Lorenzo Brings it on Home at Catalunya

MotoGP Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya, June 1-3, 2012

On a weekend that featured tremendous races in all three MotoGP classes, it was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo who stormed to victory in the premier-class at the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya in front of his home crowd ahead of Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso.

After a wet morning warm-up, the field got away in dry conditions this afternoon, and it was Repsol Honda Team’s Pedrosa who got the holeshot from the second row, hotly pursued by Yamaha´s Ben Spies, who also had a tremendous start from fourth. Lorenzo pushed his way past Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner into third, as the whole grid was tightly bunched in the first lap.

Within a few corners, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso muscled his way past Stoner, who subsequently ran wide a lap later, also letting through the Italian’s teammate Cal Crutchlow. With 23 laps left, Spies, who looked to have the superior pace over Pedrosa, made a move on the Spaniard, yet ran wide and dropped his bike in the dirt. This put paid to what had been his most promising start to a race this season.

With 21 laps remaining, the front five of Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Crutchlow and Stoner started to pull out a gap to the following group, led by San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista. On the same lap, Avintia Blusens’ Yonny Hernandez ran off track, yet managed to avoid the gravel trap.

Two laps later Lorenzo went past Pedrosa on the brakes down the home straight, while Stoner took Crutchlow for fourth shortly after. Further down the field, Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi passed LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl for seventh, and started pursuing Bautista. Spies, who did manage to remount after his crash, had made his way back to 12th at this point.

Pedrosa made use of superior drive on the straight with 14 laps left, as he passed Lorenzo in the slipstream, yet could not shake him on the ensuing lap. One lap later, Lorenzo was too late on the brakes into the first turn, letting Dovizioso close the gap once more, and making yet more work for himself to catch his compatriot at the front.

Dovizioso had a moment eleven laps before the end, dropping off the pace just briefly, while Crutchlow ran very deep into the first corner in his battle for fourth. Stoner, Pedrosa and Bradl were the only bikes in the top ten with the hard compound rear tyre, yet at the half way point there was no obvious advantage, as Lorenzo, on the softer compound, was slowly closing the gap to the Spanish Repsol Honda rider.

With just six laps remaining, Lorenzo was right on the rear wheel of Pedrosa, as the pair were involved in a nail-biting tussle for the lead. It was the Repsol rider who subsequently made a mistake with a big wheelie, which allowed Lorenzo past in the following corner. Behind the pair, Dovizioso, Stoner and Crutchlow where involved in a battle for third, whilst they were followed further down by Bautista and Rossi fighting it out for sixth.

With three laps to go, Lorenzo started to open up a small advantage, while Crutchlow was on the back of Stoner’s rear wheel, though was struggling to find a way past. The final lap however, saw the Australian drop the Brit and hunt down Dovizioso.

Yet in the end it was Lorenzo who took the checkered flag by over five seconds from Pedrosa, with Dovizioso holding off Stoner to take his first podium this year. “I’m really happy with this victory, as it was a very tough weekend,” Lorenzo said. “We performed a lot better than yesterday, as in qualifying it was very hot. The grip on the track after the rain this morning was also not so great. At the beginning of the race when I was following Ben and Dani, it was very easy to make a mistake under braking and touch them, so I waited calmly for my opportunity. When Ben made a mistake, I moved up. I followed Dani and watched him. He slowed his pace and eventually made a mistake, so I was able to pass him then give it full throttle.”

“A second place is always a second, but I really wanted to win today,” said Pedrosa. “I cannot feel happy. We’ve worked very hard during the practice sessions to be ready to win, but finally we couldn’t make it, so it’s a little bit disappointing. I pushed as much as I could, but in the final laps I had some issues to stay on the racing line. I pushed my best in the middle of the race. I tried to attack, but with 10 laps remaining, I couldn’t keep the pace. It was hard to control the bike on braking and in the exit of the corners, so I was defensive because I knew my corner speed was not so good. I made a mistake, and I had a big wheelie, so Jorge got past me and I couldn’t follow him.”

“I am really happy to get my first podium for Yamaha, and this is a fantastic reward for all the effort my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew has put in since I came to this team,” said Dovizioso. “We have been building up to this result for a while now, but it is great to be battling at the front in MotoGP on a satellite machine, and I’m sure nobody expected us to be doing this so early. It was a very hard race because there wasn’t a lot of grip, but I am really happy because I was able to fight very close to Pedrosa and Lorenzo, who are so strong on this track. I was only losing one- or two-tenths, and this is very positive. Maybe I could have stayed with them and fought for the win, but I made a small mistake, and that cost me a lot of time. I found my pace again, but in the final laps Casey and Cal caught me, but I was determined to finish on the podium. I could hear Casey’s bike and knew he was looking to attack, but I tried to give my maximum while not making a mistake.”

The reigning world champion Stoner finished fourth, which is the first time he hasn’t stood on the podium since Jerez last year. The top ten were completed by Cal Crutchlow, Álvaro Bautista, Valentino Rossi, Stefan Bradl, Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies. “I’m more disappointed for the team than for me because I felt good with the bike, and we definitely had a bike to be on the podium today,” said Spies. “I just made one mistake in the race and blew our chance. We were going good in the beginning, but I was getting impatient with Dani. He was holding me up, but I couldn’t make the pass on the straight, so I had to go for it on the brakes and unfortunately got out onto the edge of the track. I got up, and we got back into it, and our pace was pretty good. Unfortunately, it was too late to get back to the front.”

“It was very difficult for me because I started having a problem with my hand going to sleep,” said Hayden. “I felt it a little bit in qualifying yesterday, so we did some treatment last night with the team physio, but the problem returned in the race. I’ve had it happen a couple of other times in my career, and around here, with so much hard braking, I could hardly feel the brake lever or the throttle. On the straightaway, I could move my fingers and get some feeling back, but then it would return. My pace was OK in the beginning, but after that group got away, I really just tried to bring the bike home without crashing since I couldn’t feel how hard I was braking.”

Top CRT honour went to local rider Aleix Espargaró on board his Power Electronics Aspar machine. “I went out there today and did my best,” said CRT racer Colin Edwards. “Started changing the gears, going up through the gearbox, and the clutch started slipping and I wasn’t going anywhere. Everybody passed me on the straight into Turn 1. I got going, and the bike just felt so different than it did yesterday: Tires reacting differently to the cooler temperature, couldn’t get them to stick in the bike. It just felt so stiff. The only way to steer the bike was with the throttle. Getting in the corner, we were lacking a lot of grip. I had to ride a lot different to how I did yesterday to try to survive and managed by slowly trying to keep the pace. The tire dropped off, and I dropped off a bit. And coming out of Turn 11, with five or six laps to go, it just kind of stopped, full throttle but no rpms, nothing was happening and I knew something broke, so I thought: “Well, the bike is still going, so I’ll try to survive the last couple of laps in case something happens and I can get points.” In the last lap on Turn 4, it just quit completely, and I would do about 3 miles an hour no matter what I did with the throttle. It wouldn’t even make it to the finish line, so I just came in the pits.”

Lorenzo now has a 20 point lead in the championship over Stoner, with Pedrosa a further ten points behind.


Andrea Iannone leads Tom Lüthi past the checkered flag

At the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya it was Andrea Iannone who took his first victory of the season in a thrilling Moto2 race in front of Tom Lüthi and Marc Márquez.

Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Márquez took the holeshot, as an almighty scrap for second place ensued behind. Turn one already saw S/Master Speed Up’s Mike di Meglio, Blusens Avintia’s Julián Simón, Federal Oil Gresini’s Gino Rea and Italtrans Racing’s Claudio Corti involved in a crash, with only Corti making it back out on track. None of the riders were hurt.

Márquez’s good jump from the line was short lived as Speed Master’s Iannone took advantage of the Spaniard running wide. He led the initial stages from Technomag-CIP’s Dominique Aegerter and Mapfre Aspar Team’s Toni Elías, in front of Márquez and Interwetten-Paddock’s Lüthi. Elías soon took second with a bold move, though was immediately taken by Márquez, who hunted down Iannone.

With 18 laps to go, Lüthi had made it into third, and a group with Iannone, Márquez and the Swiss rider soon started pulling out a led. On the same lap, Technomag-CIP’s Roberto Rolfo received a ride through penalty after a jump-start.

The scrap at the front was getting fierce with 18 laps left as Márquez passed Iannone down the straight, though the Italian stuck to the Spaniards rear wheel and took him back two laps later. Lüthi took advantage of this and put in a brave move on Márquez to take second. The scrap did however let Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s championship leader Pol Espargaró catch up to the back, making it a four way battle 11 laps from the end.

One lap later, Márquez retook Lüthi on the home straight to hunt down the Italian at the front. The pursuing group was being led by Espargaró’s teammate Esteve Rabat ahead of Aegerter, Elías, Came IodaRacing Project’s Simone Corsi and the Marc VDS Racing Team pair of Scott Redding and Mika Kallio.

Back at the front with nine laps to go Márquez got past Iannone on the straight, yet the Italian fought straight back and re-took him three corners later. Yet with seven laps to go Iannone ran wide, letting the Spaniard through once more. This was again short lived as the Italian fought back and re-took the lead. On the same lap, Elías crashed out of sixth place, yet walked away unscathed.

With five laps left, Espargaró started his charge through the pack, as he went past Lüthi to take third. However, with three laps remaining Lüthi overtook the local down the strait, as the four at the front were involved in an engrossing battle at the front.

With three laps left there was huge drama for the home crowd, as Lüthi went past Márquez, who subsequently almost lost the front of his bike. As he saved a near crash, he pulled back in front of Espargaró who was thrown off his bike in a violent fashion. He fortunately escaped any serious injury, though was visibly upset at loosing out in front of his home fans.

The last lap was equally as tense, as Lüthi, who had passed Iannone for the lead, was re-taken by the Italian in a brave move into turn one. The pair tussled fairing-to-fairing in the last lap, yet it was Iannone who held his nerve to take the win ahead of the Swiss rider and Marc Márquez. The top ten were completed by Esteve Rabat, Simone Corsi, Italtrans’ Takaaki Nakagami, Dominique Aegerter, GP Team Switzerland’s Randy Krummenacher, Mika Kallio and Scott Redding.

The crash involving Espargaró and Márquez was subsequently investigated by Race Direction, which issued Márquez with 60-second penalty, relegating him to 23th spot. His team however appealed the penalty with the FIM Stewards, who did not confirm the decision, meaning it was consequently overturned. This leaves Márquez in second place in the championship, two points behind Lüthi. Protocol dictates that an appeal may be lodged with the FIM CDI.

Movin’ Maverick Viñales

Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales won his home race from pole position at the Moto3 round of the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya in dominant fashion, in front of Sandro Cortese and Miguel Oliveira.

Having started in dry conditions, it was AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin who got the holeshot, yet it was Racing Team Germany’s Louis Rossi who bravely pushed his way to the front in turn two, to lead the opening stages. Pole-sitter Viñales did not get a great start, as he was passed down to fourth by Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese.

RW Racing GP’s Luis Salóm also struggled at the start as he dropped to 11th place, while Bankia Aspar Team’s Hector Faubel was making his way up to the front group. An initial tussle ensued between Rossi, Cortese, Viñales, as well as Khairuddin, which was soon joined by JHK T-Shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez, who had a tremendous start.

Khairuddin led for a lap, yet was passed on the home straight by Viñales and Rossi. The Malaysian rider soon appeared to be struggling, as more riders passed him after running wide. With 18 laps to go, Viñales, Rossi and Vázquez started to pull out a small lead, ahead of the following group led by Cortese.

With 13 laps to go the leading group had grown to seven riders fighting it out, with Viñales leading from Rossi, Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Márquez, Vázquez, Márquez’s teammate Miguel Oliveira, Cortese and Faubel. Viñales soon put the hammer down and was starting to pull away slightly, as he left the pursuing six to fight it out, with Cortese and Rossi passing aggressively going into turn one.

With 11 laps left, Team Italia FMI’s Alessandro Tonucci crashed out of the race, putting an end to his bid for points. A few laps later, Khairuddin, who came onto the straight in eighth place, pulled a stunning move into turn one to take second, though was pushed back to third a lap later by Rossi.

There was drama seven laps from the end as Vázquez crashed out of the fight for second, while Oliveira’s teammate Alex Rins also crashed out of his home race. Caretta Technology’s Alexis Masbou had joined the group and was making a bid for second place five laps before the end, although positions kept swapping frequently throughout. A lap before it was misery for Mahindra Racing Team, as Danny Webb crashed out and Marcel Schrotter retired with a mechanical issue.

With three laps remaining, the fight for final podium positions was fierce, with none of the Moto3 chargers wishing to budge. Adding yet another twist, Rossi’s exhaust was dangling off his bike, while early-season sensation, Team Italia FMI’s Romano Fenati, caught up to the back of the group.

After a thrilling last lap, during which eight riders were scrapping it out for the final two podium spots, it was Viñales who took the chequered flag by over seven seconds ahead of Cortese and Oliveira, who recorded his first ever top three spot. They were closely followed by Louis Rossi, Alexis Masbou, Alex Márquez, Hector Faubel, Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Romano Fenati, with Luis Salóm completing the top ten.

With his victory, Viñales has now closed the gap to championship leader Cortese to seven points.

Lame Duck Stoner Takes Pole at Catalunya

Stoner slides it around the corner

Under glorious sunshine in scorching hot temperatures the MotoGP contingent took to the track to battle it out for grid spots for the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya. In the premier class, it was Repsol Honda Team’s Casey Stoner who secured pole position in dominant fashion ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow.

With a fast lap in the low 1.41s, set with a soft rear tire, Stoner relegated Yamaha Racing Team’s local rider Lorenzo into second on the grid, who was just over a tenth down on the current world champion. Stoner stated after the session that he will most likely be racing with the hard rear tire, after sighting that the soft compound’s wear rate seems too high for the race.

Rounding out the front row is Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, who equalled his best ever start, yet will be looking to convert it into a podium for the first time in his MotoGP career. Contrary to Stoner, Crutchlow confirmed that he would be starting the race with the soft compound, as he believes the hard tyre does not give a significant advantage.

Just fractionally slower, Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies will start from fourth, putting himself in contention for a much needed positive race result tomorrow. Next to him in fifth is Stoner’s teammate and local favourite Dani Pedrosa, who ran off track in turn 10 on his hot-lap after out-braking himself, and was unable to improve on his time. Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso completes row two in sixth place, after having led the qualifying session in the early stages.

Seventh on the grid is Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, who looked strong all day after posting the fifth fastest time in the morning practice. He ousted LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl into eighth, who recovered from a small crash yesterday to finish as top Honda satellite rider.

Ninth spot is occupied by Ducati’s Valentino Rossi, who, following a difficult day yesterday, managed to rediscover some place after reverting back to a carbon fibre swingarm and old settings. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista completes the top ten, failing to emulate his second place in yesterday’s practice.

Highest CRT spot went to Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet in 13th, who managed to beat his local teammate Aleix Espargaró for the first time this weekend. Apart from Pedrosa’s excursion off track, the only other rider to take a detour through the gravel was Avintia Blusens’ Yonny Hernandez and Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham at the end.

Marky Marc Márquez hard on the fronts

Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez will start tomorrow’s Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya from pole position after setting the fastest lap in Moto2 qualifying practice ahead of Pol Espargaró and Tom Lüthi.

Following some very subdued practice sessions, local hero Márquez silenced any doubters with a hot lap of 1.46’187 to claim the 25th pole position of his career. Just under two tenths behind was Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s Pol Espargaró, making it a Spanish one-two on the front row. Rounding out the front of the grid is Interwetten-Paddock’s pace-setter of yesterday, Tom Lüthi, who looked to be struggling just slightly in the very hot conditions.

Starting from fourth is Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone, in front of compatriot Simone Corsi. Corsi, who is one of the few FTR riders with his Came IodaRacing Project team, was a surprise inclusion at the front, after there had been doubts about the bike’s competitiveness. Technomag-CIP’s Dominique Aegerter consolidated a solid weekend with sixth.

Heading the third row is Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding, who will be disappointed with his time after being the pace-man this morning. Redding was too late to put in a final run, as he took the chequered flag just as he was to embark on his final lap. He sits in front of Mapfre Aspar Team’s Toni Elías, who showed a marked improvement over previous sessions. The third row is completed by Espargaró’s teammate Esteve Rabat.

The top ten is completed by NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis, while Tech 3 Racing’s stand-in rider Jordi Torres recorded a terrific 11th place on his first outing for the team.

It was a miserable session for Blusens Avintia’s Julián Simón who crashed for the second time today, yet walked away unhurt. Another incident saw Arguiñano Racing Team’s Ricky Cardús crash out after Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami pulled in front of the Spanish rider. Cardús was unhurt in the crash, while Nakagami only suffered some bike damage.

At the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya in the Moto3 class it was Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales who set the fastest lap to grab pole position ahead of AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Louis Rossi.

A lap of 1.52’160, the fastest lap of the class all weekend, was enough to displace a surging Khairuddin, who has had a tremendous weekend so far. Completing the front row is last race winner, Racing Team Germany’s Rossi, still brimming with confidence after his victory in Le Mans.

However, the story of the day was Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese, who starts from fourth, after suffering a heavy crash in this morning’s practice session. He suffered heavy bruising to his right hand, and had to have blood drained during the session. Fifth place went to Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Miguel Oliveira, who was at the centre of drama late on in the session, as a swift move across the track took out Technomag-CIP-TSR’s Alan Techer and RW Racing GP’s Brad Binder. None of the riders were hurt in the incident.

The second row is rounded out by Binder’s teammate Luis Salom, who will aim to mix it up at the front to please the home crowd. Leading row three is Caretta Technology’s Alexis Masbou in seventh, ahead of JHK T-Shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez in eighth. Bankia Aspar’s Héctor Faubel and San Carlo Gresini Moto3’s Niccolo Antonelli complete the top ten.

Team Italia FMI’s Romano Fenati, who had been expected to be further up the field, could only manage 13th. Apart from the last minute crash involving Oliveira, TT Motion Events Racing’s Niklas Ajo crashed out after seven minutes, yet managed to re join the session later on.

courtesy of MotoGP