Australian Casey Stoner was in no mood to play Mr Nice Guy, stamping his authority from the first corner and going away to win Moto GP’s Aragon Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday.
The Ducati rider won for the first time since last season’s Malaysian GP in a time of 42 minutes, 16.530 seconds – 5.148 seconds ahead of Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.
Pedrosa continued his chase of fellow Spaniard and overall leader Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha, who finished fourth after starting second.
Stoner’s Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden passed Lorenzo on the final lap to finish third.
Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso crashed with one lap to race to ensure only Lorenzo and Pedrosa could still win the title with five races to go. Lorenzo leads with 284 points and Pedrosa has 228. Either rider will be the first Spanish champion since 1999.
Spanish King Juan Carlos led a minute’s silence for Moto2 rider Shoya Tomizawa, who was killed when he fell and was hit by two trailing bikes in San Marino two weeks ago.
All riders across each racing category wore a patch featuring Tomizawa’s No. 48, which was retired from Moto2 racing in honour of the Japanese rider.
Stoner was relieved to finish in the lead after a tough start that included a slip on the formation lap.
“It was a difficult race today as I was always a little bit nervous after the crash this morning and I wasn’t happy with the brakes.
“But then I started to go round comfortably,” the 2007 champion said.
“I just put my head down and did some nice, smooth and consistent laps and pulled away for the win.”
At last seemingly comfortable with his Ducati after a season of front-end-induced crash woes, Stoner signalled his determination in the opening corners, leaving Lorenzo in no doubt as to his intentions.
Pedrosa recovered from a slipup at the start that saw him drop back to fifth before quickly recovering to get past the field and pressure Stoner.
Pedrosa had won two straight races to pressure Lorenzo in the title fight.
“I had to come back after Stoner got away,” Pedrosa said. “(But) the tyres were constantly slipping out.”
Italian Valentino Rossi had a tough day, finishing well down the field, leading to speculation he might call an early end to his season and seek an operation on his injured shoulder.
Italy’s Andrea Iannone won the Moto2 race from pole position, 6.203 seconds ahead of Julian Simon of Spain.
Overall category leader Toni Elias was fourth to hold a 76 point advantage in the standings.
In the 125cc category, Pol Espargaro beat fellow Spaniard Nicolas Terol in a photo finish – by 0.050 seconds – but Terol leads Espargaro by six points in the overall standings.
1 Jorge Lorenzo Fiat Yamaha Team 284
2 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 228
3 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 155
4 Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha Team 140
5 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda Team 139
6 Ben Spies Monster Yamaha Tech3 131
7 Nicky Hayden Ducati Marlboro Team 125
8 Randy de Puniet LCR Honda 81
9 Marco Melandri San Carlo Honda Gresini 74
= Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Honda Gresini 74
11 Colin Edwards Monster Yamaha Tech3 70
12 Hector Barbera Aspar Racing Team 66
13 Alex Espargaro Pramac Racing Team 50
14 Alvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 49
15 Loris Capirossi Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 41
16 Mika Kallio Pramac Racing Team 33
17 Hiroshi Aoyama Interwetten Honda MotoGP 29
18 Alex de Angelis Interwetten Honda 11
19 Roger Lee Hayden LCR Honda 5
20 Kousuke Akiyoshi Interwetten Honda MotoGP 4
21 Wataru Yoshikawa Fiat Yamaha Team 1