After a thrilling race under the Tuscan sun, the MotoGP riders have a two-week break before heading to Catalunya for Round 7 of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship. Marc Marquez fended off a fearsome attack by Jorge Lorenzo only to be beaten at the line by the departing Yamaha rider.
Crowd favorite, Valentino Rossi saw his challenge go up in smoke – literally; teammate Lorenzo too suffered the same fate, albeit during the warm-up session, thus prompting a lot of head scratching by the Yamaha team. Another couple of teams heading back to the drawing board are Ducati and Suzuki; in particular Andrea Iannone and Maverick Vinales especially after their sluggish start in Mugello which negated their brilliant qualifying positions.
So as the teams head into Barcelona, here are the things to watch out for.
The Catalan Grand Prix has been on the MotoGP calendar since 1996 and will be the 30th time that the race has been held in the Circuit de Catalunya. It is located in Montmelo and has a capacity of 1,40,700, it has a total length of 2.94 miles/4.7 kms and the longest straight is 1047m.
Going on a flying lap of the circuit, the bike flies down the long front straight and brakes hard for the right-handed Elf corner where it is so easy to out-brake yourself and flicks it left for the Renault curve and back right again for the long Turn 3, all the while opening up the throttle through it. Dab on the brakes again for another right-hander Repoil and again at the Seat curve.
A slight kink at Turn 6 and a left-right sequence that’s Turn 7 and Turn 8. A short straight and braking for Campsa and that bring you onto the back straight and hard on the anchors again for La Caixa which is the slowest bend on the circuit, it is important to get a good exit from this corner because this section of the circuit is highly technical and a small error could be costly.
Immediately into an almost 180 degree turn called Banc de Sabadell and past the trio of corners used by the Formula One cars into Turn 12, also called Europcar and rounding the final Turn named New Holland and back onto the front stretch, and that completes the lap.
There are four overtaking hotspots namely the long run into the first corner where a rider can stick his/her down the inside, the next overtaking hotspot is at Turn 5 where the riders can sneak up the inside and be the first to hit the apex, the next overtaking opportunity arrives at the end of the back straight and around La Caixa, the final chance to overtake is around New Holland, a move by Valentino Rossi on teammate Jorge Lorenzo in 2009 is what turned the final corner into a favored overtaking place.
Can anyone stop Brad Binder? Ever since his epic victory from the back of the grid in Jerez, there has been no stopping him. Seeing the stats coming into this race: None of the riders in the current Moto3 grid have won in Catalunya, Brad Binder is aiming to be the first Moto3 rider to win 4 successive grand prix races.
Binder is the only rider to score points in all six races this season, Enea Bastianini has finished 2nd in the last 2 editions of the Catalan GP, Jorge Navarro’s first appearance at the circuit last year registered a 6th place finish, Romano Fenati’s best finish in 4 races is 5th place and Fabio DiGiannantonio’s podium was the first point haul in the 2016 season.
Mahindra’s Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia is one of the few riders who was consistently fighting among the top 5.
The Spanish Armada: Jorge Navarro, Joan Mir, Aron Canet, Juanfran Guevara, Jorge Martin and sole female rider Maria Herrera will be flying the Spanish colors this weekend and will be aiming for a good result in front of the home crowd. Also joining them is Spanish wildcard Albert Arenas who will ride for Mahindra.
Last time around, Frenchman Johann Zarco pulled off a stunning triumph in Mugello by .030 seconds over Lorenzo Baldassarri. Although the on-track action may not be as entertaining as the preceding race, the stats reveal a different story.
Although 6 rounds have been put to bed, no clear favorite has been determined for the championship. Sam Lowes, Alex Rins, Tom Luthi and Johann Zarco have registered wins so far this season but the championship battle is very tightly knit.
The Spanish Armada: Efren Vazquez, Isaac Vinales, Luis Salom, Alex Rins, Axel Pons, Edgar Pons, Julian Simon, Alex Marquez, Ricard Cardus and Xavi Vierge will represent Spain at home this weekend.
Thousands of Italian hearts leaped when Jorge Lorenzo’s bike started billowing smoke during the warm-up and those same hearts broke when Valentino Rossi’s race came to a smoky halt. Barring that, the duel between Marquez and Lorenzo made up for the disappointment.
There are now only 10 points separating the 2 Spaniards and Rossi has some ground to make up having fallen down to 37 points behind Lorenzo. Ducati, despite being very quick, have been utterly inconsistent when the results really mattered.
Iannone would have been kicking himself for royally messing up his front row position and Dovizioso will be ruing his pace or the lack of it when it came to challenging Rossi, Lorenzo and Marquez. Iannone may have been disappointed but another rider who would never forgive himself over his wretched start is Maverick Vinales.
The Spanish youngster has been making waves in MotoGP ever since his debut in the premier class last year. Now that he has been confirmed alongside Rossi he will have his work cut out for him and do his homework on getting a good launch off the start line.
The Spanish Armada: Hector Barbera, Alvaro Bautista, Maverick Vinales, Dani Pedrosa, Aleix Espargaro, Pol Espargaro, Tito Rabat, Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo will be hoping to keep it an all-Spanish affair.
Friday 3rd June
Moto3 FP1:- 8:00am-8:40am (UK), 11:30am-12:10pm (India)
MotoGP FP1:- 8:55am-9:40am (UK), 12:25pm-13:10pm (India)
Moto2 FP1:- 9:55am-10:40am (UK), 13:25pm-14:10pm (India)
Moto3 FP2:- 12:10pm-12:50pm (UK), 15:40pm-16:20pm (India)
MotoGP FP2:- 13:05pm-13:50pm (UK), 16:35pm-17:20pm (India)
Moto2 FP2:- 14:05pm-14:50pm (UK), 17:35pm-18:20pm (India)
Saturday 4th June
Moto3 FP3:- 8:00am-8:40am (UK), 11:30am-12:10pm (India)
MotoGP FP3:- 8:55am-9:40am (UK), 12:25pm-13:10pm (India)
Moto2 FP3:- 9:55am-10:40am (UK), 13:25pm-14:10pm (India)
Moto3 QP: - 11:35am-12:15pm (UK), 15:05pm-15:45pm (India)
MotoGP FP4:- 12:30pm-13:00pm (UK), 16:00pm-16:30pm (India)
MotoGP Q1: - 13:10pm-13:25pm (UK), 16:40pm-16:55pm (India)
MotoGP Q2: - 13:35pm-13:50pm (UK), 17:05pm-17:20pm (India)
Moto2 QP: - 14:05pm-14:50pm (UK), 17:35pm-18:20pm (India)
Sunday 5th June
Moto3 Race: - 10:00am (UK), 14:30pm (India)
Moto2 Race: - 11:20am (UK), 15:50pm (India)
MotoGP Race: - 13:00pm (UK), 17:30pm (India)