Mugello had it all: Rossi’s 300th Grand Prix, rain on Friday and one of the best on-track fights in living memory thanks to Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo. This time out, they’re in Barcelona and fighting for glory on home turf.
Marquez and Lorenzo spent the second half of the Italian Grand Prix trading places on various occasions and at corners where one would not have expected a pass to take place. However, it was the same man coming out on top as Marquez made it to 150 points: maximum score for the first third of the season.
In Italy, Marquez was helped by his Repsol Honda Team mechanics as, following the morning Warm-Up, they elected to modify his ratios for a longer sixth gear and therefore more straight-line speed: something that won him the race on Sunday. In the meantime, team-mate Dani Pedrosa fought up to fourth, continuing to struggle with his arm injury and now hoping for more in Catalunya.
There were certainly stand-out performances further back. Pol Espargaro quietly slipped into the top five for the second race running while Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone’s Ducatis came home sixth and seventh. As for Aleix Espargaro, the NGM Forward Racing rider described Mugello as his ‘worst race of the year’ so far.
Others are looking for a more positive outing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. At Mugello, Bradley Smith was left annoyed by front tire choice, knowing even before sliding out of contention that his selection was wrong. Stefan Bradl was highly unfortunate, suffering two spectacular crashes (one in the Warm-Up and one in the race itself) that saw the German flying through the air, with the second occurring when he was collected by the wayward Ducati of Cal Crutchlow. As for Hector Barbera, the Avintia Racing rider was affected by gearbox problems and forced to park up; he now heads to his home event with the goal of finishing the race.
Last year in Catalunya, Dani Pedrosa set a scorching pace in qualifying as he broke Casey Stoner’s lap record from five years earlier. Surprisingly, the Sabadell-born rider has not claimed pole since. On the Sunday, it was Jorge Lorenzo who sealed the victory to mark his second in a row at the Montmelo-based venue. The World Championship now returns there for a 23rd successive year, with the first 500 race back in 1992 (then labelled the European Grand Prix) having seen that year’s World Champion Wayne Rainey beating Mick Doohan by just 57 thousandths of a second.
If Marquez wins, he would become the youngest rider (at 21 years and 118 days) to win seven consecutive races in the premier class. Should he achieve it, this is a record he would take away from Rossi, but you can be sure that the likes of Lorenzo, Pedrosa and ‘The Doctor’ himself will do everything in their power to stop the World Champion. We’ve seen some close finishes in Barcelona (2007, 2009 and the aforementioned 1992 spring to mind). Maybe another one is on the cards…
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