With the promised rain stopping before the start of the MotoGP race but leaving plenty of water behind, it looked to be another episode of the Flag-to-Flag Show, the famous nerve-wracking soap opera tending to throw massive surprises. Well no pitstops were needed in the end but the massive shocks were still on the menu, Cal Crutchlow sailing into a decisive victory and giving Great Britain their first MotoGP win in thirty-five years. It was also the sixth different winner in consecutive races in the top class.
Seven seconds down on the LCR rider finished Valentino Rossi, both gambling on harder option rear tyres, dropping back massively at the beginning of the race and fighting it off outside the top ten only to get up to speed as the race hotted up, making their way through the field, Crutchlow a few steps ahead of the Italian.
Having held onto the lead for a while after the start, poleman Marc Marquez dropped behind a trio of Ducatis, spending most of the race outside of podium contention but eventually becoming the last “survivor” on soft rear tyres and grabbing a comfortable third place. The championship leader played it safe (by his standards) to grab sure points in the title battle.
What happened to the red trio? Well, Andrea Dovizioso, teammate Andrea Iannone plus Scott Redding mugged Marquez off the lead early and juggled positions at the front. The world championship leader ended up facing the Suzukis and an impressive Hector Barbera as the fastest man in the Spanish mini-group that he eventually led.
With thirteen laps to go, Dovizioso lost yet another podium and even more luck as apparent tyre issues forced him to pit then retire. Iannone, Redding and Barbera were left to fight it off for the podium but the joy didn’t last long, Crutchlow catching up at an incredible rate, second with nine laps to go. Iannone and Redding suffered severe tyre degradation in the final laps, last week’s victor dropping to eighth, with Redding finishing fifteenth.
In the final three laps, Crutchlow and Rossi were away at the front but the battle for the last podium spot was hotting up. Marquez picked up Iannone and Barbera before Loris Baz came out of almost literally nowhere to do the same and land in fourth across the line. Avintia teammate Barbera finished behind him, in a great weekend for the team, with another fantastic performance from Eugene Laverty seeing him take sixth.
A Ducati duo grabbed seventh and eighth, with Danilo Petrucci leading Iannone over the line, followed by a disappointing ninth for Maverick Vinales and an encouraging tenth for Tito Rabat, the Marc VDS rider two places ahead of Dani Pedrosa.
Did I not mention the world champion yet? That’s because the less said about Jorge Lorenzo’s race, the better. The Spaniard dropped back at the start, the same as Rossi, and started to pick his way up in the second half of the race, showing good speed to advance through the field. With seven laps to go, he took the curious decision to pit and change bikes, despite protestations from his team, apparently due to tyre troubles. He quickly returned to get back on his first bike, rejoining the track last and getting lapped by the leaders.
That leaves Marquez with a bit more breathing space in the world championship once again, 53 points ahead of Rossi, the Italian sneaking ahead of his teammate by 6 points.
|17||99||Jorge LORENZO||Yamaha||1 Lap|
|4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||Ducati||7 Laps|
|38||Bradley SMITH||Yamaha||8 Laps|
|41||Aleix ESPARGARO||Suzuki||9 Laps|