Lorenzo Land was shining resplendently as the premier class race got underway and the man who dominated the weekend finished it off on home soil with back-to-back wins. Jorge Lorenzo had it mostly his own way and wore down the opposition to score his sixth race win at the Catalan circuit and his 150th career podium. Marc Marquez just had to have a go at victory but his mission stalled halfway through the race and the world champion listened to his anthem from the second podium position. Valentino Rossi pulled a Rossi and excelled on Sunday, the veteran running a lonely race towards his 14th podium at the track.
Poleman Lorenzo had a decent start but Marquez did one better this time around and led the way into turn one, Andrea Iannone following suit and dropping Lorenzo into his teammate’s clutches. Rossi climbed into fifth, with Dani Pedrosa sixth, while Maverick Viñales went backwards once again, into eleventh positon, behind Danilo Petrucci, Cal Crutchlow and an impressive Bradley Smith.
Lorenzo restarted his charge soon after and got past Iannone by the end of lap one after the Italian attacked Marquez a bit too enthusiastically. The Ducati man also got past the Honda at the end of the main straight at the start and predictably attempted an escape. The reigning world champion was the lone advocate for the hard tyres amongst the leaders – who favoured the soft – closely followed by Dovizioso, with Rossi, Pedrosa and Petrucci also picking up Iannone by lap three. Smith was still hanging on behind the Italian but Crutchlow, Viñales and Johann Zarco looked hungry close behind. The British rider resisted one more lap until the trio made it past him, as did Jack Miller and Tito Rabat, but none of those three finished the race – more about that later.
Back at the front, Lorenzo had a tiny advantage but Marquez kept him within reach, while Dovizioso bided his time half a second behind, holding off Rossi. By lap five, Pedrosa – on the medium tyres – had lost over a second on the top four and was fending off Petrucci, not all that successfully. Soon after, Rossi was also starting to lose touch with the podium, giving Dovizioso a bit of a breather.
Nine laps in, Marquez was still keeping up with his future teammate, while Lorenzo’s actual teammate was dropping off slightly. It did not look too damaging until Dovizioso went down in turn five in a very damaging third DNF of the season. That promoted Rossi into the final podium position, while the two leaders were trading fastest laps. Two seconds behind Rossi, Pedrosa had a new rival in Crutchlow, who had escaped the Yamahas of Zarco and Viñales to have a go at Petrucci for fifth. A Honda battle ensued, with Pedrosa and Crutchlow swapping fourth place several times, while Petrucci was not really letting go of that bone either.
On lap 11, Marquez finally gave up the fight after seeing one of his main title rivals out of play and let one second slip between his fingers. The Spaniard had three seconds in hand on Rossi, who in turn had three seconds on the Pedrosa/Petrucci/Crutchlow shenanigans, the trio providing the entertainment at the halfway point of the race. With nine laps left, Petrucci abandoned that mission and surrendered his sixth position to the two Yamahas led by Zarco, the Frenchman running ahead of factory teammate Viñales.
Not much action followed for the next handful of laps, with the exception of Crutchlow making it stick on Pedrosa with seven laps left. And also a bit of action was Rabat being forced into retirement after his Ducati turned into a camp fire at the end of the straight. A few oil flags worried the final four laps, although Lorenzo had no problem keeping up his metronomic pace of old. Significantly lower down the grid, Viñales finally made it past Zarco and set off to make up a one second gap on Pedrosa. Other than that, riders kept not wanting to finish the race, with the likes of Franco Morbidelli and Hafizh Syahrin falling out of point positions and leaving fewer riders on track than points available.
As the riders crossed the line one final lap, Lorenzo had a casual four-second advantage, with Marquez cruising to second and Rossi in a solitary ride to third. Crutchlow came home in fourth, three seconds down the road, with Pedrosa finally finishing a race in fifth and Viñales settling for sixth. The Yamaha man had made one of his usual races of late, a shockingly poor start followed up with excellent pace in the second half of the race, finishing only a tenth of a second behind his compatriot. Zarco finished seventh, ahead of Petrucci and a welcome result for Alvaro Bautista in ninth place. Iannone completed the top ten after fading throughout the race.
The world championship leader extended his advantage at the front to 27 points, Rossi consolidating his second place ahead of teammate Viñales. The Spaniard is still third, 38 points down on his leading compatriot. Zarco climbs ahead of Petrucci in fourth, Crutchlow picking up two places in sixth. Meanwhile, Lorenzo equalled his teammate’s points and jumped ahead of him in the championship standings, in seventh position.
|14||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||Honda||3 Laps|
|55||Hafizh SYAHRIN||Yamaha||4 Laps|
|53||Tito RABAT||Ducati||6 Laps|
|43||Jack MILLER||Ducati||7 Laps|
|38||Bradley SMITH||KTM||11 Laps|
|30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||Honda||11 Laps|
|42||Alex RINS||Suzuki||13 Laps|
|4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||Ducati||16 Laps|
|10||Xavier SIMEON||Ducati||17 Laps|
|41||Aleix ESPARGARO||Aprilia||20 Laps|
|12||Thomas LUTHI||Honda||21 Laps|
|50||Sylvain GUINTOLI||Suzuki||22 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|36||Mika KALLIO||KTM||0 Lap|