Lorenzo fights off Catalunya field

story and photos courtesy MotoGP

Jorge Lorenzo leads the pack in Catalunya

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo has won the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya for the third time in four years, beating Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez on Sunday afternoon. Valentino Rossi rode a lonely race to fourth position while as many as eight riders retired, including Cal Crutchlow who crashed out on the sixth lap.

Two weeks ago, Lorenzo had sealed his second victory of the campaign in Italy, and he now becomes the first rider to win three times in 2013, moving to within seven points of championship-leading Pedrosa. This afternoon, the Mallorcan made the most of the battling Hondas to pull out a lead of over one second with four laps to go.

As he rode to victory, Pedrosa was forced to fight a rear-guard action even though Marquez had almost removed himself from the race on the penultimate lap. Heading into Turn 4 on the 24th of the 25 tours, Marquez suffered a significant scare and came perilously close to losing the front end of his bike. He would go on to reduce a six-tenth of a second margin to finish the race just six hundredths behind Pedrosa, although the key to his day had been a strong getaway from sixth on the grid.

Taking advantage of the dramas in front of him – such as accidents for Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow and Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, going out in separate solo incidents on the tenth lap – Stefan Bradl enjoyed a second consecutive top five finish as Tech 3’s Bradley Smith celebrated a personal best result of sixth.

The leading CRT rider for the sixth time in as many Grand Prix this season, Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, finished eighth for the second race in a row, while GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista was upset to have crashed on the opening lap following a near-miss with Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha.

Also in the gravel at the La Caixa corner were PBM’s Michael Laverty and Ignite Pramac Racing’s Michele Pirro, although the Italian went on to finish tenth. The high attrition allowed an assortment of riders to enjoy their best races of the season, including Australian newcomer Bryan Staring who finished 14th to score the first points for the Gresini CRT bike. Scoring on his debut was Avintia Blusens’ Javier del Amor, substituting for Hiroshi Aoyama who injured a finger in a crash on Saturday.

The majority of the MotoGP grid will stay on for a one-day test tomorrow at the Montmelo circuit.

MotoGP™ Race Classification
1- Jorge Lorenzo SPA Yamaha 43’06.479
2- Dani Pedrosa SPA Honda 1.763
3- Marc Marquez SPA Honda 1.826
1st CRT 8- Aleix Espargaro SPA ART 58.615


Pol Espargaro

Pol Espargaro has claimed his second victory of the Moto2™ campaign, winning Sunday’s Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya after fending off teammate Esteve Rabat. In third place, Tom Luthi returned to the podium for the first time since Brno 2012.

It was a race of high attrition in which 11 of the 34 starters failed to make the finish on another warm afternoon in Catalunya. On Saturday, Espargaro had taken pole position and was only headed this afternoon when he allowed Tuenti HP 40 teammate Rabat through, only to retake the lead on Lap 17. Rabat mounted a strong attack on the final lap and would be less than one tenth of a second behind at the finish line.

Several riders ran into trouble, not least Blusens Avintia’s Toni Elias who was caught up in drama at the first corner. It was also a disappointing conclusion for Dynavolt Intact GP’s reigning Moto3™ World Champion Sandro Cortese, who pitted after going off at Turn 10, suffering from when Elias had collided with him, and Jordi Torres, who crashed his Aspar Team Moto2 bike out of the race in the middle of the first chicane on the 18th of the 23 laps.

Having demonstrated strong form in practice, Luthi was thrilled to claim his first podium finish of the season for Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing, despite being yet to fully recover from injuries sustained in a Valencia pre-season testing accident. Scott Redding maintains his championship lead courtesy of fourth place for Marc VDS Racing Team, with Takaaki Nakagami fifth for Italtrans Racing Team.

The top ten was completed by Technomag carXpert’s Randy Krummenacher, Came IodaRacing Project’s Johann Zarco, Krummenacher’s teammate Dominique Aegerter, Marc VDS’ Mika Kallio and NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Simone Corsi.

Moto2™ Race Classification
1- Pol Espargaro SPA Kalex 41’17.307
2- Tito Rabat SPA Kalex 0.081
3- Thomas Luthi SWI Suter 6.264

Luis Salom

Luis Salom has won the Moto3™ Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya to take the lead in the World Championship. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider carried out a well-judged race, saving tyres before hitting the front in the closing stages. Alex Rins and Maverick Viñales completed the podium as the top five places were filled by Spaniards.

Salom’s second consecutive victory makes him the first rider to have won three races so far in 2013, also continuing his 100% podium record which helps him move ahead in the standings. In the opening stages he ran at the back of the front group to conserve his Dunlops, but elected to move ahead six laps from home and promptly pulled out enough of an advantage.

The race featured several leaders early on, including Estrella Galicia duo Rins and Alex Marquez as well as Team Calvo’s Viñales. Heading into the final two laps, Marquez and Mahindra Racing’s returning Efren Vazquez fell back which ensured a three-rider fight at the front; despite the best efforts of Viñales in the stadium section at the end of the lap, Salom had pulled out enough of a cushion on the back straight.

Behind what was the leading group for much of the afternoon, Miguel Oliveira rode the second Mahindra to sixth place as Caretta Technology – RTG’s Jack Miller finished seventh after running as high as third. The top ten was completed by Ongetta-Rivacold’s Alexis Masbou and Salom’s teammates Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Arthur Sissis. In 15th place, San Carlo Team Italia’s Romano Fenati finished in the points for the third time this year.

Six riders failed to make the finish. GO&FUN Gresini Moto3’s Niccolo Antonelli made a mistake at Turn 4 whereas Marc VDS Racing Team’s Livio Loi and Redox RW Racing GP’s Jakub Kornfeil collided at Turn 5, taking the former out of the race before the latter pulled into the pits several laps later. Loi was taken to hospital later for preliminary checks after suffering concussion. Three riders were removed in a multiple collision into the stadium section on the opening lap, as contact between RW Racing GP’s Jasper Iwema and Avant Tecno’s Niklas Ajo saw the pair collect Kiefer Racing’s Toni Finsterbusch who was approaching on the outside line.

Moto3™ Race Classification
1- Luis Salom SPA KTM 41’15.331
2- Alex Rins SPA KTM 0.211
3- Maverick Viñales SPA KTM 0.634

EARLIER: Pedrosa blazes to Catalunya record pole

Dani Pedrosa on pole at Catalunya

Sunday’s MotoGP™ race at the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya will start with Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa on pole following an exciting qualifying session on Saturday afternoon. Also on the front row, for what promises to be a superb race, are Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo.

Pedrosa is in impressive form on his 200th Grand Prix weekend and his pole time of 1’40.893 is the best ever lap of Catalunya. Slotting themselves in on the front row and also looking to get away from the chasing pack tomorrow are Crutchlow and Lorenzo, with the pair trailing pole-man Pedrosa by 0.608s and 0.673s respectively. Lorenzo overcame an early clutch problem, swapping bikes to make the front row.

From the second row, GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, who had his best qualifying of the year, Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez will also be hoping to mount podium challenges, having all qualified within a second of pole.

From row three, the Italian trio of Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi, Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso will all aim to make their final improvements in Warm Up on Sunday morning in order to be able to challenge the leading six on the grid.

Iannone impressed in eighth having made it through from Q1 with Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith who qualified 11th, sandwiched by 10th placed LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl and 12th placed Power Electronics Aspar man Aleix Espargaro – the only CRT rider to make Q2.

The scorching heat at the Circuit de Catalunya – track temperatures reached 57°C during qualifying – is forecast to continue on Sunday, meaning that tyre tactics will be as important as ever for the sixth race of the season. Many riders remain undecided, whilst Ducati pair Hayden and Dovizioso have already ruled out the harder option.

MotoGP™ Qualifying Practice Classification
1- Dani Pedrosa SPA Honda 1:40.893
2- Cal Crutchlow GBR Yamaha 1:41.501
3- Jorge Lorenzo SPA Yamaha 1:41.566
1st CRT 12- Aleix Espargaro SPA ART 1:42.878

The Moto2™ contest on Sunday at the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya will get underway with Pol Espargaro on pole, whilst Scott Redding and Tito Rabat will start just behind him on the grid.

Local rider Espargaro set a rapid pace in qualifying, the Tuenti HP 40 man emerging on top thanks to a 1’46.410 lap on Saturday afternoon, in scorching heat at the brilliant Circuit de Catalunya. Marc VDS Racing Team’s standings leader Redding ended up 0.619s adrift of pole, whilst Espargaro’s Tuenti HP 40 colleague Rabat completed the front row with a similar time to Redding’s.

Indeed another similar lap time from Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami has him at the front of row two, 0.688s off pole man Espargaro. Despite an early crash, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis made row two as well, with Came IodaRacing Project’s Johann Zarco in sixth.

The third row features Aspar Team Moto2’s Jordi Torres, Technomag carXpert’s Randy Krummenacher and Moto3 World Champion Sandro Cortese – who rides for Dynavolt Intact GP.

The top ten was rounded out by Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing’s Thomas Luthi, who will be disappointed with that position having shown good pace in free practice.

There were crashes for Thai Honda PTT Gresini’s Ratthapark Wilairot and Blusens Avintia’s Kyle Smith towards the end of the session, but both riders emerged without major problems.

Moto2™ Qualifying Practice Classification
1- Pol Espargaro SPA Kalex 1:46.410
2- Scott Redding GBR Kalex 1:47.029
3- Tito Rabat SPA Kalex 1:47.076

Moto3™ Qualifying Practice Classification
1- Luis Salom SPA KTM 1:50.782
2- Alex Rins SPA KTM 1:51.108
3- Miguel Oliveira POR Mahindra 1:51.540

EARLIER: Rossi Hot in Scorching Catalunya!

Valentino Rossi!

Though it seems like a long time ago now, Valentino Rossi has won 9 world champions. Rossi posted a late lap time to go quickest on the first day of free practice at the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya ahead of Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Jorge Lorenzo and championship leader Dani Pedrosa for the Repsol Honda Team.

Set in the afternoon session, which saw track temperatures of 53 degrees Celsius, Rossi completed 17 laps and achieved a best effort of 1’42.297, leading Lorenzo by just 49 thousandths of a second, with Pedrosa one and a half tenths off the pace with a time set in the cooler morning conditions. Alvaro Bautista recovered from a morning accident to go fifth for GO&FUN Honda Gresini, rounding out the top five behind Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, who was only the second other rider in the top ten to set his quickest lap in the morning.

Repsol’s Marc Marquez ended Day 1 of his first premier-class home Grand Prix event in sixth position, having already pinpointed the Circuit de Catalunya weekend as one of the most difficult of the season. In seventh place, Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden beat Alex Barros’ 2004 record for the highest top speed at the track, posting a 339.4km/h (210.8mph).

The first ten was completed by Hayden’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso, LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, who is one of six Spanish rides in the field this weekend. Despite finishing ninth, Bradl suffered another fall as the German lost control of his Honda at La Caixa curve after loosing the front under braking. The sixth Spaniard, Avintia Blusens’ Hector Barbera, ended the day in 15th position as Tech 3’s Bradley Smith was taken to the Medical Centre for a check-up following an accident at the sweeping Turn 3.

Much of the focus of the day was on tyre choice for the race, with the majority of riders already stating that the harder option front is a certain choice, whilst many will be using Saturday to decide between the softer or harder option rear.

Pol Espargaro put his name atop the classification on the first day of Moto2™ practice in Montmelo for the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya on Friday. A favourite with the locals, the Tuenti HP 40 rider led Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing’s Tom Luthi and NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis as increasing heat left onlookers looking for shade.

Friday brought a sweltering start to the sixth race weekend of the season, with the top three riders unable to improve their lap times in the afternoon. Although Espargaro topped both sessions, it was his morning lap time of 1’46.985 that was the benchmark that saw off Luthi by one and three quarter tenths of a second. Behind De Angelis, Marc VDS Racing Team’s championship leader Scott Redding was fourth quickest.

Takaaki Nakagami completed the top five for Italtrans Racing Team, with Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Jordi Torres sixth ahead of Came IodaRacing Project’s Johann Zarco and Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter in eighth. Tuenti HP 40’s Esteve Rabat posted the ninth fastest time of the day, with Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio completing the top ten with a time set in the morning session.

QMMF Racing’s Ant West suffered a small crash at Turn 5 in the morning, whilst a further two crashes came in the afternoon as his teammate Rafid Topan Sucipto and Blusens Avintia’s Kyle Smith suffered incidents. Some of the riders spoke afterwards about high tyre wear in the hot temperatures, although this may not affect the race, which is run much closer to mid-day than the preceding FP and QP sessions.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom ended the first day of Moto3 practice at the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya in Montmelo top, holding off Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Isaac Viñales and Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Marquez.

Salom set his best lap in the cooler morning practice, whilst it was Isaac Viñales who was quickest as Moto3™ practice continued in Barcelona on Friday afternoon. The Ongetta-Centro Seta rider led Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Marquez and championship-leading younger cousin Maverick Viñales of Team Calvo, who ended the day in fourth.

The remaining top seven all posted their best times in the afternoon, with Marquez’s teammate Alex Rins in fifth ahead of a resurgent Efren Vazquez on his Mahindra Racing machine, and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Niccolo Antonelli. The top ten was rounded out by Mahindra’s Miguel Oliveira, Ambrogio Racing’s Brad Binder and Caretta Technology-RTG’s Jack Miller, with Binder being the only one of the trio to set his fast lap in the afternoon.

There were falls for San Carlo Team Italia’s Francesco Bagnaia and Gresini’s Lorenzo Baldassarri, but worse news for Mugello pole-sitter Jonas Folger; having injured his right wrist in a motocross accident on Wednesday of last week, the German Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3 rider – who finished 33rd in first practice this morning – is sitting out the remainder of the weekend.

Following a crash in which he bruised both of his feet, Avant Tecno’s Niklas Ajo was taken to the Medical Centre but declared fit to continue on Saturday.