KTM, meanwhile, field local hero Mika Kallio as he gets a first taste of his new home track, with the high calibre line-up completed by Bradley Smith testing for Aprilia, fresh from making a little history as a podium in the opening race for the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup means he’s now taken rostrum finishes in every single class he’s raced in from the 125 World Championship through Moto2™, MotoGP™ and now MotoE™.
It was, and although the gap fluctuated by a tenth here and there, the race was set as a duel to the line. Coming onto the final lap, Seabright had spent half the race tagged onto the back of Horsman, so the plan seemed clear: leave it late. The move came at Brundle and the number 22 was then pushing to defend, and he managed to stay ahead into the final corner – but that’s when disaster hit. On the exit the number 22 suffered a dramatic highside right in his rival’s path, with Horsman taking to the grass to avoid and left heading towards the line alone.
Horsman was back in a lonely second place by then, and Ogden had moved through to lead the second group on the chase, gaining 16 places in only a couple of laps. With Seabright seemingly uncatchable, the fight for the podium was heating up as Scott Swann kept Ogden honest despite the number 4’s rapid trajectory through the pack. The two got a little close for comfort on Lap 4 but there was no harm done, and a couple of laps later they’d managed to reel in Horsman, joined by Jack Nixon.
Using the same Ducati GP19 as factory runners Dovizioso and Petrucci, the one-time MotoGP race winner has regularly challenged his stable-mates. The highlight came at Austin, where Miller scored his first premier class podium in dry conditions, his second overall coming just under three years after the first. But more impressive were his performances at Mugello and the Circuit of Catalunya, where he had struggled badly in previous years. The Australian was fighting for the win in Italy before crashing out with eight laps remaining, while the Catalan GP saw him finish fifth.
But why does Pol think Barcelona and Catalunya in general produce some of the sport’s top talent? “I think it’s the culture that’s not just in Barcelona but in Catalunya, I mean when I started riding bikes, there were small promotional cups where hundreds of children were riding bikes, and this is the only way. For sure, these hundreds of children haven’t made it to MotoGP but we see Rins, Maverick, the Marquez brothers, a lot of people that are here racing today – they all started in those categories which were supported by major companies in the region.”
At the Barcelona GP there were 10 MotoGP race winners lining up on the grid. The previous occasion that 10 premier-class race winners lined up on the grid was Valencia 2009: Pedrosa, Rossi, Lorenzo, Hayden, Elias, Dovizioso, Capirossi, Vermeulen, Melandri and Stoner who didn’t start after crashing on the warm-up lap. All 10 riders started previous race at Sepang.
Behind the top three in the standings, meanwhile, it’s a tight fight for fourth with five riders within 12 points. Jack Nixon is P4 after a podium last time out, with Irishman Rhys Irwin just two off him with 62 points. Scotsman Jack Hart is next up, five behind Irwin, but Brian Hart in seventh is only a single point off his namesake. Scott Swann then lurks in eighth on 52 points, and all five riders have had a podium finish this year, minus Irwin. Brian Hart was also on the podium at Snetterton last season…
Iannone suffered similar teething issues upon moving to Suzuki two years before. Then he was often a spiky presence, unwilling to communicate to the press and struggling in his role as team leader. By contrast, this year has seen a cooler Iannone, who hails from Vasco on the east coast of Italy, maintain calm, even in the face of frustrating mechanical issues like that suffered in qualifying at the Circuit of Barcelona.
But the 20-year has exceeded even the wildest expectations, scoring podiums at the Circuit of Barcelona and Assen, as well as three remarkable pole positions. The first of those in Jerez meant, at 20 years and 14 days old, he took Marc Marquez’s record for MotoGP’s youngest ever pole sitter. And who knows, after sensational showings throughout free practice, where he would have placed had he not stalled his bike on the grid for Qatar’s season opener? It was there where he set the race’s fastest lap in his MotoGP debut.
Everything was decided on the last lap. Alcoba, in second, tried to pass Kunii at the entrance of the chicane that gives access to the long back straight of the MotorLand Aragón circuit. His action slowed down the leading group and Artigas took advantage to take first position. His rivals fought hard to pass him but the Leopard Impala Junior Team rider hung on to achieve his first victory of the season, followed across the line by Alcoba and Pizzoli. Kunii, despite having led for a large part of the race, didn?t make the podium. Artigas received the Repsol free fuel cheque as the winner of the race. Alcoba continues as leader of the FIM Moto3™ JWCh with 118 points against the 100 of Baltus and 94 of Artigas, with Kunii in fourth on 83 points.