Sunday’s Catalan Grand Prix certainly lived up to expectations as an exciting race. With battles fought intensely in all 3 categories, the fans certainly got their money’s worth of entertainment. MotoGP saw a shock qualifying result where the Suzuki duo of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales locked out the top 2 positions with Lorenzo in 3rd.
In Moto2, pole was taken by Zarco with Folger and Rabat hot on his heels. Moto3 apparently was a messy affair with multiple penalties being threatened due to multiple riders supposedly obstructing others, but Enea Bastianini stamped his authority on the race by the time the session came to a close.
With the field scrambled due to the changing conditions and respective penalties, the Catalan crowd was in for another classic Moto3 dogfight. Before the race even started there were problems for Alexis Masbou who was forced to start from the pitlane. When the lights went out it was business as usual with the pack bunching up together and swapping positions almost every 2 corners. Kent led from the start and tried to break away but the riders led by Miguel Oliveira reeled him in. a group of 6 soon turned into a group of 10-12. Masbou steadily worked his way up the grid but by the time the chequered flag waved it was too late and he had to settle for some well earned points. At times the groups started to thin out due to a few fallers. The main highlight of the race was the 4 rider battle for the lead of the race which threatened to look ugly during the closing stages, it was anyone’s race with 6 riders separated by a full second at the finish line. Kent, Bastianini, Vazquez, Antonelli, Oliveira and Navarro utilized several opportunities to search for the win.But Leopard Racing’s Kent was simply unstoppable and they finished in the above mentioned order.
Unlike the previous races, Moto2 continued where the Moto3 left off. For once there was a scintillating scuffle for the lead between Tito Rabat and Alex Rins. Meanwhile Johann Zarco quietly sneaked into 3rd and watched the drama unfold as Rins repeatedly tried and failed to rein in Rabat. The highlight of the race was the last 2 laps when Rins missed the braking point Zarco needed no second invitation. On the final lap Rabat too crumbled under pressure and Zarco instantly swooped in. it was further heartbreak for Rabat when he tried a move on Zarco in a last ditch attempt but ran wide, Rins immediately robbed the second podium spot from a distraught Tito. Championship hopeful Sam Lowes finished a distant fourth.
With the junior classes wrapped up it was time for the main event. All eyes were on the 2 Suzuki bikes. Will they have the pace to beat the Yamahas, the Hondas and the Ducatis as shown in practice? Or will they be out dragged and swallowed up by the pack? With Jorge on the outside poised to attack and Marquez, Dovizioso, Pedrosa, Rossi and Iannone raring to go as well things wouldn’t quite go their way.
From lights out Suzuki immediately knew they were out of their depth because by the time the chopping and changing had ceased the 2 hapless Spaniards found themselves in 8th and 13th respectively.
Luckily for them a few overtaking maneuvers and spills by other riders brought Maverick Viñales up to finish 6th meanwhile his more experienced teammate Aleix Espargaro didn’t last long enough to see the chequered flag. He wasn’t the only one though, Crutchlow was the first big name down with a nasty highside. The big surprise was when Marquez decided to go sightseeing after attempting an optimistic lunge down the inside of Lorenzo almost wiping out the Yamaha rider in the process. Dovizioso another fierce contender also binned it and joined Marquez in the sidelines.
Meanwhile, back at the front Lorenzo was setting a blistering pace - it almost seemed as if he was invincible. Rossi decided to take him on with a possible repeat of the 2009 Grand Prix. Pedrosa meanwhile had been forgotten in a lonely 3rd place with Iannone too far behind him and Rossi too far ahead. Although Lorenzo crossed the line 0.8 seconds in front of the veteran, Rossi did make the Majorcan sweat from time to time by closing the gap between them ocassionally forcing Jorge to dig deep and open it up once again.
However MotoGP isn’t always about the riders and fast racing. They accomplish only 10% of the task, with the main operations decided by the strategy, the right amount of fuel and the right tire choice. Given the temperature at a suitable level during the race, tire choice was critical for the win. With all this carefully thought out planning by each team I would like to think of it as a “High Speed Game Of Chess”. For this race many riders including Lorenzo played it safe with the softer option tire, others tried to gamble by going for the harder prime tire. For some riders the gamble reaped rewards but for others the delay in warming up the tires saw the likes of Crutchlow and Dovizioso lose the front end and crash.
All in all, none of the 3 motorbike classes disappointed the fans, providing proper wheel to wheel racing.
After Round 7, in the Moto3 standings Danny Kent is 51 points ahead of his closest championship rival Enea “The Beast” Bastianini, the Moto2 the championship fight is more or less in Zarco’s favour with 134 point to 2nd placed Tito Rabat who is on 94 points, MotoGP however is a completely different story with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo separate by a single point with 138 and 137 points respectively as the MotoGP circus heads to Assen, Netherlands in 12 days time. So without further ado onwards to round 8 !!!