Marc Marquez was hoping to make an impact on his return to MotoGP at the Motorland Aragon circuit. He made an impact alright, but not quite the one he was intending. A lightning start, collisions with Fabio Quartararo and Takaaki Nakagami – much, much more on that later – and a withdrawal due to having a chunk of Quartararo's fairing stuck in the back of his bike. Marquez had come up short on his objective: "Try to get kilometers, try to finish the race, and we didn't get the target. I just did one lap," he said after the race.
We will come to apportioning blame for the Quartararo-Marquez crash later, and how Enea Bastianini came to the championship leader's aid at the end of the race. The race itself was in some ways a repeat of last year: a waiting game, with a burst of excitement settling the outcome in the last couple of laps.
Bastianini's victory wrapped up the manufacturers championship for Ducati again with five races to go. There is no doubt that the Ducati is now the best bike on the MotoGP grid. But the halfhearted celebrations in the factory Ducati Lenovo garage betrayed just how much more the riders championship matters to Ducati.
Pecco Bagnaia closed the deficit to to Fabio Quartararo to just 10 points at Aragon. But the season is far from over. With five races left, there are 125 points still on the table. In theory, Luca Marini, twelfth and 120 points behind Quartararo, is still mathematically capable of winning the championship, as are the eleven riders ahead of him.
Realistically, the title will be fought out between the top three, with 17 points separating Quartararo, Bagnaia, and Aleix Espargaro, with Enea Bastianini, 48 points behind, a wildcard. But as we have seen, a lot can happen in five races. And the cost of failure increases with each passing round.
Which leads me nicely on to the first-lap incident between Marc Marquez and Fabio Quartararo. Following events live, it looked a lot like recklessness on the part of the Repsol Honda rider, especially in the second incident which caused Takaaki Nakagami to crash. But watching the replays on the MotoGP.com website from all of the available viewpoints and camera angles, and a more nuanced picture emerges.
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