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 chequered flag by over five seconds from Pedrosa, with Dovizioso holding off Stoner to take his first podium this year. The reigning world champion 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. Top CRT honour went to local rider Aleix Espargaró on board his Power Electronics Aspar machine.
Lorenzo now has a 20 point lead in the championship over Stoner, with Pedrosa a further ten points behind.