Aragon was one of those great current-era races … for second place. Up front, Marc Marquez had already turned his 200th GP start, and indeed the whole weekend, into a one-man show.
Marquez dominated from the first free practice session, with only Monster Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales within two seconds of his time, which was the fastest lap he turned all weekend, with wet patches on Saturday and Sunday morning.
Vinales would play a leading role in the secondary race behind him. But the long 5.077-km lap, with its variety of corners and elevation changes, had one aspect that spoiled the hopes of all Yamaha riders … the long straight of almost a full kilometre. Vinales was the fastest Yamaha at 338.6 km/h compared with Dovi’s Ducati at 346.1, only 7.5 km/h, but enough to make a difference over that long flat-out run, especially after his exit speed from the preceding corner was spoiled by rear tyre problems.
None of which bothered Marquez, whose preference for left-hand corners was well-served at the anti-clockwise circuit. His Honda recorded a mere 340.7 km/h … but he was just so fast everywhere else.
Marquez got a flying start, pursued by Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) and Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati). By the end of the first lap, Miller was in second, with Marquez already 1.1 seconds clear. From there he remained in complete control, leading by six seconds by lap 15, crossing the line 5 seconds ahead of second after slowing for celebrations as he crossed the finish line.
Vinales had taken eight laps to pass Quartararo and then Miller, who had slipped through to second on the first lap. Marquez was 4.7 seconds away, and the Yamaha rider chased valiantly. The effort would cost him dearly in grip as the race wore on. “With four laps to go, the rear tyre was gone … I nearly crashed two or three times, with the throttle closed,” he said.
Dovizioso started tenth on the grid, but finished the first lap seventh. From there he plugged away, his top speed advantage always the trump card as he passed Valentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha) and Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia. As Vinales took second he motored past Quartararo, and then steadily closed on Miller … taking him on lap 15.
Miller, in turn, had been closing again on Vinales, now to within a second, and the Ducati pair remorselessly chewed away at the gap. By lap 20 Dovi was lining him up onto the straight, driving past easily, and two laps later Miller did the same.
“I knew we could fight for the podium,” said Dovizioso. “I was ready to push from the beginning. I could be really constant, make a good lap time, and be really strong to the end.” The combination of solid tactics and vaulting horsepower was enough.
Miller’s third reflected growing maturity and tactical nous. He’d been able to let Vinales go, confident that he’d have a chance to attack later in the race.
“I switched maps really early to save the tyre, which worked. Maverick came past trying to chase down Marc, and towards the end he was struggling off the long corners. I kept my cool and brought her home.”
Front-row starter Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) was outpaced but held a worthwhile fifth, ahead of Cal Crutchlow (LCR Castrol Honda) and Aleix Espargaro, whose usually disadvantaged Aprilia was able to salvage some pride for the marque.
Valentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha) dropped back to after starting well finishing eighth after suffering tyre problems in the early stages of the race.
Five seconds down, Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) had a battered bike, a long-lap penalty and an apology to make to Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha), after knocking him down on the first lap. He was trying to make up positions after starting from 12th, and had to come through again after running wide several times.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Idemitsu Honda) took 10th from Andrea Iannone (Aprilia), Danilo Petrucci (Ducati), Miguel Oliveira, on the top Red Bull KTM and Joan Mir, on a second battered Suzuki, who had caught up in the final laps after several early run-wides with trouble braking.
Lorenzo’s nightmare continued blaming rear tyre issues for his second-last position, beating Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM) only because the Malaysian had run off with three laps to go.
Marquez has a 98 point advantage, 300 to Dovi’s 202; then Rins taking third from Petrucci, 156 to 155; and Vinales fifth on 147.
Dovizioso, Aragon MotoGP race 2019Words Michael Scott