MotoGP // LORENZO WINS @ CATALUNYAThe last two MotoGP rounds (Silverstone and Assen) have been runaway victories for Jorge Lorenzo. While this is fantastic for Lorenzo, it has left fans perhaps wishing for some of the drama his rivalry with Valentino Rossi provided last year. Catalunya was the venue for what was arguably 2009’s most exciting battle. If you haven’t seen it, find a way to do so. This weekend’s festivities being the fourth Valentino Rossi-less race of the season, the announcers were keen to remind viewers of last year’s glory as perhaps a means of distraction. I don’t know how many times the final turn was referred to as “The Valentino Rossi Memorial corner” as if everyone knew 2010 would never eclipse 2009... [read more]

Leading up to Sunday, all was going according to the script of the last few races. Lorenzo was on pole and dominant in all sessions except for warm-up where he was third but only 0.161s off leader Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa and Stoner, for their parts, maintained their alien status by being at the top end of the timesheets when it counted. It was, however, Randy DePuniet who again upset conventional wisdom by landing his satellite LCR Honda on the front row for the third week in a row. It’s worth noting that DePuniet actually led a good chunk of qualifying practice.

MotoGP // LORENZO WINS @ CATALUNYAAt the start of the race, Pedrosa got one of his trademark starts, catapulting him from the second row to first place immediately with Lorenzo close behind, his own starts having improved lately. Unfortunately for Pedrosa, as he later explained, his brakes failed him going into turn one. He managed to pump them in time to avoid running straight into the wall and was able to rejoin the race, albeit in tenth place. From here the leading pack consisted of Jorge Lorenzo followed by Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Randy DePuniet, they quickly dropped the other riders. By the middle of lap two, Dani Pedrosa had managed to work his way back to fifth and was looking to close down on DePuniet. Then as lap three got underway, Dovizioso managed to out-brake Lorenzo into turn one and take the lead. A lap and a half later Lorenzo took it back and Pedrosa soon after got past DePuniet.

At the start of lap five, it was Stoner’s turn to run wide. He lost fewer places than Pedrosa did but he was still punted back to fifth. It only took Stoner a lap or two to get back past DePuniet and he set his sights on Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Dovizioso having pulled away. These latter two seemed to be locked in what was hopefully becoming a real protracted battle but, alas, with just over ten laps to go, Dovizioso lost the front going into turn ten, leaving Lorenzo to skate to another distant first place. Pedrosa and Stoner were left to provide the spectacle, though they were close, Stoner could never quite get the run to really make Dani too nervous. Randy DePuniet rode home to a season’s best and lonely fourth place. He had chosen a harder rear tire, which likely prevented him sliding around too much at the end at the expense of challenging in the early stages of the race. The top ten was rounded out by Alvaro Bautista, Ben Spies, Loris Capirossi, Nicky Hayden, Marco Melandri and Hector Barbera.

MotoGP // LORENZO WINS @ CATALUNYAAside from the obvious reinforcement of Lorenzo’s juggernaut status, Catalunya may have underscored Dorna’s need to get Rossi back into action as soon as possible. Despite the fact that there was a little more battle here than the past two outings, the contrast to last year’s Catalunya was still there. Rossi may be the only person in the series right now capable of challenging Lorenzo consistently. Let’s hope rumors of his return at the Sachsenring are true (most selfishly because I will be at Laguna Seca one week later).

Also very worth mention is Suzuki’s fifth and seventh places after what can only be termed a disappointing start to the season. Let’s hope it inspires the factory to start dumping a little more money into their MotoGP program. It should also be noted that Ben Spies continues to place highest of all the rookies, in races he has not crashed out of at least. If you consider that he has placed on or close to the podium at tracks where he has prior experience (Assen) or that nobody has been to (Silverstone) he would seem to be living up to his promise as the next real threat from America. Doubly so if he moves up to the factory Yamaha next year if all this gossip about Rossi defecting to Ducati comes true.

Photo(s): MotoGP
Editorial: Jeff Winterberg

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