Jorge Lorenzo claimed his first victory of the 2014 MotoGP season after rainfall led to a dramatic finish at Motorland Aragon. The Yamaha rider was part of a three-way fight for the lead with Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa but his decision to change motorcycles proved crucial as both Repsol Honda riders slid off trying to reach the chequered flag on slicks.
Despite overnight rain, the Grand Prix began in dry conditions but with the skies looking increasingly ominous, the possibility of a flag-to-flag race loomed large as the red lights went out. Andrea Iannone was unaffected by the tension and powered into an early lead but the Pramac rider found out how damp the grass verges were in cruel fashion on lap two, destroying his new Ducati GP14.2 at turn eleven. The experienced heads weren’t immune to mishaps though with Valentino Rossi skating off track on lap four before being ejected from his YZR-M1 when it hit a damp patch. The Misano winner was stretchered away but escaped serious injury.
Polesitter Marquez inherited the lead but Lorenzo looked the more confident of the two when drizzle began to fall and powered past his compatriot on lap nine. Now with the benefit of a reference point in front of him, Marc regrouped and was back in front by the time the white flags were waved, indicating the enforcement of flag-to-flag rules and presenting the riders with the option to change motorcycles.
Dani Pedrosa had kept a watching brief throughout as his two adversaries went wheel-to-wheel but he finally came to life with seven to go, passing both Lorenzo and Marquez in the space of three corners to take the lead. Conditions were now really starting to become treacherous and sixth-placed Aleix Espargaro had seen enough, changing to his second bike on wet tyres. The Forward rider had been disputing that position with Stefan Bradl, Cal Crutchlow, Bradley Smith and Alvaro Bautista and that quartet made the switch themselves a lap later.
Bravely, the leaders stayed out but Pedrosa’s gamble backfired with four laps remaining as his slick rubber offered no grip as hit the brakes for turn one. Almost lost in the drama, Lorenzo had crept in for a change of bike and was back out in second, leaving Marquez as the sole rider on slicks and four laps in which to hang on. The world champion could only manage one of them though before succumbing to the slippery circuit, tumbling at turn two. Lorenzo thus inherited the lead and eased home to a memorable victory, Movistar Yamaha’s second in a row.
Aleix Espargaro’s early call to change machines proved inspired as the Spaniard rose to second. Cal Crutchlow also benefitted to take a magnificent third for his first Ducati podium, missing out on Aleix’s second spot by just 0.017s on the line. Stefan Bradl was fourth while Bradley Smith recovered from a disastrous opening lap, where he tumbled to nineteenth, to beat his Tech 3 teammate Pol Espargaro to fifth, the rookie paying for a relatively late bike change.
Alvaro Bautista was seventh for Gresini while Hiroshi Aoyama, Nicky Hayden and Scott Redding ensured a trio of production Hondas would round out the top ten.