On Sunday, the Marc Marquez Express continued to rumble through the MotoGP landscape, laying waste to the field in Round 14 at Motorland Aragon. Andrea Dovizioso, bless his heart, flogged his factory Ducati from 10th at the start to 2nd at the finish, keeping the championship at least breathing until Buriram. And Jack Miller put a second Ducati on the podium after out-dueling Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales.

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With his eighth win of the season, Marc Marquez has a clean 300 points, and a 98-point lead over Andrea Dovizioso.

Let’s not kid ourselves that this is suddenly a contest again. Marquez has a magic number of three heading to Thailand. If Marquez manages to add a mere three points to his present lead over Dovizioso he will clinch the title. A win would close out the world championship for the sixth time in the seven years in the premier class, regardless of what Dovi might do.

Practice and Qualifying

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Already dealing with having to replace Johann Zarco with Mika Kallio, KTM was dealt another setback as Pol Espargaro broke his wrist in a crash during practice.

In the play Camelot, by law, it cannot rain until after sundown. Which is what happened at Aragon on Friday and Saturday overnights. A dry Friday produced stylish results, Marquez and the Yamahas communing in both sessions. Unbeknownst to anyone, the fastest lap of the weekend would be Marquez in FP1 on his Lap 6, a 1:46.869, rendering my prediction of another fallen lap record on Saturday incorrect. A wet track on Saturday morning caused headaches in all three classes. In MotoGP, many of the riders didn’t bother going out for FP3, confident that today’s race would be dry, automatic passages to Q2 already decided. Order was restored in FP4 on a dry track with Marquez and the Yamahas back in charge. KTM pilot Pol Espargaro broke his wrist in a P4 fall and would miss the race, the Austrian MotoGP program seeming somehow snakebit.

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Marc Marquez qualified in pole position for the ninth time this season.

Q1 included the customary, um, underachievers, peppered by the presence of Franco Morbidelli, Alex Rins and Danilo Petrucci. Morbidelli sailed through to Q2, with a dogged Andrea Iannone – remember him? – gliding his Aprilia into the second shuttle to Q2, destroying the moods of Rins and Takaaki Nakagami, among others. Q2, conceded in advance by acclimation of the riders to #93, produced its usual frenetic finish and a crowd-pleasing front row of Marquez, Fabio Quartararo and Viñales, with Valentino Rossi skulking in P6. Dovizioso and his Ducati, my third choice for the podium, the only remaining credible title threat to Marquez, looked haunted, sitting in P10, virtually dead in the water.

The Race

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Fabio Quartararo, Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi were among the leaders early in the race.

Marquez took the hole shot and got away from the start, leading the field by a second at the end of Lap 1. The contest for second place generally included Viñales, Quartararo, and Miller, later expanded to include Dovizioso. The Yamahas were strong early in the race but gradually, after getting pounded on the back straight for 23 laps, gave way to the superior power of the Ducatis. Rossi, looking more and more like a rider going through the motions, started sixth and finished eighth today, making no impression. Cal Crutchlow managed a quiet sixth with Aleix Espargaro giving Aprilia one of their best outings by finishing in P7. Prior to the race there had been a lot chatter around the idea that Yamaha had fixed their problems from 2018 and early this year. Today, I think, was a vivid illustration that the problems remain.

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After qualifying tenth, Andrea Dovizioso fought his way up to finish second ahead of Jack Miller.

Also on display today was the fact that the Suzuki team remains capable of having terrible Sundays, with Rins finishing in P9 and Joan Mir 14th. KTM, too, once Pol Espargaro was sidelined, had to settle for 13th, 18th and 21st, an exercise in futility. Saddest of all, limping home in P20 was The Rider Formally Known as Jorge Lorenzo.

The Big Picture

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With a ninth-place result, Alex Rins moved up to third in the championship standings. If he holds on to that position the rest of the season, he’ll be the highest-placing Suzuki in the premier class since Kenny Roberts Jr. won the 500GP title in 2000.

2019 is over. A magic number of 3 in Thailand becomes a magic number of -22 in Japan. Bruce’s Spacebook now lists only two wagers, with an 85% chance of Marquez clinching at Buriram and a 15% chance at Motegi.

Tranching Tool

After Misano:

Tranche 1: Marc Marquez
Tranche 2: Andrea Dovizioso, Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo, Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales, Franco Morbidelli, Pol Espargaro
Tranche 3: Danilo Petrucci, Joan Mir, Takaa Nakagami, Miguel Oliveira, Cal Crutchlow, Jack Miller, Johann Zarco
Tranche 4: Aleix Espargaro, Pecco Bagnaia, Andrea Iannone
Tranche 5: Jorge Lorenzo, Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin, Tito Rabat

After Aragon:

Tranche 1: Marc Marquez
Tranche 2: Andrea Dovizioso, Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo, Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales, Franco Morbidelli, Jack Miller
Tranche 3: Danilo Petrucci, Joan Mir, Takaa Nakagami, Miguel Oliveira, Cal Crutchlow, Pol Espargaro
Tranche 4: Aleix Espargaro, Pecco Bagnaia, Andrea Iannone, Mika Kallio
Tranche 5: Jorge Lorenzo, Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin, Tito Rabat

A Quick Look Ahead

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The 2019 MotoGP Championship all but sewn up, Marc Marquez can take aim at Jorge Lorenzo’s single season point record of 383, set in 2010.

Two weeks until the steam bath of Buriram, the championship hanging by a thread. This is where a number of you will likely lose interest in MotoGP. But any readers with an appreciation of racing history should be aware that Jorge Lorenzo’s 2010 single season point record of 383 is under assault this season. Marquez currently has 300 points with five rounds left, putting 383 well within his reach. That may be a record worth striving for and might cause Marquez to keep the hammer down this fall rather than letting up has he has been known to do in past seasons in which he has clinched early. I, for one, would be happy knowing I had followed the MotoGP season in which Marc Marquez set the standard for the next generation of young guns, in a 19-round season, when he was at the top of his game.