With just five rounds remaining of the 2017 MotoGP Championship, Motorland Aragón hosts the third Spanish round of the year. Following Aragón the series enters the fly-away rounds of Japan, Australia and Malaysia, before returning to mainland Europe for the season finale at Valencia.
The fight for the championship couldn’t be tighter, with Honda’s Marc Marquez and Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso level on 199 points at the head of the championship. In third place, sixteen points behind the pair, is Maverick Vinales on the factory Yamaha.
What was two rounds ago looking like a five-horse race for the championship is now looking distinctly as though the championship will be taken by one of the aforementioned three riders. With Valentino Rossi having to sit out the last round due to a broken leg sustained in an enduro accident, and Dani Pedrosa only managing 14th place last time out, the two seasoned competitors are more than likely out of the running for another year.
Rossi is not yet completely ruled out of making a comeback at Aragón. After 20 dry laps of the Misano circuit on Tuesday to test his fitness, he has been cleared to travel where a final decision will be taken. Should he ride, it will be 22 days after the accident when he broke his right tibia and fibula.
Regardless of Rossi’s view on his fitness the final decision on whether he races will be made by the doctors. Aragón however is likely to remain one of only three circuits on the MotoGP calendar where Rossi has not yet tasted victory.
At last years Aragón round it was Marquez who took victory, claiming his fourth win of five for the season. His fifth win came at the next round in Motegi, Japan where the young Spaniard clinched his third MotoGP crown. It’s highly unlikely that Marquez will achieve similar this year with both Dovizioso and Vinales snapping at his heels.
Pedrosa may yet have a say in the championship, though highly unlikely that he will be able to mount a challenge for the title Honda will be keen for him to get himself between Marquez and his two pursuers. Whether Pedroasa has the pace remains to be seen, and if he does it is by no means a foregone conclusion that he will settle for following his compatriot at a safe distance. In the four years Marquez has been competing in MotoGP he has started from pole every year at Aragón, wining on two occasions.
Ominously for Dovizioso, in the seven years MotoGP has competed at Aragon there have only been two occasions when no Spanish riders have stood on either of the top two steps of the podium. On both occasions this was by virtue of Casey Stoner victories. The first of those victories was in 2010 on the Ducati, since then the marques best results have been two third place finishes. Should Dovizioso score one point or more this weekend he will be the first rider since 2010 to score 200 points in a season, his third place finish at Misano was his 40th career podium.
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 199 points
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 199
3. Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) 183
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 157
5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 150
6. Johann Zarco (Yamaha) 110
Series leader Franco Morbidelli crashed out of the race at San Marino while leading leaving the door open for his main rival, Thomas Luthi, to close the gap at the top of the championship. Luthi duly obliged by taking second place, gaining 20 points on Morbidelli and narrowing his deficit to the Italian to just nine points. With fellow Swiss rider Dominique Aegerter taking the race win in Misano, it was the first time that Switzerland had claimed a 1-2 in Grand Prix racing. It was also the first time since 1983 that two Swiss riders had shared the podium.
Last years Aragon race was won by British rider Sam Lowes, with Morbidelli and Luthi finishing third and fourth respectively. Indeed, both riders had solid ends to the season, with Luthi just edging things with two wins and one further podium finish from the final four races. Morbidelli meanwhile managed four podium finishes; two seconds and two thirds. If the pair can repeat this form over the final five races we are in for an intriguing final round in Valencia.
1 Franco Morbidelli (Kalex) 223 points
2 Thomas Luthi (Kalex) 214
3 Alex Marquez (Kalex) 155
4 Miguel Oliveira (KTM) 141
5 Francesco Bagnaia (Kalex) 124
6 Takaaki Nakagami (Kalex) 109
For only the second time in Moto3, all the riders who finished the race at Misano scored points. The first time was Le mans in 2012. Joan Mir’s second place in San Marino, his ninth podium finish of the season gives him a 61 point lead over second placed Romano Fenati. Even though Fenati won the race, reducing Mirs lead by five points, the gap between first and second remains the second highest ever in Moto3 after 13 races.
Fenati’s win made it 12 wins from 13 races for Honda in 2017. San Marino also saw the tenth all Honda podium of the year. If Fenati can once again finish on the podium at Aragon he will draw level with Alex Rins who currently holds the record for most Moto3 Podiums.
1 Joan Mir (Honda) 246 points
2 Romano Fenati (Honda) 185
3 Aron Canet (Honda) 162
4 Jorge Martin (Honda) 121
5 Fabio Di Giannantonio (Honda) 117
6 Andrea Migno (KTM) 98