#CatalunyaGP Barcelona, Saturday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3

 In MotoGP, News


Local hero Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) sealed victory in the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya Tissot Sprint with a storming ride at the front, becoming the sixth different Saturday winner of the season so far. The “Captain” got the better of Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) as the World Championship leader had no answer for the flying Aprilia ahead, instead forced to defend against the next one: Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing). The number one plated Ducati was the meat in the Aprilia sandwich but just held on to deny Aprilia a 1-2 as Viñales looked for a way through on the final lap.

The Captain vs The Champion 
Tensions were rocketing as the grid got off onto their warm lap with spots of rain beginning to threaten the Catalan GP Tissot Sprint. Wet bikes were being prepared but the time had come for lights out and there was no looking back now. The weather, luckily, held firm.

As the lights went out, it was a clean start for Bagnaia and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), and Bagnaia defended the lead from pole as, nevertheless, the two Aprilias fended off the fast-starting Pramac machine. Viñales almost immediately shot through into second past Martin, and Bagnaia, Viñales, Espargaro was the order as they crossed the line for the first time. Espargaro then took over from his teammate at Turn 1 though, the Captain beginning his charge.

Bagnaia powered on though, the odd drop of rain not affecting the track conditions. But the number 41 Aprilia was soon locked on and the duo began to pull away from the rest of the field.

Viñales was initially left to defend 3rd place as Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) were snapping at the Spaniard’s heels.

With six laps to go, it was game on in Barcelona as Aleix Espargaro attacked for the lead. And he took it, immediately putting the hammer down in an attempt to break away from the Ducati. Bagnaia had no answer as the Aprilia stretched out half a second in one lap, doing a Bagnaia – of late – on Bagnaia.

Espargaro proved to be untouchable at the front as he went on to take the Sprint victory by just under two seconds, putting down a pace that not even the reigning World Champion could match. He had his hands full elsewhere.

Viñales was catching the Championship leader as the laps ticked down, and he was bringing Binder with him. Sure enough, Bagnaia fell into the clutches of the chasing Viñales with two laps remaining as it became a Ducati vs Aprillia scrap for 2nd place.

As the last lap arrived, Viñales was riding pillion to Bagnaia as he desperately looked for a way through. Bagnaia put in an incredible defensive performance, however, and was simply too strong on the brakes to allow the Aprilia a chance. He did consider it at the final corner, but no dice.

Binder did all he could to stay in the fight but found himself eight-tenths back from the top three by the time the chequered flag dropped.

Battles all the way through the field
Slightly further back, Martin bagged P5 after an eventful Sprint. The Spaniard pushed his way past Oliveira after dropping down the field early on following a run off round Turn 2. Oliveira took sixth, and will be gunning for more on Sunday.

Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), meanwhile, was almost two seconds back from Oliveira in P7, but he nabbed that late as he pulled a VR46 on Mooney VR46 rider Marco Bezzecchi at the final corner.

Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) picked up the final Sprint point in P9, as the Italian made some more steps back towards his brilliant best.

One early moment saw Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Alex Marquez(Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) come together in a mid-pack sandwich at Turn 1, with MM93 winning out and the latter duo sent wide. Alex Marquez came back to P10, just ahead of Marc.


It was a pole position to remember for Jake Dixon (Asterius GASGAS Aspar Team) as the Brit flew his way to the top with a 1:44.089, enough to deny Aron Canet(Pons Wegow Los40) by less than a tenth. Rounding out the top three was Ai Ogura(IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia), with Championsip Leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) down in ninth and closest rival Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) failing to make it to Q2.

It all got very intense very quickly in the closing stages of the session as red sectors came flying in from every direction. There was a lap cancelled for Acosta which would have put him inside the top five, and Dixon was following Acosta on that very lap as he set the pole position time with two minutes remaining. Strong efforts came in from Canet and Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Mastercamp), but no one was able to better the Brit’s time.

Gonzalez just missed out on the front row by only 0.001s as he’s set to head Row 2 ahead of Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools Speed Up). Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools Speed Up) will head Row 3 in P7 and will be joined by Sergio Garcia (Pons Wegow Los40) and Acosta, with Barry Baltus (Fieten Olie Racing GP) rounding out the top 10.


Saturday at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya saw Ivan Ortola(Angeluss MTA Team) return to glory as an intense last-minute rush ended with the Spaniard taking his debut pole with a late 1:48.205. Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) bagged 2nd place with Joel Kelso (CFMoto Racing Pruestel GP) taking a much-welcomed front row.

The timing screens lit up with red sectors at the sight of the chequered flag as the usual Moto3™ shenanigans saw the riders leave it until the very last minute to put in their flying laps. There was a big reshuffle as the mad rush for pole position was underway, and it was Ortola who won that battle as he took his maiden pole.

On the second row, it was Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) who snatched the front spot with Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) joining him in 5th and 6th. Rookie Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was looking strong and snapped up P7, ahead of Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) and Kaito Toba (SIC58 Squadra Corse) in 8th and 9th. Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse) rounds out the top 10.

It wasn’t a great day in the office for the Championship Leader Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) who could only manage P11 and will be looking for more on Sunday. And likewise Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) in P13… just behind Silverstone winner David Alonso (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team).

Source: motogp.com

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