Expectations were sky high ahead of the second premier class clash in Aragon, especially for the Honda camp, but the 2020 season likes to reverse fortunes come Sunday afternoon and saw one Yamaha one step ahead of the competition. Franco Morbidelli led all the way from turn 5 on the first lap to the checkered flag to secure a second victory of the season, keeping the Suzuki’s at bay. Alex Rins looked like he was preparing a late bid for the win but had to wave the white flag in the final handful of laps, while Joan Mir made it a third consecutive double podium for Suzuki. Having started 12th, the youngster made a quick comeback to join the podium and extend his lead in the world championship.
Honda’s dream weekend quickly turned into a nightmare, as Takaaki Nakagami led from pole position into turn one from fellow front row starters Morbidelli and Rins, but did not make it past turn 5 as he got harshly punished for taking a slightly wide line. That left Morbidelli and Rins in charge of proceedings, with Johann Zarco third, while Mir had made a lightning start to go from 12th of the grid to fifth on lap one, sandwiched between title rivals Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo. Cal Crutchlow, Pol Espargaro, Alex Marquez and Miguel Oliveira completed the top ten after the first lap, while Jack Miller and Brad Binder tangled at turn 2 and ended in the gravel.
By lap 3, a lead group of five was building a one second gap to Quartararo, who was holding off the remaining Hondas and KTMs. Cal Crutchlow was sniffing around the Frenchman for a while but Alex Marquez picked up that mission and got past the Petronas man by lap four. The Spaniard seemed to have warmed up his hard front tyre nicely and did not need long to catch up with the leaders, Mir getting a déjà vu by lap five, with Marquez on his tail and Vinales ahead of him. The trio were pushing to catch up with Zarco, who was being dropped by the two leaders, Morbidelli setting a fast pace ahead of Rins. Meanwhile, Andrea Dovizioso was up to 12th, having started 17th.
By lap 6, Morbidelli and Rins had one second of advantage over Zarco, who in turn had one second in hand over the chasing group, where Mir and Marquez took control from Vinales and looked threatening for the lone Ducati in the podium battle. Vinales seemed to be losing a few tenths here and there and dropped into the clutches of future teammate Quartararo, who had a sizeable group waiting to pounce, including Crutchlow, Aleix Espargaro, Dovizioso and all the KTMs left in the race.
Back at the front, Morbidelli and Rins had a comfortable lead of almost two seconds over Zarco by lap ten but the Frenchman had Mir and Marquez breathing down his neck. The Spaniards bided their time despite seeing the leaders break away, until Mir attacked with 13 laps remaining and Marquez followed his example that same lap at turn 16. The Ducati briefly fought back at turn 1 but had no answer for the Honda for the rest of the lap. However, the exchange left Marquez one second behind Mir, who was slow to reel in the leaders. Meanwhile, Vinales and Quartararo seemed to be having a repeat of last weekend, with Pol Espargaro and Oliveira keen to push them towards the bottom of the top ten and with Crutchlow and Dovizioso also up for the fight.
The final 10 laps started with Morbidelli and Rins still comfortably in the lead, but Mir got some breathing space after Alex Marquez’s hard front had enough at turn 2 and ruled him out of a podium hattrick, leaving the premier class with no riders to have finished all races. Zarco was left three seconds down on the podium positions and two and a half seconds ahead of Pol Espargaro, who had broken apart from Vinales and the feisty battle between Oliveira and Quartararo. Dovizioso must have felt like Christmas came early as he saw Quartararo only half a second ahead of him with 8 laps remaining but he immediately ran wide at the reverse corkscrew and dropped outside of the top ten once again.
Rins was yet to show a wheel to Morbidelli but there was no rush as Mir did not seem able to reduce the gap significantly. However, Morbidelli had other plans and started to drop Rins, the gap nearing one second with 6 laps remaining. Mir had a pretty lonely ride behind them, but no such luck for Zarco, who was getting reeled in by Pol Espargaro and Oliveira after the KTM duo dropped Vinales. Espargaro robbed former teammate Zarco of fourth with 3 laps remaining and Oliveira tried to replicate that but Zarco wasn’t keen on giving up another position. Another second down the road, Quartararo encountered an unlikely adversary in Aleix Espargaro in the battle for 8th position, but the Aprilia suffered some sort of failure at the final turn with three laps left.
Morbidelli took the checkered flag two seconds ahead of Rins, with Mir making it another solid day for Suzuki. Pol Espargaro in fourth scored KTM’s best result around Motorland Aragon and Zarco completed the top five as the best Ducati rider, followed by Oliveira, Vinales, Quartararo, Lecuona and Petrucci in the top ten. Dovizioso continued to fade in the closing stages, dropping down to 13th position.
Mir’s solid run of podiums extends his lead in the world championship to 14 points from an underwhelming Quartararo, with Vinales another 5 points back. Morbidelli’s victory brings him back in contention, 25 points down on the leader, while Dovizioso drops to fifth, 28 points behind Mir. Rins goes to Valencia sixth, with a 32 point deficit.
|41||Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia||3 Laps|
|73||Alex Marquez||Honda||10 Laps|
|63||Francesco Bagnaia||Ducati||18 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|30||Takaaki Nakagami||Honda||0 Lap|
|43||Jack Miller||Ducati||0 Lap|
|33||Brad Binder||KTM||0 Lap|