With King Marquez’s Aragon crown up for grabs, many gladiators turned up to the battle but the home favourites proved their worth and the crown almost stayed in the family. Alex Rins and Alex Marquez might have started on the fourth row of the grid but the old rivals made fantastic comebacks to dispute victory to the final corner, where Rins became the eighth different winner of the season. The youngest Marquez came within three tenths of a second of victory, with Joan Mir completing a perfect podium for the virtual home crowd, while also becoming favourite in the world championship battle.
The start told a somewhat different story, with Maverick Vinales fastest off the line, ahead of poleman Fabio Quartararo and with Franco Morbidelli joining his teammates at the front. Front row starter Cal Crutchlow dropped like a stone in the first few turns, out of the top ten and in opposing fortunes to Rins, who went from 10th to 4th in only a couple of corners. Having started 13th, Andrea Dovizioso headed straight into the top eight and once again battling rookie Marquez in the early stages.
Vinales avenged every other start he made this year, stretching a gap of seven tenths by the end of lap one, with the Petronas duo pushing to catch up but under assault from Rins by lap three. The Spaniard demoted Morbidelli for third and reeled in Quartararo, while the Italian was dropping into the clutches of Mir, Jack Miller and a fast charging Alex Marquez, who had quickly disposed of Takaaki Nakagami and Dovizioso.
Quartararo struggled to bring the gap to Vinales under half a second and Rins was sniffing around him until the end of lap 5, when the Frenchman left the door wide open at turn 16 and Rins picked up the chase, immediately reeling Vinales in. Quartararo dropped a few tenths back and got caught up by Morbidelli and Mir, the trio soon engaging in battle and Mir sweeping past the Petronas men by the end of lap 7. Alex Marquez took a few laps to get past Miller, dropping a second on the victory battle ahead but the home favourite pushed to remedy that and was soon hounding Quartararo for fifth place.
Back at the front, Rins finally attacked for the lead at the final turn, entering lap nine in charge of proceedings, while Vinales had another Suzuki nightmare coming, with Mir only half a second behind. Another second behind the podium positions, Alex Marquez made quick work of both Petronas men on lap nine while demonstrating the hottest pace amongst the leaders. The Spaniard soon got a one second gap on the duo and kept pushing to join the leading trio. Meanwhile, Quartararo was about to get in trouble with a big group hoping to claim his sixth spot, Nakagami in prime position and getting the move done at the final turn on lap 11. Dovizioso seemed stuck at the bottom of the top ten, with Miller and Crutchlow for company, but the group was quickly catching up with his main championship rival.
At the halfway point, the victory battle looked like becoming a foursome, Vinales, Mir and Marquez quickly closing in on Rins. Mir and Vinales provided some of the entertainment on lap 13 and it ended with Vinales getting pushed off the podium by Mir and Marquez and seemingly losing touch with the leaders. Morbidelli was in a lonely fifth, while Quartararo was getting swallowed by the chasing pack. The Frenchman left the top ten with 10 laps remaining and continued to lose positions at an alarming rate, out of point scoring places just one lap later.
Against all odds but not uncharacteristic for this crazy 2020, the Suzukis entered the remaining eight laps defending a 1-2 from Alex Marquez, with Vinales two seconds back. The leading trio played nice for the next few laps, Rins keeping a safe half second gap on his teammate as the race entered unknown territory in terms of tyre wear. Marquez eventually attacked Mir at turn 16 with six laps remaining and immediately brought the gap to Rins to under half a second, while leaving Mir in his shadow.
The former Moto3 teammates started the final four laps separated by less than two tenths of a second but a major moment at the final turn with three laps left slowed down Marquez’s charge a bit. However, the rookie did not give up the fight and started the final lap right behind Rins, but the Suzuki man kept him at bay until the finish line to secure victory by only two tenths from his old rival. Vinales was closing in on Mir on the final lap but the Suzuki defended to the line and snatched the championship lead. Nakagami crossed the line fifth, ahead of Morbidelli and Dovizioso and with Crutchlow, Miller and Zarco rounding out the top ten.
A bruised and struggling Quartararo finished 18th, relinquishing the world championship lead to Mir by 6 points, with Vinales 12 points down and Dovizioso saved by the bell once more, only 15 points behind the leader.
|63||Francesco Bagnaia||Ducati||21 Laps|