Michael Laverty suffered a disappointing end to his maiden race on the PBM ART machine in the Aragon MotoGP in Spain on Sunday.
Laverty, who elected to ride the ART Aprilia in preference to the team’s in-house racer, which the Northern Ireland rider had raced previously this season, tangled with Danilo Petrucci on the opening lap and crashed out.
He escaped unhurt, but missed out on the chance to gain some beneficial track time on the ART machine, which became available following Colombian Yonny Hernandez’s decision to leave Paul Bird’s team to replace American star Ben Spies at Pramac Ducati.
Sensational MotoGP series leader Marc Marquez, meanwhile, took another step towards claiming the title in his debut season with a convincing win on the Repsol Honda RC213V.
The 20-year-old Spaniard, on course to become the first rookie since Kenny Roberts in 1978 to win the premier class championship at the first attempt, started on pole but saw defending champion Jorge Lorenzo take an early lead on the Factory Yamaha YZR-M1.
Marquez, though, reeled in Lorenzo and seized the lead, eventually winning by 1.356 seconds after Lorenzo briefly threatened to launch a counter-attack.
There was drama on the sixth lap of the race when Marquez’s team-mate, Dani Pedrosa, was spat off his machine while holding second place behind Lorenzo.
It later transpired that Marquez had nudged Pedrosa’s rear wheel as he tried to make a pass, breaking a sensor and disabling the traction control system.
Pedrosa was fired off the Honda when he opened the throttle on the exit of the corner, all but ending his fading hopes of challenging for his maiden MotoGP crown.
Honda star Marquez now holds a lead of 39 points at the top of the championship over Lorenzo, with Pedrosa 20 points further behind in third.
“I went a little wide under braking, lifted the bike up and made light contact with him,” said Marquez, reflecting on the incident.
“I’m not sure he even noticed it, but it was a bit of bad luck because the team told me I caused his traction control cable to snap and I’m sorry for that - it’s something very unusual to see.”
Valentino Rossi took third on the second factory Yamaha ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Honda Gresini), Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) and Yamaha Tech 3 pair Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith, who were sixth and seventh.