Friday Sep 20, 2019
PARIS: Marc Marquez will be at home in every sense this weekend in Aragon as he seeks to close in on a sixth MotoGP world title.
The race is the third of four on the calendar in Marquez´s native Spain with Jerez, Catalunya and Valencia also on the roster.
Sunday's race is held at the Aragon Motorland, 160km from his home town of Cervera, a community of 25,000 to which the 26-year-old Marquez and his motorcycling brother Alex are very much attached.
The 5.077km circuit has always smiled on the Honda rider who has won there the last three seasons.
"I really feel like I am at home as it is so close to Cervera," Marquez said. "It´s where the most people from my hometown come to watch and always the fans help to give me something extra."
With six races to go, the Spaniard has a comfortable 93-point lead over his closest rival Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati.
Marquez won six of the opening 10 races but was beaten on the line by Dovizioso in Austria and by Alex Rins of Suzuki in Great Britain before bouncing back in Italy last Sunday.
Marquez passed French "rookie" Fabio Quartararo in the last lap at San Marino grand prix to win.
"After a fantastic win in Misano I am excited to race again," said Marquez.
Quartararo, who rides for Yamaha satellite team SRT, led most of the race with Marquez on his wheel for about 20 laps, but the Frenchman could not hold on for a first MotoGP victory.
"Fighting with Marc at Misano means that I´m going to Aragon with a lot of confidence," said the 20-year-old, the rising star of MotoGP, adding that he liked the course.
"The long straights aren´t too much of a problem for us, because we showed in Austria and at Misano that as long as you make a good start and five strong laps at the beginning you can be in the fight."
The two Ducati riders are the closest challengers to Marquez. Dovizioso is second and fellow Italian Danilo Petrucci is another 31 points back in third. But the team´s only victory in Aragon was back in 2010, the year the circuit made its MotoGP debut.
Dovizioso´s challenge has faded over the last two races. The Italian was unlucky at Silverstone, where he collided with Quartararo on the first lap. Then he was only sixth at Misano.
"Motorland is one of the most unusual tracks in the calendar," he said. "In the past I had never really scored any good results, but last year we were very competitive and we finished second, so we arrive at the race weekend with this memory and this mentality."
Finnish veteran Mika Kallio will step in for Johann Zarco at KTM after the team abruptly ended their relationship with the French rider.
Zarco joined the Austrian team before this season but had struggled to adapt.
"I don´t want to say (if I am disappointed with the decision). It´s part of the game," said Zarco, who had requested his contract be terminated at the end of season.
"Now I am free to find opportunities and I still believe I can do great things in MotoGP. I have a dream that I want to achieve and I will manage to have all the tools in my hand to catch this dream."
The main race will begin at 13:00 local time (1100 GMT) on Sunday, after the Moto3 race but before the Moto2 race.