Eugene Laverty celebrates Open glory at Aragon MotoGP
Spain once again proved a happy hunting ground for Toome rider Eugene Laverty as he won the Open class for the first time at the Aragon MotoGP, near Barcelona.
In the race overall, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo proved unbeatable as the two-time MotoGP World Champion led from start to finish to close the gap to team-mate Valentino Rossi to just 14 points with four rounds remaining.
From a Laverty point of view, it was the latest in a series of encouraging performances in his first MotoGP season as he pipped Aspar Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden by 0.093 seconds for a 14th-place finish overall.
He has now accumulated 14 points in his first season in the class, though his best finish of the season remains a 12th position in Spain earlier in the year.
For winner Lorenzo, it was a landmark victory from Dani Pedrosa (Honda) in second with Rossi third, the first-place finish marking Lorenzo's 60th Grand Prix victory across all classes.
Fellow Spaniard and defending champion Marc Marquez crashed out early after starting on pole position.
Rossi now has 263 points, with second-placed Lorenzo on 249 and Marquez (Honda) 79 points off the top in third with 184.
With four more races to go, Marquez is only eight points ahead of Italy's Andrea Iannone (Ducati), who is fourth - the same position he took in Aragon.
It was Marquez's fifth DNF of the year, the most he has ever had in a World Championship season.
As early morning cloud cover cleared for the main race, Lorenzo got the holeshot into the first corner and immediately set a scorching pace, setting a new Aragon circuit lap record of 1.48.120 on his second lap and led for the entire race, taking the chequered flag 2.683 seconds ahead of Pedrosa.
Having qualified on the second row in fifth place, Pedrosa rode a fantastic race, holding off the fast-finishing Rossi who had to settle for third. Such was the pace, the first four riders completed the race under the old overall race time record, Lorenzo's race time shaving 18 seconds off the previous record.
Leading Race Positions: MotoGP: 1 Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha 41mins 44.933secs, 2 Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda 41:44.933, 3 Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha 41:47.706, 4 Andrea Iannone (Ita) Ducati 41:52.791, 5 Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Ducati 42:09.255, 6 Aleix Espargaro (Spa) Suzuki 42:09.762, 7 Cal Crutchlow (Gbr) Honda 42:10.300, 8 Bradley Smith (Gbr) Yamaha 42:10.436, 9 Pol Espargaro (Spa) Yamaha 42:11.385, 10 Yonny Hernandez (Col) Ducati 42:28.822
Leading Championship Standings: MotoGP: 1 Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha 263pts, 2 Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha 249, 3 Marc Marquez (Spa) Honda 184, 4 Andrea Iannone (Ita) Ducati 172, 5 Bradley Smith (Gbr) Yamaha 143, 6 Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Ducati 139, 7 Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda 129, 8 Danilo Petrucci (Ita) Ducati 93, 9 Cal Crutchlow (Gbr) Honda 88, 10 Pol Espargaro (Spa) Yamaha 88
At home, the Mid Antrim 150 club have announced JFM Haulage as the title sponsor for the return of the Mid Antrim 150 Road Race in 2016.
The race has not had a title sponsor since 1982 and has not been staged since 2013 due to financial constraints.
It will return as the first race of the season next year on Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2 over the 3.6-mile Clough circuit, with improvements to the road surface in some areas. New paddock facilities have been acquired and various other changes and new ideas are in the pipeline.
Discussions are taking place with various companies and organisations to secure individual race sponsors before the end of November. The club have been very active since formation in December last year with a view to promoting quality events in 2016 and beyond.