It was all eyes on the skies while riders were patiently sat on the grid and what they saw was moody cloud cover ranging from snow white to charcoal grey, but none of those colours ended up playing a part in the outcome of the 27-lap premier class race. Pecco Bagnaia might have felt stuck in a flashback of last Sunday but this time it was his main championship rival chasing him until the final corner. The pressure-cooker practice of Aragon served him well and Bagnaia scored his second consecutive victory, even sweeter on home soil, although Quartararo put in a great fight to protect his championship lead. Just as impressive was Enea Bastianini, the rookie starting on the third row of the grid and fighting through a pretty illustrious pack to claim a maiden MotoGP podium.
Bagnaia started the race like he finished it, keeping the lead from pole, while Quartararo briefly got ahead of Jack Miller but the front row order was quickly restored. Marc Marquez quickly climbed into fourth ahead of teammate Pol Espargaro, Jorge Martin and Aleix Espargaro, with Alex Rins, Bastianini and Joan Mir completing the top 10 on lap 1, a poor first lap dropping Johann Zarco to 11th.
While some mid-pack exchanges were getting airtime, Bagnaia was quick to extend a one second gap over the first lap, leaving teammate Miller to play wingman, seven tenths ahead of Quartararo. The Frenchman couldn’t really focus on reeling in the Ducatis as he had another one behind him, Martin robbing him of third on the second lap. The exchanges between Martin and Quartararo dropped them over a second behind the factory Ducatis but the fight was cut short on lap 3, when Martin slid out of 4th at turn 14 and made life easier for Quartararo. The Frenchman was left with 1.2 seconds to recover on Miller and the same gap kept him ahead of the Aprilia-led chasing group, made up of the Espargaros, the elder Marquez, Bestia and the Suzukis.
Back at the front, Bagnaia maintained a one second gap to his teammate, with Quartararo pushing to catch up with the Australian. Marquez picked up the lead of the chasing group on lap 5, helped by a mistake from Aleix Espargaro, but was nearly 3 seconds behind the podium men and soon under attack from a sensational Bastianini. The rookie demoted the Honda veteran only one lap later and the shenanigans helped Quartararo extend his advantage to 3.5 seconds. Meanwhile, Rins and Aleix Espargaro were on Marquez’s tail, with Mir dropping one second behind his three compatriots.
Not that he needed it but Bagnaia got some help in extending his advantage to two seconds when Miller and Quartararo both ran well wide at turn 13 on lap 9, also aiding the chasing group in reducing their deficit to 2.7 seconds. With Bastianini as one of the fastest men on track, that gap continued to drop, the Italian taking Marquez and Rins with him but with significant gaps appearing behind them for Aleix Espargaro and Mir.
Bagnaia continued to revel in his 2.5 second advantage, while Quartararo bided his time to attack Miller for second until the halfway point of the race, when he found the inside at turn 6. The chasers still led by Bastianini were struggling to bridge the gap and Rins and Marquez were busy trading places behind the Italian. Aleix Espargaro, Mir and Pol Espargaro were having pretty distant rides at this stage, while Pirro had some company in the battle for 10th from Takaaki Nakagami and Brad Binder.
Despite picking up the pursuit of the leader, Quartararo struggled to close the gap to Bagnaia initially, although he did keep Miller at arm’s length. The Australian’s job seemed to be done as he dropped one second back with 10 laps remaining and allowed Bastianini to draw closer, leaving Rins and Marquez to settle 5th place, with Aleix starting to sniff around too. Part of that battle was settled when Rins crashed out at turn 1, but Espargaro was quick to challenge Marquez for 5th, while Mir also found some late pace and was trying to close a one second gap to the duo.
Back at the front, Quartararo steadily started to reel in Bagnaia, the gap down to 1.5 seconds with 8 laps remaining, but all eyes were on the battle for third where Bastianini claimed the position at turn 13 and quickly extended a gap ahead of Miller. Although he got demoted from the podium positions, Miller had a cushy 3 second gap to manage to Marquez over the remaining 7 laps.
Getting within a second of Bagnaia was a slow job but Quartararo kept at it and continued to post red sector times, managing to bridge the gap with 5 laps remaining and it started to look like an actual victory battle. The championship leader started the final 3 laps glued to his rival’s rear tyre but could not find a way around the Ducati to even attempt a move and eventually had to settle for second. Four seconds behind, Bastianini had a pretty comfortable ride to third to secure his first podium in MotoGP. Another five seconds behind, Marquez caught up with Miller for the final three laps but took too long to get past and allowed Mir to join the battle for fourth. Mir demoted Marquez at the start of the final lap and attempted a move on Miller later on but sent them both wide and allowed Marquez to swoop back in to reclaim fourth. Mir crossed the finish line fifth but dropped one position for exceeding track limits on the last lap and awarded 5th to Miller. Pol Esparagaro, Aleix Espargaro, Brad Binder and Takaaki Nakagami completed the top 10.
Despite missing out on the win by three tenths of a second, Quartararo keeps a comfortable 48 point advantage over Bagnaia in the championship standings, Mir dropping 67 points back.
|42||Alex Rins||Suzuki||10 Laps|
|27||Iker Lecuona||KTM||13 Laps|
|89||Jorge Martin||Ducati||17 Laps|