Unshakeable Rossi Conquers Grand Prix of Catalunya
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi returned to the top rostrum today after a brilliant performance at the Circuito de Barcelona-Catalunya, celebrating his second victory of the season. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo suffered from a premature ending to the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya after a race incident caused by Andrea Iannone.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi charged to an impeccable victory today at the Circuito de Barcelona-Catalunya, taking his second win of the season at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya.
Jorge Lorenzo also set a strong pace over the first stages of the race, but he was unable to hold his lead due to front tyre grip issues. Riding in fifth place, he was looking to take home vital points for the championship, until Andrea Iannone clipped him and caused a DNF for them both.
Starting from fifth on the grid Rossi had his work cut out for him as he dropped back to eighth when exiting the first corner. The Doctor immediately put his nimble YZR-M1 to work and carved his way through the pack like a knife through butter. By the end of the first lap he had overtaken Hector Barbera and Andrea Dovizioso. Riding in sixth place as he crossed the line for the first time, Rossi moved on to his next targets, Maverick Viñales and Andrea Iannone. He overtook the both of them with a great manoeuvre and quickly passed Dani Pedrosa to earn a spot in the top three with still 22 laps remaining to reel in the front riders.
As he pursued Marc Marquez, the Italian quickened his pace setting a fastest lap of the race so far. He soon reached the back of his rival's bike and smoothly passed the Spaniard on lap six and swiftly moved on to pass his teammate to take over the lead on the very next lap. Now with a clear track in front of him, he put the hammer down, but he was unable to shake off Marquez, who was riding in second place.
The end of the race saw a brilliant fight between the two key protagonists. The local rider made a move in turn five, but Rossi was quick to respond with a brilliant move in turn two a lap later. Marquez used the slipstream to find a way through again, but Rossi fought back. With two laps to go the Italian was in Marquez' slipstream and needed no second invitation when the Spaniard left a gap on the penultimate lap in turn seven, allowing Rossi to make the race-winning pass. Marquez was unable to make up the lost time, while Rossi rode towards his second victory of the season, holding a 2.652s margin over the finish line.
Lorenzo had a lightning fast start from second on the grid to take the holeshot. He rode the early stages of the race exactly as he had planned, increasing his lead to over 0.7s by lap two, whilst the 20 riders behind him tried to sort out their order.
The Mallorcan rider pushed hard, but was unable to completely break away from Marquez in second place and his fast approaching Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammate. He was forced to let the pair go past with 19 laps to go as he struggled to find grip on the harder front tyre. Lorenzo tried to make his Yamaha as wide as possible, yet Pedrosa also found his way past. He was then put under pressure by Viñales. A hot battle followed, with multiple overtakes from both riders, but in the end Lorenzo was unable to stick with his compatriot as the grip-level of his tyre was too deteriorated. The Spaniard then cleverly focused on collecting as many points as possible and was determined to keep Andrea Iannone at bay, but then disaster struck. Nine laps before the end Iannone ran into the back of Lorenzo's bike whilst entering turn ten, thus ending the race for both riders.
Rossi's first place earns him 25 points. This result keeps him in third place in the championship standings on 103 points, now just 12 points behind Lorenzo in second position.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"Until the start of the race it had been a very strange weekend because we faced many issues, first with the front tyre wear, then with the new track layout and finally with the tyre choice. The decision on the tyres was never a question because there was only one option for us, but when we tested the hard tyre in FP4, the riders' feelings were not good at all, so we did not know what to expect from the race.
"Our crew reacted in a magnificent way because they drastically revised the set up of both bikes, especially to make them suitable for T4, which was our weakest sector.
"The race was another bittersweet one after Mugello. I'm almost speechless in front of Valentino's supremacy on track today. I believe he's written a new page in the history of this sport, winning at Montmelò seven years after his last victory here. He's been able to recover from a less than perfect start that moved him back to the eighth place, and then he's given the race a rhythm that was unmatchable for his rivals.
"Jorge did a great start and led the race for six laps, until the front tyre dropped and he had to manage the attacks from Pedrosa, Viñales and ultimately Iannone. I believe Iannone has no excuses and, because it's not the first time he causes such an accident, I expected the Race Direction to be more strict with him, as this incident could seriously compromise Jorge's chances to fight for the title.
"Finally, a special thought to Luis Salom and his family. Today's show, put together by all riders, is the best way to pay tribute to a member of our extended "MotoGP Family" who is no longer with us."
1st / 44'37.589 / 25 laps, Championship: 3rd, 103 points
"I think it was a perfect Sunday, because this morning we improved the setting of the bike a lot and after the warm-up I felt more confident about the race. The race was great! Though the start was not fantastic, I was strong enough to come back, do some good overtaking and arrive in front. From that moment I tried to push at 100 percent to go away alone, but unfortunately I wasn't fast enough to pull away from Marquez. I tried to stay quiet and ride well, because I felt I had a good pace and felt good with the bike. At the end I was ready for the battle, which was a good one, with a lot of overtaking and I was ready to give it a try. You can't wish for a better race, I think. This is one of my favourite tracks and it was from 2009 that I didn't win here, and that wasn't great for me. For this reason I'm more happy today and the battle with Marquez we can put on the same level as the battle with Lorenzo. What happened in Mugello was very sad because I was ready to fight for the victory there, which was fantastic. Over the last week I just thought I had to try do the same, to arrive ready for the race. Together with my team we did a great job and I think this is the best way to forget about the zero points in Mugello."
DNF, Championship: 2nd, 115 points
"First of all, as I said yesterday, everything is secondary after what happened on Friday. About the race, it's unbelievable that Iannone made this mistake again and when he did, instead of saying "sorry" he asked me if I had an engine failure or something strange happening in this corner. I thought it was his fault, but he had this reaction and didn't say sorry. There is always one rider that doesn't understand the risks and that his actions can seriously injure the other riders and if Race Direction don't give him a hard penalisation, like they did with me in 2005, these kinds of riders don't understand that they have to change their mentality. That's why I think starting the race from last position is not enough, because in five to seven laps he will be positioned at the front again due to his pace."
Espargaro stars at home GP to clinch 5th
Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro produced a superb performance in front of over 100,000 passionate fans to seal the top independent position for the fourth time this season. The 24-year-old Spaniard kicked off his campaign from the 12 place on the grid and launched forward when the lights went out before closing the first lap in 8th. With the target being a strong finish in front of his home crowd, Espargaro quickly stuck into a formidable pace and he dived past the factory Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso two laps later. He continued pushing and was running in 5th with a third of the distance left to run, before meeting the chequered flag in this position, marking a positive close to the weekend for the Barcelona born rider.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 pit box, Bradley Smith's weekend came to an unfortunate end after withdrawing from the race six laps in due to a technical issue with the engine. The young Briton began the race from the fifth row of the grid and he undertook a solid start after taking the outside line into the first turn. However, shortly afterwards he dropped to the back of the field and then despite his best efforts he was forced to retire a few laps later. Today's result marks a disappointing end to a tough weekend for the 25 year old, yet, after tomorrow's test at the Catalunya circuit, he will seek to bounce back strongly at the Dutch Grand Prix in a fortnight's time.
5th / +29.546 / 25 laps, Championship: 6th / 59 points
"Even though I am really pleased with my performance today, I have to say that it was a hard weekend and the race was especially challenging but my main target was to finish the GP for Luis so I put in 200% effort and achieved it. When I was sitting on the grid, I was a bit unsure about which rear tyre to run. I had used the medium compound all weekend long, yet the majority of the grid was going for another option and only Bradley, Dani and me picked the medium compound. Now I believe it was definitely the right choice, especially because we were able to be strong in the opening laps after a good start. Then, I kept the distance from Cal and pushed until the chequered flag. Looking back on the weekend, I have to say that I believe it was the right choice to continue the event. In our sport we showed that we are a big family, and even if all of us didn't know Luis, we gave our respect to him, with the three best riders in the race demonstrating this by putting on the memorial shirts as well as all the riders running Luis' number. We had to make some important decisions in the safety commission to show the world that we care and that we are united but, he will always be in our thoughts and the best way to remember him is to continue showing our love as a family. Next up we have a test tomorrow, and then after that it will be round 8 in the Netherlands."
DNF, Championship: 12th / 29 points
"It goes without saying that this is quite an upsetting way to finish the Grand Prix. As soon as we began, I noticed that something wasn't right with the bike, even though I didn't know immediately what it was. We lost a lot of positions and I was struggling when slowing the bike down. Now, we will obviously investigate what happened in order to figure out what the issue was. However, it's frustrating to finish this way because I certainly felt that we could have had a really positive close to an otherwise tricky weekend. Thanks to the Tech3 team for their efforts in Catalunya, we'll work out the issue and then start again with testing tomorrow. Nevertheless, I am certain that we can get right back to where we need to be at the next round which is the Motul Dutch TT."