Anticipation for the MotoGP™ World Championship race at the circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya continued to grow as the riders sat on the grid, hiding from the scorching sun beneath their umbrellas. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was on pole position, but both Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) seemed to have found something on the new layout in Warm Up. High track temperatures had riders cautious about tyre life, everyone except for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) lined up with hard tyres.
From fifth on the grid, Rossi was shuffled back in the opening melee and found himself down in seventh as the first lap began to play out. At the beginning of the second lap he and Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) made an incredible pass on Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team), demoting the Italian to sixth. ‘The Doctor’ was on fire and was almost immediately on Pedrosa’s tail, passing him into the new Turn 10 on the third lap. On lap seven he took the lead from teammate Lorenzo with a classic move into Turn 1. Marquez came back at Rossi in the last five laps; the battle was fierce with no love lost between the two.
Marquez launched from pole position for the first time at his home race, managing to hold onto second into the first corner. The local rider soon found himself with Rossi for company, the Italian slipping up the inside on lap six. Marquez was not deterred and soon followed Rossi through on Lorenzo, right back with his great rival. Five laps from the end and they were right together, Marquez doing all he could to wrestle past Rossi. He may have been unable to battle for victory, but Marquez moves to the head of the championship and is ten points clear of Lorenzo in second.
Two perfect final laps saw Rossi glide to his second win of the season and return the championship to a three-way battle. A mistake at Turn 7 on the penultimate lap cost Marquez the chance of winning, taking second and moving to the head of the championship. Handshakes were exchanged between the two in Parc Ferme, the thrill of a great battle burying any hard feelings that may have lingered. All of the riders took to the podium wearing shirts to honour the memory of the late Luis Salom.
A reasonable start from Dani Pedrosa saw him within touching distance of his teammate during the opening laps. Both Lorenzo and Marquez were working hard to break away, Pedrosa happy to match their pace and try and break away. Try as he might he was unable to fend off the aggression of Rossi and Viñales, the experienced Spaniard working hard to take back a hyper aggressive Viñales. A mistake from the Suzuki man gave Pedrosa a lap of calm, the lifelong Honda rider able to pass Lorenzo for third on lap nine. It proved a lonely end to the race for Pedrosa, his second podium of the year going largely unnoticed due to the action out front.
Jorge Lorenzo made a perfect start and rocketed off the line to lead into Turn 1, holding the advantage as the field completed the first lap. The triple MotoGP™ World Champion looked comfortable at the front but his lead wouldn’t last. On lap seven he went from first to third within just a few corners. His pace continued to drop and he found himself in fourth as Pedrosa went past, Viñales following soon after.
The situation grew worse with each lap but on lap 17 the almost unbelievable happened as Andrea Iannone left his braking too late at Turn 10, smashing into the back of Lorenzo. Both riders went down, Lorenzo clearly furious with the Ducati rider. Iannone attempted to apologise but Lorenzo was distraught, his championship lead gone. He may have been out of contention for victory, but could have certainly scored points were it not for Iannone. As a result of the incident Iannone will start the Motul TT Assen from last place.
Viñales was more aggressive than ever in the opening laps, slamming himself and his GSX-RR up the inside of any rider ahead of him. His aggression would be his downfall as he made a number of mistakes, forced to concede positions and briefly losing contact with the podium battle in the process. The 2013 Moto3™ World Champion rallied found himself battling with the 2015 MotoGP™ World Champion Jorge Lorenzo for fourth. After laps and laps of trying, he finally got past his fellow Spaniard to move into fourth, where he would finish.
Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) worked his way to fifth to seal top Independent Team rider honours.
Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) was demoted a position at the end of the race for exceeding track limits. This granted Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) his first ever-top ten in the premier class.
Rossi: “It was a perfect Sunday”
It may not have been his home race but Valentino Rossi certainly had the crowd behind him after a thrilling battle Marquez.
When Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) spoke to the press after Qualifying at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya he was full of doom and gloom. The new track layout hurt his pace and having to use the harder tyres seemed as though it would destroy any chance he had of battling for victory. But as he and his crew have done so many times before, a little bit of magic happened overnight and ‘The Doctor’ topped Warm Up. When racing eventually got underway the hustle and bustle into Turn 1 knocked him down the order to seventh, but was immediately making up ground. On lap seven Rossi took the lead with a textbook move into Turn 1, but he wasn’t free at the front.
Rossi’s great rival Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was just behind, stalking him for most of the race until he struck with five laps to go. The duo battled for several laps, passing and re-passing each other. Fans edged forwards in their seats, the tension reaching a climax when Marquez made a mistake at Turn 7, giving Rossi just enough breathing room to break away and take his second victory of the year.
Both of Rossi’s wins have come on Spanish soil and with his Spanish teammate, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), failing to finish the race, Rossi’s championship is back on. 25 points for victory may keep Rossi third overall, but he is now only 22 points behind Marquez and only 12 back on his teammate. Fans were delighted to see Rossi and Marquez shake hands after their hard, but fair, battle. It’s all to play for as they prepare for Assen.
Valentino Rossi: “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.”
Marquez: “It was a nice race with Valentino”
Second place grants Marc Marquez the MotoGP™ World Championship lead after a great battle with Valentino Rossi.
The run down to Turn 1 may have not gone exactly how Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) wanted, but he soon recovered and had the podium in his sights. Lap by lap he made progress, unconcerned when Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) got past him. With Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) encountering a number of problems, Marquez and Rossi were left to battle it out for victory alone. The gap between the two stood steady at just under half a second for much of the race until Marquez turned his pace up and was right with Rossi as the final five laps began. Marquez attacked through the last sector and into Turn 1 a number of times, his RC213V slightly stronger on the brakes than the Yamaha. He was desperate for victory and did all he could to get past.
Unfortunately for Marquez a mistake at Turn 7 cost him any chance of victory, settling for second place. With Lorenzo crashing out of the race due to Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team), Marquez takes control of the MotoGP™ World Championship with 125 points, ten more than Lorenzo.
Marc Marquez: “It has been a hard weekend for all the riders, but in the end I think that together we paid tribute to Luis Salom with the Sunday that he deserved. It was a nice race with Valentino. I was suffering a little with the increase in temperature and was never completely comfortable, so I was unable to try overtaking at the right time. I had a couple of scares and started doing the math for the standings in my head, knowing that Jorge Lorenzo was out of the race, and I think that in the end, a podium finish is a very positive result for the Championship. Another thing that’s important for motorcycle racing is that Valentino and I shook hands; it was probably the weekend and the right situation to do so.”
Pedrosa: “I’m happy to get back at the front”
A sensational return to the podium for Dani Pedrosa as a gamble on medium compound tyres pays off.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) had to work hard at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya for his podium. He was up in podium contention from the start of the race but became locked in a battle with Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar). The young Spanish rider was hyper aggressive, his attacks in the final chicane costing both riders valuable time and saw them lose contact with the leaders. Pedrosa would eventually break Viñales, but his tyres were done and he was unable to close down the leading two.
This is Pedrosa’s fifth straight podium at his home circuit and sees him extend his lead over Maverick Viñales in their battle for fourth place in the standings. The result is also proof that both Pedrosa and Honda are continuing to get faster and are edging closer and closer to being a regular contender once again. Monday’s test in Barcelona will be another important day for Pedrosa to continue improving the RC213V.
Dani Pedrosa: “This has been a positive race. We opted for the intermediate rear tyre because I felt more comfortable with it. On the first few laps I tried not to wear it down too much so as to keep it in good condition for the final stretch of the race. In the fight with Maverick Viñales I lost contact with the front group, but I managed to set a good pace and push a little more. In the final laps, the rear tyre had degraded quite a lot and there was nothing more that I could do. I’m happy to get back at the front and return to the podium, and to do so at home but on the other hand it’s been a difficult weekend for what has happened. Luis’s family wanted us to continue, and we gave our all for him and for them. The minute’s silence, with all the riders and the whole MotoGP family, was really emotional.”