Round 7 Catalunyan MotoGP – Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Jorge Lorenzo qualified on pole for the race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Perhaps it was his anger that fuelled his fastest lap after he returned to his pit garage after his first run fairly fired up.
It may have been that the second bike was not ready but he was clearly an unhappy camper. Despite this he managed to steal the top spot from Marc Marquez who will join him on the front row along with Lorenzo’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso. This pole marks the first pole position for Lorenzo since Valencia in 2016. Marc Marquez’s performance in Q1 was brilliant given his difficult start to the weekend where his lap times were poor and he suffered a crash, all contributing factors sending him to Q2.
Off the start line Marc Marquez appeared to have put the struggles of the weekend behind him taking holeshot ahead of both Andrea Iannone and Lorenzo. Lorenzo however, passed him Iannone and Marquez to lead the race as they began the second lap. Marquez stayed with the Ducati rider for many laps but Lorenzo’s smooth and steady pace couldn’t be maintained and Marquez settled for second place finishing 4.4 secs behind Lorenzo. It was a good move by Marquez who has now collected a valuable 20 points and has extended his lead in the Championship. Lorenzo rode an impeccable race winning by over 4 seconds. The win was also Lorenzo’s second consecutive win following his win at the last round at Mugello.
There was disappointment for Andrea Dovizioso crashing out of third place at turn five during lap nine. This allowed Valentino Rossi to move into third place. He was some distance back from second place and over 2 seconds ahead of the group fighting for 4th. The rest of his race he was unable to challenge for a better position but he also maintained his position unencumbered. Rossi’s third place win makes that his third consecutive third place finish this season. Rossi was also able to retain his second place in the Championship 27 points behind Marc Marquez.
Cal Crutchlow aboard his LCR Honda finished in fourth place and as the top independent rider after a late stage battle with Dani Pedrosa passing him at turn 4. Pedrosa who struggled in Q2 and qualified in 11th made a magic start finding himself in 6th place in the opening stages. He held firm despite rear grip issues, riding a consistently good race and crossing the finish line in 5th.
Vinales had a bad start from his fourth place grid position but rode a great race great passing a lengthy list of riders including Bradley Smith, Andrea Iannone, Danilo Petrucci and Johann Zarco to finally finish in sixth place very closely behind Dani Pedrosa. Zarco crossed the line in seventh after his close battle with Vinales throughout the race with Danilo Petrucci and Alvaro Bautista behind him in eighth and ninth.
After initially riding in second place after a great start Andrea Iannone fell through the order and completed the top ten.
Red Bull KTM rider Pol Espargaro seems to be suffering from the curse of the 11’s after finishing in 11th for the fourth race in a row.
There were quite a few crashes on the day with Bradley Smith being taken out by Takaaki Nakagami on lap 14. Mika Kallio, Sylvain Guintoli, Tom Luthi, Aleix Espargaro, Xavier Simeon and Hafizh Syahrin also all crashed. Retirements also featured prominently with Alex Rins, Jack Miller and Tito Rabat all having their races cut short. Rabat’s was particularly spectacular with his bike catching fire as he headed through turn 1. Thankfully he was ok.
MotoGP will be back on the Montmeló track tomorrow for a one-day test before racing heads to The Netherlands for the next race, held at the TT Circuit Assen on July 1st. In the meantime the FIFA World Cup can keep us entertained.
1st: Jorge Lorenzo
“It’s unbelievable and it shows how things change in this sport. Two months ago, two victories with Ducati seemed impossible and now it’s done, and in this way of winning it’s amazing. I never gave up, I just kept saying I needed the right pieces and needed to put it together to be competitive with Ducati, and find my way to be fast and smooth with this bike. We showed you can win with Ducati having a smooth riding style and that’s what makes me most proud.”
“We had to manage the front and rear well today, because the track temperatures were high and after the Moto2 race the track had changed, so I had to adapt my riding style – as I had done in Mugello. It was also difficult because Marc never gave up and he made it very tough. Michelin did a good job here, because it was a new track. It was a hard race, but I didn’t lose concentration and in the end, we made possible what looked impossible two-months ago!”
2nd: Marc Marquez
“Today was a race where we had to manage as best as possible and I tried to be smart. Of course in the first laps I pushed hard because it was important to follow Jorge and to open a gap on the chasers. When we built a comfortable advantage I just managed the pace. I even slowed down a bit in the final part of the race as it was impossible to catch Lorenzo. I saw many crashes, which made me think more than I did in other races. Sometimes the tyre choice you make doesn’t result in the exact feeling you were hoping for, but I think that second is very good for the Championship because we arrived here with a 23-point lead and go to Assen with 27. It’s time to understand how the situation is and try and manage it as best as possible. We made a mistake in Mugello and that had me thinking a lot. Of course, when you don’t win the feeling that you were missing something remains, but a podium is a good result! Maybe other challenging races will arrive but the good thing for us is that so far in every race we have been in good shape.”
3rd Valentino Rossi
“I’m happy because last year on this race track we struggled very much, it was a disaster, but today I could keep the pace until the last lap in a good way. Also, it’s important points for the Championship because we take a small advantage for the second place and we have to continue like this.”
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