MotoGP wrapped up the European leg of the season in Aragon on Sunday. Brad Binder sealed the 2016 Moto3 World Championship. The victory makes Binder the third South African Moto3 World Champion.
Brad Binder Seals Historic World Championship, The Remaining Championships Intensify
Moto3 qualifying saw Enea Bastianini on pole with Jorge Navarro and Livio Loi lined up alongside him. Championship leader Brad Binder qualified fifth. To give Bastianini and Navarro a slim chance of closing up, Binder had to record a DNF. Mahindra’s hopes of another strong finish rested on the shoulders of Jorge Martin.
In Moto2, Sam Lowes was on pole position with a delighted Alex Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami beside him. The championship battle was between Johann Zarco and Alex Rins, but Lowes mathematically had a chance. Things started looking up for the Briton as his rivals ended up fifth and 13th, respectively. Meanwhile in the main category, Marquez dominated qualifying. Along with him were Suzuki rider Maverick Vinales and Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo. Valentino Rossi, too, was lurking on the second row.
It was a classic Moto3 race with more than 10 bikes squabbling for the lead. Loi was penalized for an unauthorized gearbox and sent to the back of the grid. He eventually would finish 18th. Aron Canet started fifth but was bundled down at the start. Canet would end the race in 22nd, out of the points. Although he struggled with illness, Joan Mir put on a feisty display to finish a respectable fifth. This despite starting 27th.
Mahindra’s Francesco Bagnaia struggled to reach points, but Jorge Martin stepped up to the task and finishing sixth. Bastianini, Navarro, and Binder broke away early. However, the rest of the grid soon caught up as the three swapped positions. Bastianini’s teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio also added his two-pence to the party. In the end, Jorge Navarro won the race with Binder and Bastianini in tow. With that, Brad Binder became the third South African rider to become a world champion after Jon Ekerold and Kork Ballington.
Sam Lowes bolted off at the start and dragged Alex Marquez with him. Takaaki Nakagami stuck with the lead pair before being caught by Franco Morbidelli and Tom Luthi. Johann Zarco endured yet another nightmare race as he dropped like a stone through the field. However he would fight back as the race progressed. It wasn’t to be for the Frenchman, as he could only muster eighth place.
Fortunately for Zarco, his main championship rival Alex Rins didn’t fare much better. The Spaniard finished in 6th to get within 2 points of Zarco. Sam Lowes dominated the race and brought himself back in the championship tussle. Alex Marquez finally got rid of his reputation of choking while in a good position, with a fine second place. Morbidelli rounded out the podium to make things even better for the Marc VDS Team.
Marc Marquez started on pole with Maverick Vinales and Jorge Lorenzo next to him in the all-Spanish first row. Rossi started sixth alongside Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. Andrea Iannone was absent because his injury was still bothering him. He was thus replaced by Michele Pirro. In the race, Maverick Vinales stunned the entire field by sweeping past Marquez, Lorenzo, and Rossi. Vinales led the race for a long time but was hunted down by Rossi. Finally, with a handful of laps to go, Vinales made a crucial mistake and lost three positions to end the race in fourth, but the battle was on up ahead.
Marquez broke away from Rossi and Lorenzo caught up to the Italian. What followed between the Yamaha riders was utterly nail-biting, particularly for Lin Jarvis. Lorenzo sporting a great white shark on his helmet hunted down and passed Rossi after an intense dogfight. This display certainly answers questions about whether Lorenzo has lost his focus. Marquez comfortably crossed the line 2.7 seconds ahead of his compatriot and a further 5.9 seconds ahead of Rossi. Marquez now has a 52-point lead over Rossi and Lorenzo is another 66 points behind.
Now over to Japan in 2 weeks time for the flyaway races.