Round Seven – Catalunya MotoGP
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took an impressive win in the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya on an expensive day for his key Championship rivals, with a dramatic multiple-rider crash near the start of the race creating some serious chaos.
Marquez escaped that and in the aftermath it was Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) who emerged as his closest challenger, with the polesitter and French rookie cutting down the gap in the latter laps as he seared away from those on the chase.
His second place makes him the second-youngest podium finisher in the MotoGP era, behind only Marquez, and he managed to pull two seconds clear of Mugello winner Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) to do it.
Marc Marquez – P1
“I chose the soft rear to try and push in the beginning and to try to not overheat the tyre but to try to be constant and fast. All of the Repsol Honda Team did a really good job this weekend; we worked hard and prepared well for the race. The team told me something had happened to Dovi, so I just kept pushing and focusing on my own race. We had the perfect strategy regardless and I want to thank all the fans who came out. Gracias! It’s always special when you can celebrate winning together with your brother, Alex rode well this weekend!”
Fabio Quartararo – P2
“I’m very happy with what we’ve achieved today especially as it was a very hard race. We made our best start this year, since I only dropped two positions. Then I made a mistake at Turn 4, losing another four positions, and I was a little further back! Nevertheless, I found myself in the fight for the podium and a few laps from the end I managed to get into second and push. Thanks to adrenalin of fighting for the podium – and the medicine – my arm didn’t trouble me so much in the race. In the final laps my arm started to hurt a lot, but the reward of being on the podium is much greater than that. Twelve days ago I was undergoing an operation, and now I’m on the podium. Since the European races have begun, we have been very fast; this weekend the worst result in a session was second. The pace we have is very good, but we have to continue working as we have done so far. I want to thank the team for the opportunity they have given me and all the work they do. I am very happy to have achieved the first podium for Petronas Yamaha SRT.”
Danilo Petrucci – P3
“I’m very happy with this podium. For sure, without the incident during the second lap it would have been harder to seize this result and I’m very sorry for Andrea, who lost a great chance to shine today. I tried to stay with Márquez but it wasn’t possible, and Rins and Quartararo were also very fast. With Alex, we passed each other many times and once he even hit me on the right side but I was able to reclaim the position quite quickly. Then, when Fabio passed me, I just tried to stay with him and pull away from the pack. We scored the best possible result today. After three podiums in a row, we’re close to third position in the championship: we need to keep the momentum going at Assen.”
Catalunya MotoGP Race Report
It was Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) who took the holeshot with another stunning start, this time from the second row, with Marquez pushed back into second and Quartararo then trying to send it around the outside of the reigning Champion.
But Quartararo couldn’t quite make that stick and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) capitalised to sweep through soon after.
The number 12 then attacked Marquez to take over in second, with Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) making some serious ground up into fourth to fight for the podium.
Marquez hit back against Viñales on Lap 2 and it was shaping up to be a serious fight at the front, but that’s when the drama hit. Lorenzo went to attack Viñales just as Marquez attacked Dovizioso, and Lorenzo then lost the front as the space ahead diminished.
That set off a huge incident as Lorenzo’s Repsol Honda took down Dovizioso, then Viñales, and then Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) got caught up the incident also. All four men were out of the race!
Jorge Lorenzo – DNF
“You don’t have any options if you brake a little bit too late here, like happened with me. It was my fault, my mistake and I apologise. It was really unfortunate to take out Dovi, Maverick and Valentino – it wasn’t their fault obviously, it was mine. The only thing that matters today is the crash, I took out three riders unfortunately but if we think aside from this it was a weekend where we were able to make a step forward and I was consistent throughout.”
Marquez was clear of it, with Petrucci the man left in second, escaping the drama after having been passed by Rossi at the best time for one of them and the worst for the other.
Marquez was then able to pull the pin and extend the gap but the fight behind was on fire: Petrucci vs Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) vs Quartararo.
First it was a duel behind the Italian before Rins then started looking for a way past Petrucci, attacking into Turn 1 and the Ducati defending to perfection in Turn 2. A couple of laps later it was a Rins and repeat, but the Suzuki man couldn’t make it stick.
Rins kept trying, but the next attempt was more costly. Running on and left heading over the Long Lap Penalty after dropping anchor to avoid Petrucci in Turn 1, Rins lost out and rejoined in sixth, behind his rookie teammate Joan Mir. That left him fighting to try and get back through, and left Quartararo with only one man in between himself and Marquez’ trail.
It didn’t take long; the Frenchman sliding up the inside of the Ducati to take over in second soon after. And then, he was in the same position as his fateful race in Jerez and wishing for more luck. Barcelona brought just that, with the number 20 then able to unleash his pace and push on after Marquez, immediately starting to cut the gap.
In the end, there weren’t enough laps left for a charge at the win, but Quartararo made a little history regardless and a first rostrum finish is good payback for his incredible pace so far. Petrucci was around two seconds behind him but scored big for Ducati once again, with Rins taking fourth after managing to pass first Mir and then Jack Miller (Pramac Racing).
Miller was only two-tenths behind him over the line, however, and the Australian’s P5 puts him back in the lead of the Independent Team standings.
Behind them? Another small gap back to Joan Mir, who took sixth and his best rookie result yet, two better than his season opening P8 in Qatar.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) continues his consistency in seventh and took more solid points, ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) took P9 and his best of 2019 so far, as Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) did the same and completed the top ten.
Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Suzuki test rider Sylvain Guintoli (Team Suzuki Ecstar) were the remaining finishers in a serious race of attrition, with fallers outside the huge incident near the start including Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Francesco Bagnaia) and Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team), who made contact with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) on Lap 1 and both crashed out.
It was a near-perfect day for Marquez’ Championship hopes in Montmelo, and the reigning Champion heads into the next race with a serious buffer of 37 points at the top of the table. Dovizioso remains second, Rins in third.
Next up it’s the Dutch TT, and that’s the perfect place for Yamaha, especially, to strike back as they showed throughout the weekend at Catalunya that they are on the pace.