Valentino Rossi suffered some serious misfortune at the Aragon GP as rear tyre issues prevented the Movistar Yamaha, who led the race temporarily, from winning and instead he had to settle for third on the podium after the 14th round of the MotoGP season where they were in Spain for the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon.
Crash during practice for Rossi
The ‘Sunday man’ spent most of the weekend focusing on race pace for towards the end of the race as he qualified in sixth position on the grid. MotorLand Aragon is a very technical track and can catch out even the most experienced of riders; as was the case with Rossi who on cold tyres fell off at the corkscrew as his M1 flipped him over to the other side of the bike.
Rossi at the front in contention for a podium from start of race
Come race day, Rossi was able to make up positions immediately at the start of the race, and settled in in fourth position in the laps where he began his pursuit of leaders Maverick Vinales (Team Suzuki Ecstar), teammate Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda). Keen to close the gap between him and Marquez in the championship, Rossi pushed hard, as did the others, as he worked to finish as possible; he needed to be in front of Marquez ideally.
Championship rival Marquez makes a mistake
Rossi first gained a position when Marquez crashed at turn seven on the third lap, when the front tucked under on his Repsol Honda, and then saved it but ran wide of the track. The Spaniard lost four places due to the incident and Rossi was on the podium for the first time. Luckily for the Italian, he avoided contact with Marquez as he ran wide at the turn otherwise it could have been a completely different story.
He then took on his teammate; Rossi was all over the back of Lorenzo in second by lap five, and as they entered turn one next time round, he passed him cleanly on the inside and was second. He had to make the move because Marquez was gaining behind him; he had passed Dovizioso and Rossi would have been the next rider feeling the pressure from him.
Rossi lead in Aragon
Marquez then passed Lorenzo as Rossi applied the pressure to race leader Vinales. Turn one of lap nine, Rossi overtook Vinales to take the lead at the Aragon GP for the first time; although Vinales almost came close to hitting the rear of Rossi’s M1 as he looked to overtake him at the same place on the next lap.
Rossi’s lead only lasted for just almost three laps as Marquez had passed Vinales and closed the gap between him and the Italian down to 0.3 seconds. Rossi’s tyres had started to go off and he missed his line on lap 12 and Marquez was able to overtake on the inside of the left-hand corner turn 15; a corner that Marquez had favoured throughout the race.
Lorenzo steals second from Rossi
Rossi remained on Marquez’s tail for a few laps as he looked for a way to reclaim the lead but he found himself under pressure by lap 17 from his teammate who had also made his way past Vinales to claim a spot on the podium.
He chased the Italian for two more laps before first attempting to overtake him on the straight but was unable to outbrake Rossi. Instead as they passed through the corkscrew on lap 19, Lorenzo had the inside line on the left-hand corner and stole second from his teammate.
Rossi acted to avoid collision with his teammate
Rossi followed him closely taking completely different lines and looking like he was the faster out of the two as they lapped MotorLand Aragon. He was surely to make a move but just two laps remained and it was a matter of when would be the best time to do it. He did it sooner rather than later, but messed it up and ran wide running off the track into the tarmac area. It was race over. Lorenzo got away and not enough time remained to make up the lost ground.
Marquez extends his lead in the championship
Rossi had to settle for third on the podium, a result he was clearly disappointed in as he put on a brave face as he took to the bottom step. He conceded nine points to Marquez with the result, which meant that the work he did at his home round on Misano, where he closed the gap by seven points, was undone and he lost an extra two on top. Marquez is now on 248 points where as Rossi is now 52 points behind on 196. Lorenzo closed the gap between him and Rossi and is now 4 behind on 182 points.
Rossi's rear Michelin was spinning at end of race
The nine times world champion described how they, “started with a different setting”, in an attempt to be “stronger towards the end of the race”. However, he found that “in the final stages” the rear tyre was “spinning a lot”, but he did think that “everyone was in the same boat anyway”.
He felt it was “a shame” that with just “two laps to go” that he “made a mistake in braking” as that he “had to go wide”. He knew that, “If not for that we could have fought for the second place” but said, “Anyway the podium is OK.” He claimed he was happy because it’s a "good podium”.
Rossi disappointed about losing out to Lorenzo
He feels that in Aragon, they “always suffer a bit”. He admitted he felt it was “a shame” and that he was “not fully happy” as he “wanted to arrive as the first of the Yamahas and in front of Lorenzo”. However, he found that “unfortunately in the second half” that Lorenzo was faster than him.
Rossi said “it’s a shame” as he revealed he “had some cards up [his] sleeve for the last laps” yet was unable able to use them because even though he “was there” he ended up making his mistake. The Italian described how he “decided to go straight because else it would have been very dangerous” for both he and Lorenzo.
Talking about the championship he said, “I lost four points to Jorge” but reassured himself saying “it’s another podium”. Now in the four remaining rounds he hopes they can improve and that they can be “more competitive for the overseas races”.