Jorge Lorenzo and his Movistar Yamaha are in perfect harmony at the moment—there's no other way to describe his utter domination of the MotoGP class, which continued at Catalunya as he took the chequered flag from teammate Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa. Australia's Jack Miller (CWM LCR Honda) scored his best result for the season in 11th position.
It was Lorenzo's fourth successive victory—the Spaniard's best ever run of success—with the only nuisance value in the 25-lap race coming from reigning world champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) and Rossi. Marquez was on his bumper before running off the track and crashing on lap three. The world champion wasn't alone in parting company with his bike, preceded by Briton Cal Crutchlow (CWM LCR Honda) and then followed by riders including Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and polesitter Aleix Espargaro (Suzuki Ecstar).
Other than Marquez, no-one was capable of matching Lorenzo's early pace, and that was evident as he pulled clear of the pack and made the race his own. Rossi was customarily strong at the end but couldn't reign in his teammate, the final margin just under a second—and then a whopping 19 seconds back to Pedrosa, who inched his way forward after a slow start.
Lorenzo said it was his "hardest win of the season".
"To be honest, the last 10 laps were probably the most hard and intense laps of my career," said Lorenzo. "When Valentino reduced the gap from two to 1.4s I was really worried that I would lose this race. I needed to push and risk more while the bike was already moving a lot, but I was able to keep my rhythm and stay focused."
Lorenzo is now just 1pt (137 to 138) behind Rossi after seven of 18 rounds, with Andrea Iannone (94pts) now taking over third spot from his teammate Dovizioso (83pts). Marquez remains in fifth on 69pts, and the world champion will be desperate to return to his winning ways in the next round at Assen (June 25-27) to breathe new life into his title defence.
Iannone was fourth at Catalunya, from Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Maverick Vinales (Suzuki Ecstar), Scott Redding (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda) and Stefan Bradl (Athinà Forward Racing Yamaha). Smith's teammate Pol Espargaro also crashed in the race, while Vinales sat alongside Aleix Espargarò on the Catalunya grid—the first 1-2 for Suzuki on the startline since Kevin Schwantz and Alex Barros way back in 1993. The Suzukis were swamped at the start, however, with Aleix Espargaro ninth after lap one, and Vinales 11th.
Miller was rapt to make the finish after two successive DNFs. He said: "It’s good to put some more points on the board, but we are still learning all the time on the bike. I still need more laps on it and crashing out of the race is not the way forward.
“More than anything now I’m looking forward to our test tomorrow and putting some time in on the bike and working on our base set-up so we can be better prepared for the races coming up.”
1. Jorge Lorenzo, Movistar Yamaha, 42m53.208s
2. Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha, +0.885s
3. Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda, +19.455s
11. Jack Miller, CWM LCR Honda, +53.666
Pole position: Aleix Espargaro, Suzuki Ecstar, 1:40.546 = 169.2km/h
Fastest lap: Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda, 1:42.219 = 166.4km/h
Championship top 3
Rossi 138 • Lorenzo 137 • Andrea Iannone 94
Timing is everything in motorsport, and Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) did it to perfection in front of just under 100,000 spectators at Catalunya after hitting the front on the final lap and winning his second race of the year. He also extended his lead in the championship to 40pts over reigning champion Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).
Zarco made a block pass on Rabat at turn five on the final circuit, and then Rabat ran wide soon after to allow Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) to also sneak past. That's the way they finished, with Sam Lowes (Speed Up Racing) and Rins' teammate Luis Salom fourth and fifth.
“Lowes broke late and I got pushed in the first corner," said Zarco. "I had to keep calm during the race and I had enough energy to keep pushing at the end. It’s like the entire south of France was here! I enjoyed this race a lot and it’s very good for the championship overall."
Australia's Anthony West (QMMF Racing) was 22nd.
1. Johann Zarco, Ajo Motorsport, 41m15.487s
2. Alex Rins, Paginas Amarillas HP 40, +0.426s
3. Tito Rabat, EG 0,0 Marc VDS, +1.115s
22. Anthony West, QMMF Racing, +43.641s
Pole Position: Zarco, 1:45.895 = 160.6km/h
Fastest lap and new record: Rins, 1:46.474 = 159.8km/h
Championship top 3
Zarco 134 • Rabat 94 • Sam Lowes 80
Championship leader Danny Kent (Leopard Racing Honda) played a smart race. After trying to pull clear at the beginning he realised the futility of the exercise and then settled into the pack to prepare for a final onslaught.
That took the shape of drafting his way from sixth to first position down the front straight on the final lap, and from there he refused to retreat as he brought up his fifth win of the season ahead of Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Honda) and teammate Efren Vazquez.
The top six riders were less than a second apart, with Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda) fourth from last-start winner Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda).
"It was a very tough race," said Kent. "On those last four laps I just sat behind and let the other riders do their thing. My strategy worked out well, and then I was able to make my way to the front and stay there."
Australia's Remy Gardner (CIP Mahindra) crashed but was able to remount and finish in 25th position.
“Starting from the backside of the grid is definitely making races difficult for me because my lap times during the first half of the race would have allowed me to be fighting for the points or very close to them," said Gardner. "Fortunately I avoided incidents during first laps but I made a mistake on lap 15 and had a minor crash. Despite of this I could return to the track and finish the Grand Prix."
1. Danny Kent, Leopard Racing, 40m59.419s
2. Enea Bastianini, Gresini Racing, +0.035s
3. Efren Vazquez, Leopard Racing, +0.600s
Australian 25. Remy Gardner, CIP, +1:02.762s
Pole Position: Kent, 1:50.137 = 154.5km/h
Fastest lap and new record: Vazquez, 1:50.606 = 153.8km/h
Championship top 3
Kent 149 • Bastianini 98 • Miguel Oliveira 77
Image courtesy www.motogp.com