The Catalan GP has been home to a number of fantastic battles and after the drama of Mugello, 2016 could very well be another.
Mugello was a weekend full of excitement, hard battles and daring last lap moves across all three World Championship classes, but the majesty of the final lap of the MotoGP™ race will not be forgotten anytime soon. Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP™) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) put it all on the line to try and steal victory, only 0.019 of a second dividing them. It was the closest premier class finish since 2011 and was the Spanish pair’s fiercest battle since 2013. Neither wants to be defeated at home in Barcelona as Lorenzo looks to make it three in a row while Marquez aims to be back on the top step for the first time since Austin. But it’s certainly not just the two Spaniards who will be in the mix.
While Mugello was a glorious weekend for Lorenzo and Marquez, it was a torturous one for Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP™) who had his bike expire while battling for the lead. For the second time in 2016 Rossi walked away without points, now 37 points adrift of the championship lead. This isn’t the first time Rossi has headed to Barcelona, Lorenzo’s backyard, with a deficit in the championship. Back in 2009 Rossi produced one of his most memorable races, besting Lorenzo on the last corner of the last lap and laying down the law at his home.
There’s a lot to play for amongst the top three, but there’s 16 other riders all ready to jump on the podium should the opportunity present itself. Both Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) started on the front row at the 2015 Catalan GP and will be out to do it again. Viñales has continued to grow in 2016, taking a podium in France and another front row in Mugello, the Spaniard always a threat. Pole setter in 2015, Espargaro has had more of a mixed year and is ready to get back to the top six after a rough weekend in Mugello.
The dynamic Ducati Team duo of Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso will also undoubtedly be threats in Qualifying and in the race. Iannone managed to set a new top speed record in Mugello, hitting 354.9Km/h during the race, a powerful engine an added bonus down the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya’s one kilometre straight. In the last three years Iannone and Dovizioso have only once finished inside the top five between them, Iannone fourth in 2015.
Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was back on form in Mugello, taking the Independent Team victory just ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich). The result, with both Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) having difficult weekends, has tightened up the standings, 12 points now separating the leading three.
Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) will be missing the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya because he suffered multiple fractures in his right foot in Mugello and will be substituted by Michele Pirro.