move on Rossi. Both of them had no answer to Marquez’ searing pace. Marquez’ next target was, of course, Lorenzo, and he overtook the Ducati rider without any real drama.
While Marquez was on the charge at the front, his teammate was going all guns blazing as well. After being stuck behind Vinales for one lap too many, Pedrosa overtook the Yamaha rider when Vinales made a small mistake and ran wide. Once past Vinales, Pedrosa picked up Dovizioso and Rossi in no time – the Repsol Honda man’s lap-times were now as fast as the race leader.
After literally squeezing himself ahead of Rossi, Pedrosa was now the man on the move - he put the fastest lap of the race. However, while he was able to catch and beat Lorenzo – who now had “grip” issues, Pedrosa needed a couple of laps more before he could challenge Marquez. That never really happened, though. Marquez took the chequered flag, although the difference between the two riders was just under a second at the finish line.
Lorenzo finished third, but it was definitely his best race of the season. Sure, he’s been on the podium before at Jerez, but this time around, he was only 2 seconds behind the winner - a huge improvement, you've to say. Vinales put up a late show as he finished the race in fourth ahead of Rossi. Aleix Espargaro impressed yet again as he finished sixth, while Dovizioso – who was jointly leading the championship with Marquez before this round – finished in seventh. Alvaro Bautista, Johann Zarco and Pol Espargaro rounded out the top ten.
As for the championship, Marquez (224) leads the way with a 16-point advantage over Dovizioso (208). Vinales is further down at 196 while Pedrosa and Rossi - if not virtually out of contention - are still around with 170 and 168 points, respectively. There are four more races to go and 100 points to fight for. Is there one final twist to the championship? Well, you can’t bet against that happening, could you?