Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Blue on blue
Forty years ago this Saturday Jaws was released in cinemas. The film’s theme tune still reverberates in people’s minds: a spooky riff synonymous with approaching danger.
Over the past four races Jorge Lorenzo has bitten shark-sized chunks out of Valentino Rossi; 28 points, to be exact. With seven rounds done and 11 to go, he is just one point adrift of his team-mate and poised for the kill. Or is he? Perhaps Lorenzo’s momentum is unstoppable or perhaps Rossi can rally himself.
Of course, the nine-time champ has been here before. Way back in 2009 he likened Lorenzo and the other new kids on the block to sharks. “If I am not strong, I know they will eat me in one bite,” he said. “They look at me with a little bit of blood flowing and maybe they think, OK, now is the time.”
Bridgestone today issued their customary post-race debrief, in which head of development Shinji Aoki discusses how the Japanese tire manufacturer handled conditions at Barcelona:
Catalan MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Wednesday, June 17 2015
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo made it four wins in a row after a dominant victory at the Catalan Grand Prix ahead of teammate Valentino Rossi. Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa was third in a race that was run in scorching conditions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
All sessions at the 2015 Catalan Grand Prix were run in dry conditions and Sunday was the hottest day of the race weekend, with a track temperature of 55°C recorded during the twenty-five lap race. During qualifying on Saturday, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR rider Aleix Espargaro set a new Circuit Best Lap record of 1'40.546 in a qualifying session where the existing lap record was beaten by four different riders.
Frustration and resignation. Those were the two most prominent emotions at the post-race MotoGP test at Barcelona. Two sides of the same coin, in reality, as the weather robbed teams in desperate need of track time of any chance of doing the hard work which will make them all a bit more competitive. After an hour and a half of a dry track, a massive thunderstorm washed over the circuit, drenching the track and leaving it wet for the rest of the day. Dani Pedrosa was phlegmatic about the situation. " The weather is what it what is," he shrugged. "Obviously it would have been perfect for it to have stayed dry but we don't control that."
In the Tech 3 garage, Pol Espargaro, suffering badly through a slump in his form, did nothing to hide his frustration. "We tested two things, one of them was not good, one of them was good, we improve a little bit. Then the rain comes, it's impossible to make one fast lap time, impossible to make a rhythm, impossible to make anything. We are looking to go to Assen to continue, because it was a disaster today." It has been a tough year for the younger of the two Espargaro brothers, as he is struggling to ride the Yamaha, a bike which requires a radically different approach than his natural tendency, to move around, and be aggressive.
The rain was perhaps toughest on Marc Márquez. Márquez' biggest problem is on corner entry, where he cannot slide the rear controllably once it touches down during braking. The reigning world champion feels strongly that braking is where he has his biggest advantage, and the ability to either pass or make up time on his opponents. Take away that advantage and he feels shackled, fighting with one hand behind his back.
Press releases after the test at Barcelona:
Bradley Smith leaves Barcelona as the fastest of the MotoGP riders, after heavy rain disrupted testing shortly before midday, and left the track wet for the rest of the day. The weather meant that some teams were forced to change their plans. Yamaha's original plan to go riding in the afternoon was scrapped, the factory heading straight to Aragon for two more days of testing. There, they will be joined by Suzuki, as well as a number of Moto2 teams.
Marc Marquez tested a 2014 chassis for the Repsol Honda team, combining last year's frame with this year's swingarm and engine. He was generally positive about the results, but as he had only done five laps on the chassis, said it was too short to be sure about it. He met with his team to draw up a plan to try it again at Assen, but with the weather at Assen looking unstable, they were unsure of having the time to do it. Dani Pedrosa did not try the chassis, as he is already using a different chassis to the one used by his teammate.
Bradley Smith sits at the top of the timesheets after the first three hours of testing at Barcelona, after rain has halted action at the track. Light rain started around noon, and then a heavy thunderstorm broke over the circuit, drenching the track and chasing everyone back into their garages.
The rain comes as a problem for Honda, who had a lot of work to do on Monday. The factory Yamaha team are more fortunate. The original plan was to ride after 2pm and then head to Aragon, so they will just head to Aragon instead.
Times at 1pm:
Barcelona was the place the champions emerged. In Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP, riders laid a solid claim to the titles in their respective classes. Danny Kent rode with heart and head, and won the Moto3 race with a plan, extending his lead in the championship to 51 points. Johann Zarco pulled back a big gap and made the right move when it mattered most, extending his lead to 40 points. And Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi demolished all-comers to make it a Yamaha one-two, and to push their lead out to 43 and 44 points respectively, the Movistar Yamaha men separated by a single point between them. A lot can happen in the eleven races which remain, but the chances of the three titles not bearing the names of three of those four men are getting slimmer by the race. The fat lady is still a long way from starting to sing, but you get a sneaking suspicion that you just heard her taxi pull up at the artists' entrance.
While in Moto2 and Moto3, the title favorites have a name, in MotoGP we know only the team likely to lift the trophy in Valencia. To say that the factory Movistar Yamaha team dominated the MotoGP race in Barcelona is an understatement. While Valentino Rossi chased another metronomic performance from Jorge Lorenzo, behind them their rivals were either falling by the wayside or finishing nearly twenty seconds off the pace. Marc Márquez, Andrea Dovizioso and Aleix Espargaro crashed, Dani Pedrosa finished third just under twenty seconds behind the Yamahas, and Andrea Iannone was the first factory Ducati home, with a gap equating to a pace nearly a second a lap slower than that of the Yamahas. Jorge Lorenzo has won the last four races on the trot, Valentino Rossi has picked up two more, and not been off the podium so far this season, leaving only Austin to Marc Márquez. Even then, the Repsol Honda man won that race with a much smaller margin than usual at the track.
Jorge Lorenzo gave yet another demonstration of just how strong his riding is at the moment. The Spaniard grabbed the lead at the first corner – frustratingly so for Aleix Espargaro, who had got off the line well but started to suffer as the Suzuki changed up the gearbox, the lack of a seamless shift meaning he lost eight or nine places in the long run down to the first turn – and proceeded to make the break so many feared he would. Marc Márquez gave chase, but lasted less than three laps, the reigning champion throwing his title chances away at the La Caixa corner. Valentino Rossi rode brilliantly to work his way up to second from the third row of the grid, but left himself with too much work to do to catch Lorenzo. As the laps started ticking down, it looked like he might just manage that, but Lorenzo responded just enough to keep a healthy buffer between himself and his teammate. It wasn't an epic race by any stretch of the imagination, but there was tension and there was interest.
Results and summary of the Moto3 race at Barcelona: