Catalunya GP, raceday roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
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 from last place in Assen and has been given 2 penalty points to add to his record. .
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 sixth 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.
Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was forced to retire on the sixth lap, technical problems dropping him down the field.
Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was also forced to retire, his rear tyre offering no grip by the 19th lap of the race.
All eyes were on the leading two on the Moto2™ World Championship grid, pole setter Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) and Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) having set the pace on the new layout. Conditions continued to heat up, the track at 43°C just ahead of the lights going out for round seven of the 2016 championship. Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) made an incredible start to lead into Turn 1 with Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) sliding in just behind him.
From lap two onwards Zarco was locked deep in the battle for the podium, closing in on Rins slowly but surely. The French rider ensured the gap was never more than a third of a second as they continued to snake their way around the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. At the start of lap 17 Zarco took the lead for the first time and began to push to open up an advantage, quickly opening up a half second lead. Zarco would eventually cross the line four seconds ahead of Rins, taking a perfect 50 points from the last two races and moving into third.
Rins may not have had the best launch but was up into second within just a few corners, immediately looking for a way past Luthi. Like a man possessed the Barcelona native scythed through on Luthi at the end of the first lap to lead across the line. Zarco was right with him, sticking on his tail and occasionally applying pressure. The Frenchman would eventually get past, Rins unable to respond at the end of the race. Although unable to challenge for victory, Rins now takes the lead in the championship.
The battle for third was one of the most thrilling of the weekend, Tom Luthi holding the position for much of the race. Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was gaining on him but on lap 12 Marquez crashed at Turn 10, Nakagami then picking up his challenge and taking third from Luthi on lap 17. The Japanese rider then went about opening up a one second lead to return to the podium for the first time since Misano 2015.
With a great launch Luthi was able to lead for most of the first lap before Rins blasted past. He tried to stay with Rins and Zarco but was unable to match their pace which was half a second faster than his own during the first half of the race. Luthi continued to fade, falling into the clutches of Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia). The two battled till the end with Syahrin winning out for fourth position.
Lap three saw Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) come together at Turn 15, Corsi trying to force a gap. The incident was looked at by Race Direction, ruled a racing incident.
Championship leader when the race began; Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was unable to get within touching distance of the podium, unable to even challenge the top five. He eventually finished sixth, losing the championship lead once more in an ever-tightening Moto2™ championship.
Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP), Miguel Oliveira (Leopard Racing), Axel Pons (AGR Team) and Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team) completed the top ten.
Sun continued to grace the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya as the Moto3™ World Championship lined up on the grid, the first race to be run on the revised layout. Championship leader Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was on pole for just the second time, out to take a fourth straight win of the season. The circuit roared to life as the 35 strong field jumped forward, the slipstream keeping them all close together.
While the opening laps were hectic for some, Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) kept his head cool and his powder dry. He worked his way to the front of the field and looked to be opening up an advantage until a big mistake on lap eight at Turn 7 dropped him from first to fifth. By lap 15 he had again worked his way to the front of the field and once more attempted to break away. His plan would eventually work, the Spaniard going on to take his first ever World Championship victory by 0.564s.
Binder made a fantastic start and led into Turn 1, but found himself surrounded by rivals, just as he had in Mugello. The leading three looked to be breaking away from Binder, but he rallied and caught them within a few laps, leading across the line on lap 10 as a clear group of eight riders fought for victory. Five laps from the end disaster struck for Binder, Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) colliding with the rear of his KTM and sending them both wide. With three laps to go Binder looked to be out of contention, but a stunning move at the start of the last lap saw him take second. His lead shrinks by only five points, leaving Barcelona with a 44-point lead.
The race marked a return to form for Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3), the Italian in contention from the start. Bastianini looked a shadow of his former title challenging self at the start of the season but was back to his best in Barcelona. He attacked and defended till the end, returning to the podium with third place and keeping his perfect podium record in Catalunya alive.
Action was intense throughout the race, the front eight eventually becoming the front five. Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46) was a man on a mission, out to recover after a technical issue destroyed his home race. The Italian was quickly inside the top five, in podium contention by lap eight, eventually finishing fourth ahead of teammate Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46). The last lap was classic Moto3™ action,
A number of riders fell on the first lap, Alexis Masbou (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) and Stefan Valtulini (3570 Team Italia) coming together with the latter remounting before retiring. At Turn 10 Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) fell on the first lap as well.
Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia) suffered a fall on the exit of Turn 2, unfortunately collecting Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) in the process. Ono sustained fractures to two fingers on his left hand.
Lap 6 saw another multi-rider accident, Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) and Juanfran Guevara (RBA Racing Team) coming together at the new Turn 10. One lap later Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) lost the front at the same corner. Turn 10 also saw a fall for wildcard Albert Arenas (MRW Mahindra Aspar Team) on lap 14.
Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) looked to be gaining on the front group after a poor start to the race from second. His comeback was cut short as he fell at Turn 15 on lap 15, just losing the front.
Jorge Martin (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) fell at Turn 2 towards the end of the race, walking away from a heavy fall but sustaining a fracture to the radius of his right hand.
Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia) led lap 2, the slipstream helping the Malaysian to snatch the lead at the start of the race. Having been in contention for victory for much of the race, he crashed at Turn 10 on the 20th lap. He was soon followed by Gabriel Rodrigo who had had a similarly fantastic start to the race, leading for the first time in his career. The Argentinian slid off at Turn 1 on lap 21.