Another race weekend, another MotoGP race winner, as the Aragon Grand Prix handed Pecco Bagnaia a stage to not just take his first ever premier class victory but to do it in a spectacular manner – by entering the rarefied strata of people who have defeated Marc Marquez in a last lap duel.
But as is always the case in MotoGP, his victory wasn’t the only incredible success story of Sunday’s race, as a series of others put in impressive performances – perhaps most notably rookie rider Enea Bastianini, who did a fine job in sixth on his year-old satellite Ducati.
And equally, a few failed to live up to their pre-race potential as well, with Bagnaia’s team-mate Jack Miller and Catalan Grand Prix winner Miguel Oliveira failing to deliver on their potential at the Motorland Aragon circuit.
With that in mind, we have, as usual, ranked the whole grid based on their Sunday performances.
Our MotoGP ranking system is simple: the riders who we believe performed the best are at the top, and the ones who underplayed are at the bottom and scored appropriately.
It isn’t just about the end result though, with pre-race expectation and form heavily influencing their eventual score – not just the points they take home with them.
Pecco Bagnaia – 10
Started: 1st Finished: 1st
A rare perfect score for a rare perfect performance – but Pecco Bagnaia simply never put a foot wrong in Sunday’s race. He was strong from the start, managed his tyres to perfection and didn’t do what he’s done in the past and crack under pressure. Rather, he held on against a full-on Marc Marquez onslaught – and came out smiling. Not many people have done that before, and he enters a select club with his debut win,
Iker Lecuona – 8.5
Started: 13th Finished: 11th
Eleventh place is a result that belies the real strength of Iker Lecuona’s performance at Motorland Aragon, after the youngest rider on the grid spent much of the race inside the top eight and as the top KTM. Eventually making a rookie error that cost him a top 10 finish, but there were plenty of positives to take away from the race.
Aleix Espargaro – 8
Started: 6th Finished: 4th
An Aprilia in podium contention for two races in the row would have been classed as absolute fiction as recently as the start of 2021 – but Aleix Espargaro managed it again on Sunday, and looked extremely comfortable in the process.
Admitting in the end that he didn’t quite have the pace to run with the top three, settling for a solid fourth is no shame, and there’s still plenty of time left for heroics from the Spaniard before the year is out.
Enea Bastianini – 8
Started: 9th Finished: 6th
Simply outstanding work from the reigning Moto2 world champion on a year-old Ducati that severely struggled at Aragon only eleven months ago. Perhaps the best example of how the real solution to their woes has been experience with the bike, it was a fantastic performance that largely went under the radar in the race – but is hopefully a springboard for a strong second half of the season for Bestia.
Marc Marquez – 7.5
Started: 4th Finished: 2nd
On one hand, a welcome return to his old battling form for Marc Marquez. On the other, it’s not often we see him beaten in last lap duels, let alone by someone who hasn’t even won a race before. Aragon was a clear set target for him, and while he might be still recovering from injury the matter of fact is, he simply didn’t have an answer to Pecco Bagnaia in the final laps. A race he’ll be disappointed with.
Joan Mir – 7.5
Started: 7th Finished: 3rd
He might have been on the podium, but Joan Mir’s score reflects the Suzuki rider’s post-race mood. He was clearly fuming with the result, believing that he had the pace to get away with the leaders and fight for the win – but the reality is that that didn’t happen. It was a golden opportunity to defend his title by taking valuable points from Fabio Quartararo, and while he closed the gap, he didn’t do a job anywhere near as good as Pecco Bagnaia did.
Brad Binder – 7
Started: 12th Finished: 7th
A relatively standard Brad Binder performance, where he qualifies badly (aided by running out of tyres for Q2), is forced to pick his way through the field in the early stages of the race and doesn’t quite find the podium battle as a result. It’s not the end of the world for him, though, as this is probably one of the occasions where he didn’t really have the pace to end up much further ahead anyway.
Fabio Quartararo – 7
Started: 3rd Finished: 8th
It would have been an easy day on Sunday for championship leader Fabio Quartararo to do something wrong, and it’s testament to how much he’s matured over the course of the past year that he didn’t do something that he’ll live to regret.
Obviously struggling with something on the bike, he didn’t give up and he didn’t crash – and the points he took home from even a bad day will be key in a few months’ time when the title is being decided.
Cal Crutchlow – 6.5
Started: 15th Finished: 16th
Not an incredible performance for Cal Crutchlow, but above average for Yamaha’s test rider as he continues to deputise for the injured Franco Morbidelli. He wasn’t in Aragon to set the world alight, so to be knocking on the door of points isn’t a bad end to his time with the Monster Energy Yamaha squad.
Maverick Vinales – 6
Started: 19th Finished: 18th
It seems like while there was definitely a subset of internet ‘experts’ who believed that something special was possible for Maverick Vinales on his Aprilia race debut, the reality is that his target from the start of the weekend should have been to test, adapt and complete race distance.
That’s exactly what he did, and it was far more valuable than crashing out of the battle for the top 10 by exceeding himself would have been to his future plans.
Jorge Martin – 6
Started: 5th Finished: 9th
Certainly not Jorge Martin’s best day out of the year, he was left complaining of issues with leg pump afterwards – an understandable issue given that it’s his rookie season and he’s missed half the year through injury, but still something that he needs to get addressed going forward. Given his physical condition wasn’t up to scratch, perhaps a top 10 is an acceptable result – but it’ll have smarted him seeing so many other Ducatis ahead.
Alex Marquez – 5
Started: 14th Finished: DNF
Hard to say too much about Alex Marquez’s potential given that his race ended on the opening lap, although at least the crash wasn’t entirely of his own making. Team-mate Taka Nakagami was forced to take avoiding action as another rider in front of him had a moment, leaving Marquez with nowhere to go but into the back of the Japanese rider, taking him down.
Jake Dixon – 5
Started: 22nd Finished: DNF
An unfortunate end to Dixon’s short MotoGP career with an early crash, but the Brit was quick to chalk it down to an understandable lack of experience in managing the Michelin tyres. He says he’s learned a lot during his time as a MotoGP rider, and hopefully, he’s done enough in his two races in the premier class to at least create a bit of future buzz around his name.
Jack Miller – 5
Started: 2nd Finished: 5th
Jack Miller might as well have been invisible in the Aragon Grand Prix, for all the impact he seemed to make beyond the opening few laps. Never demonstrating his team-mate’s pace all weekend and having no answer for him or Marc Marquez in the race, he simply faded back to a safe fifth place – but safe fifth places on days when the goal is open don’t win championships.
Danilo Petrucci – 4.5
Started: 16th Finished: 15th
Another mediocre race for Petrucci as he continues to see out his time as a MotoGP rider, with at least the silver lining this time around of having some points to show for his efforts. Struggling with an overheating front tyre, it would have been an easy race to chuck away, so making it home safely isn’t a bad thing either.
Luca Marini – 4
Started: 17th Finished: 20th
Rookie Luca Marini has been given the benefit of doubt on multiple occasions so far in 2021 – but to be frank, on a day when his fellow Ducati-mounted newcomers put on such a good show, it’s disappointing to see him so far off the pace. Generally going forwards not back in every race of his first season, here’s hoping that it was only a minor blip for him.
Taka Nakagami – 3.5
Started: 11th Finished: 10th
This time last year we were expecting Nakagami to take his first win at Motorland Aragon. This year, he got beaten by a struggling Yamaha rider and a Ducati rookie in a brawl. Sure, the Honda has turned into a worse bike for him since then, but it’s still disappointing to see him so far off the pace all weekend long without any clear explanation for why.
Johann Zarco – 3
Started: 10th Finished: 17th
The day that any championship ambitions for Johann Zarco well and truly died. He never quite looked strong all weekend at Aragon, complaining about arm pump in the buildup to the race for the first time. But things went from bad to worse when the lights went out – and perhaps the Frenchman’s biggest concern is that he didn’t seem to know what had gone wrong.
Valentino Rossi – 2
Started: 21st Finished: 19th
There comes a point when there aren’t really any excuses left for Valentino Rossi’s poor performances beyond that he doesn’t really seem that interested anymore. Stressing all weekend that he doesn’t like the Aragon track, he nonetheless was shown up by test rider Cal Crutchlow, who managed to put on a considerably better performance on the same bike. Here’s hoping that a return home to Misano next weekend triggers some sort of spark in Rossi again, because watching him cruise around in 19th is painful.
Miguel Oliveira – 2
Started: 18th Finished: 14th
Miguel Oliveira’s season has so far had more rollercoaster ups and downs than Disneyland, but the consistent run of bad form he’s been on since the summer break is worrying for the Portuguese rider. Adamant that hand injuries from Austria aren’t still holding him back, good results from other KTMs show that the issue doesn’t lie with the bike either – and sooner or later he needs to find a solution to what’s gone wrong.
Alex Rins – 1
Started: 20th Finished: 12th
A thoroughly disappointing weekend for Alex Rins. In fact, 12th place from last year’s winner is a worse result than his streak of four DNFs earlier in this season – because at least you can explain why crashes happen. Rather, he was just left floundering at his home race this year round – and going from that strong to that slow (especially when his team-mate was on the podium) isn’t really acceptable. Questions will be asked at Suzuki.
Pol Espargaro – 1
Started: 8th Finished: 13th
Another race, another absolute disappointment for Pol Espargaro. A very unwelcome return to form after his Silverstone high shows that his work to adapt his riding style to the RC213V when there’s low track grip hasn’t progressed at all – and until he cracks that, it’s hard to see any improvement coming his way.