2018 Aragon GP (MotoGP) – Preview

After a wonderful, fine, and sunny weekend at Misano, where Andrea Dovizioso took victory to help Ducati, and the Ducati Team, complete the “Italian double”, winning at both Mugello and Misano in the same season for the very first time, the MotoGP grid left the Adriatic coast of Italy to head to the desert-like surrounds of Motorland Aragón in Alcañiz in Spain for Round 14 of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship, and with six rounds remaining, you sense that something unfortunate would need to happen to deny Marc Márquez his fifth MotoGP World Championship, and his seventh world championship across all classes.

Márquez (221 points) leads the championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 67 points over Dovizioso (154 points) after finishing a safe second after sitting behind Jorge Lorenzo for the majority of the race, following his fellow Spaniard as he tried to chase down his teammate, before watching Lorenzo crash out with only a few laps to go to secure second-place, but Márquez couldn’t chase down Dovizioso, who was well out of sight by that point.

Valentino Rossi (151 points) slipped to third in the championship after struggling once again on his Yamaha, finishing in seventh as the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, and Yamaha as a manufacturer, now on their longest winless streak (22 races) in their history, with no win since the 2017 Dutch TT.

Lorenzo (130 points) is fourth in the world championship despite crashing out while trying to chase down his teammate Dovizioso, remounting to finish in 17th, while Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales (124 points) is fifth in the championship after finishing fifth at Misano as the struggles of Yamaha continued.

Closing in on Viñales is LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow (119 points), taking advantage of Lorenzo’s crash to take a well-deserved third, while Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Johann Zarco (110 points) and Alma Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci (110 points) are starting to slip back in the championship after poor results in Misano. Zarco’s struggles are particularly evident with no top six finishes in the last eight completed MotoGP races.

The two Team Suzuki Ecstar riders in Andrea Iannone (92 points) and Álex Rins (79 points) completes the Top 10 in the championship, and with some luck, should be capable of achieving a podium in one of the last six races of the season, with Dani Pedrosa (76 points), the teammate of Márquez, just outside of the Top 10 in his final season in MotoGP.

So, who is going to win the Aragon Grand Prix?

This circuit in the recent past has been a favourite for Marc Márquez, and is one of the few anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar, with Márquez winning at least three races in each of his seasons since joining the premier class on anti-clockwise circuits, and will most certainly be the one to beat.

Outside of Márquez, the two Ducati’s of Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso will be his closest challengers, with Dovizioso perhaps the only rider who could snatch the world championship away from the defending champion, but you sense last season was his best chance of winning a MotoGP World Championship.

Right now, you sense Marc Márquez is a win away from having one hand on a third-straight world championship.

 

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2017 MotoGP Aragón GP – Preview

The 14th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from Motorland Aragón in Alcañiz in Spain, and with five races remaining in the season, the battle for the championship is set to go right to the very end of the season in Valencia in Spain with three riders realistically in the championship hunt.

Marc Márquez leads the world championship on his factory Honda on 199 points after claiming victory in Misano in what was one of the best performances of his career in really wet conditions, overtaking Danilo Petrucci on the first corner of the last lap to grab maximum points after being forced to retire the race before at Silverstone due to a blown engine.

Márquez is equal on points with Andrea Dovizioso (199 points), but ahead of the factory Ducati rider due to having two more second-places. Dovizioso finished a conservative third in wet conditions at Misano, and has been very consistent throughout 2017.

However, you feel that the Italian is very much the underdog in this world championship battle, and that Márquez has, barring the retirement at Silverstone, has all of the moment heading into the last five rounds of the season, and while Márquez and the Repsol Honda Team wouldn’t admit this, I think Dovizioso and his Ducati Team would happily admit this, even though the dream for Dovizioso would be to claim what would be a hugely unlikely first MotoGP World Championship.

The other genuine contender to win the 2017 MotoGP World Championship is factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales. Viñales is third in the championship on 183 points, 16 points behind both Márquez and Dovizioso, but he, along with his factory Yamaha team, have struggled to put together a run of strong, consistent results, and you sense that Viñales has been frustrated throughout most of the season of his team’s inability to produce a fast, consistent bike that is strong in all conditions and scenarios, and you now sense that he is frustrated that he is not in a position to challenge Márquez, a rider who he believes he can match on equal machinery.

At the moment, you sense that the best Viñales can hope for in the championship is to finish second behind Márquez, but if Yamaha can improve dramatically, Viñales still has a strong hope of winning his first MotoGP World Championship.

Fourth in the world championship is the injured Valentino Rossi (157 points) on his factory Yamaha, who will attempt to race this weekend at Aragón, having been declared fit by MotoGP Medical Staff for Free Practice One. Yamaha Superbike rider Michael van der Mark will remain on stand-by just in case Rossi can’t continue for the rest of the weekend.

Dani Pedrosa (150 points) is fifth in the championship on his factory Honda, but has seen his championship hopes evaporate for another year after finishing 14th in Misano, struggling for tyre temperatures in wet conditions. Pedrosa and Honda will need to work out ways of helping out Pedrosa so that he can be competitive in all conditions. So far, Honda have most of the time failed miserably over the last 12 years to give Pedrosa the package that he needs to win the MotoGP World Championship. If he had been on a Yamaha during this time, I am sure Pedrosa would have won a premier class title, and if he was on the factory Ducati this year, I am sure Pedrosa would be the favourite to win the world championship.

What a waste of talent!

Below the top five in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship, there is a great battle for sixth in the championship that should go to the very end of the season between Johann Zarco (110 points), Danilo Petrucci (95 points), Cal Crutchlow (92 points), Jorge Lorenzo (90 points), and Jonas Folger (84 points).

However, in terms of who I am going to tip to win the Aragón Grand Prix, Marc Márquez has won here twice in MotoGP, and three times across all classes, and has taken pole position in each of his first four years in MotoGP, and in six of the last seven years across all classes.

Márquez was dominant here last year, and given the form that he is currently in, it is almost impossible to tip against him here!

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (5:55pm, and 10:05pm AEST). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (5:55pm AEST), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (9:30pm AEST), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (10:10pm and 10:35pm AEST). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 9:40am local time (5:40pm AEST), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 2:00pm local time (10:00pm AEST).