“For sure it feels great to be back here since Silverstone,” said Rins, speaking just after teammate Mir in the Press Conference. “I’m so happy for this, as everybody knows in the first race I dislocated my shoulder and after Jerez, in Brno, I was thinking ‘ok, I feel 100%’ because I didn’t feel pain on the bone. So for my body and my mind it was difficult to understand because in the end in the Free Practices, after four or five laps I couldn’t ride faster.
Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was lightning off the line and grabbed the holeshot with ease as Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) propelled himself into P2 from P4 on the grid, with Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Quartararo dropping places before huge, Championship defining drama unfolded at Turn 2. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) almost went down just in front of Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) as the riders piled through Turns 1 and 2, Petux clipping Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). Reacting, Zarco then tucked the front of his Ducati after grabbing too much front brake but there was no saving it and on the outside of the Frenchman, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was taken out. The Championship leader and Zarco were down and out of the Catalan GP at Turn 2 – both ok, but disastrous for Dovizioso for the title.
Lowes was again aggressive, into Turn 4 this time, a lap later as he lunged past Bezzecchi but he couldn’t get the bike stopped, ran wide and allowed the afro-haired Italian back through. However, with the leading trio continuing to stretch their advantage, the Briton would then get the job done moments later to take fourth place away from the Italian. The fastest lap of the race went the way of the former MotoGP™ rider as he started to find his rhythm and began to close in on the three men ahead of him. It didn’t take long for the six-wheeler at the front to become an eight-wheeler, as Lowes caught and then passed Navarro in one foul swoop for third.
With two to go, Foggia was looking very strong at the front. Masia had dropped to fifth after Binder made a move stick on the Spaniard at Turn 4 before Masia got his Honda crossed up into the Turn 4 braking zone. Masia just about kept it on the asphalt but that was his podium hopes gone. Foggia led over the line on the last lap and, crucially, led into Turn 1. The first passing opportunity had been and gone for second place Binder, but opportunity knocked at Turn 5 for the KTM rider and Binder was up the inside of Foggia. A clean, slick move from Binder saw him take the lead as Foggia lost two places in one corner, Arbolino slicing up the inside of his compatriot to chase Binder. Turn 10 then reared its head – who was last of the late brakers? We’ve seen drama there in recent times, but Binder was solid and held P1. Then, unless Arbolino could channel his inner Valentino Rossi, the race was pretty much done. Binder was fast through the final sector and Arbolino thought about a final corner move, but there was no way through. Binder strolled across the line to take a memorable first Grand Prix victory on the circuit he picked up his first Grand Prix points on. Brilliant Binder proved unbeatable in Barcelona.
Quartararo’s crash occurred as the Frenchman saved a front-end moment as he tipped it into Turn 4. The 21-year-old ran into the gravel and eventually had to lay the bike down, but Quartararo was ok and won’t be fazed ahead of a vital Barcelona showdown. Polesitter Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) claimed P4 in Warm Up, 0.334 off his teammate’s pace, with the injured Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) completing the top five.
Drama unfolded for Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) on Sunday morning, his machine burst into flames as the Spaniard headed into Turn 10 in the latter stages of Warm Up, a scary incident that thankfully saw Fernandez escape injury. Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team Moto3) was fourth with Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) fifth, the German crashing unhurt at Turn 10.
Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) topped Moto3™ Warm Up at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya with a 1:49.715 – just 0.001 ahead of Championship leader Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3). Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) completed the top three on Sunday morning, the Argentinian just 0.044 off top spot.
Rossi set six 1:40s in his first stint in FP4 on the soft-soft compounds, one that included two 1:40.3s, one 1:40.7, two 1:40.8s and a 1:40.9 at the start. After pitting and coming out on a fresh rear medium tyre, keeping his 14-lap old front soft in, The Doctor was immediately setting mid 1:40s before setting a couple of low 1:41s at the end of the session. The last time Rossi was on the front row in Barcelona, he won – will history repeat itself? Judging by the timesheets, the nine-time World Champion is definitely in the mix.
2. With Morbidelli here and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) at the Austrian GP, this is the first time there are at least two maiden polesitters in a single MotoGP™ season since 2017, when Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) achieved their first premier class poles.