With the early morning Spanish sun making me very envious, the ideal stage was set for 4 hours of great motorcycle racing in the outskirts of Barcelona.
After a somewhat silly qualifying session, where every rider was crawling around on their out laps trying to get behind the other to get a tow for their fast lap, it was Enea Bastianini who took his first career pole, continuing his great pace throughout the weekend to finish 0.144 seconds ahead of Danny Kent. Jorge Navarro completed the front row, following on from his impressive display in Mugello, while race winner Miguel Oliveira could only qualify fifth. Maria Herrera followed up on her good practice pace by qualifying in 14th with a lot of big names behind her, including Brad Binder, Jakub Kornfeil and Alexis Masbou.
A good start by Navarro saw him take the early lead, with Efren Vasquez making a charge through to third. Miguel Oliveira would be ahead by turn two though, with Kent down in fifth. John McPhee made a good charge through the field too, while Jakub Kornfeil was an early casualty, along with Gabriel Rodrigo and Stefano Manzi.
Bastianini would return to the front by turn one of lap two, with Niccolo Antonelli taking over two turns later. Kent settled into fifth while Vasquez dropped down behind him. McPhee had a moment off-camera and was back down to 21st. Brad Binder recovered from his poor grid position to reach seventh by the end of lap two. Herrera sat 18th, keeping many bigger names honest.
Oliveira and Bastianini swapped the lead several times. Kent and Antonelli swapped fourth and fifth. The only constant was Navarro in third. Come the start of lap three, Kent hit the front, making the most of a slipstream and opening up a typical early Kent advantage. Vasquez unintentionally held up the others behind him in second, with the following seven almost uniform behind him. Vasquez got a good tow at the end of the lap, pushing ahead and bringing Antonelli with him. Kent would return the favour on the next lap, this time bringing Oliveira with him to take the lead. Hiroki Ono fell a few laps later at turn 10, worrying the BT commentators seeing a Leopard bike fall fearing it was Kent.
The group became six, as Binder and Philipp Oettl fell away from the group. Kent started to open up an advantage again, getting enough distance between himself and Bastianini to avoid being slipstreamed. McPhee compounded a poor race by crashing out. Isaac Viñales finally came to play, up to seventh after starting 20th. The next lap, Antonelli and Bastianini both went past Kent on the home straight, with Kent dropping down to fifth. Vasquez looked interested again, and Oliveira was keeping everyone honest. Meanwhile, Herrera moved up into the last points scoring place, looking very impressive with some great pace. Juanfran Guevara crashed out of that group.
Kent hit the front again with seven laps remaining, following his team mate Vasquez through from fourth. Again though, slipstreams into turn one saw different leaders for the next four laps. Oliveira looked the best of the lot, fighting to keep his place, but the bikes were all as fast as each other. Flip a coin, folks.
Last lap. Antonelli hit the front, Kent went round the outside of Bastianini to take second, then taking the lead three corners later. Bastianini came up to second, with Vasquez on the back of Antonelli, taking third soon afer. Oliveira didn't have the pace to keep up. Kent and Bastianini fought close into the last turn, the Brit just holding off Bastianini for the win. Vasquez held onto third, with Antonelli just behind in fourth. Viñales finished a very respectable seventh, and Herrera picked up her first point of the season by coming 15th.
|1||Danny Kent||Leopard Honda||40:59.419||25|
|2||Enea Bastianini||Honda Gresini||+0.035||20|
|3||Efren Vasquez||Leopard Honda||+0.600||16|
|5||Miguel Oliveira||Red Bull KTM||+0.827||11|
|6||Jorge Navarro||Estrella Galicia||+0.913||10|
|8||Romano Fenati||Sky VR46 KTM||+8.917||8|
|9||Brad Binder||Red Bull KTM||+11.068||7|
|10||Philipp Oettl||Schedl GP||+14.968||6|
|11||Jorge Martin||Mapfre Mahindra||+16.596||5|
|12||Andrea Locatelli||Honda Gresini||+17.340||4|
|13||Niklas Ajo||RBA Racing||+19.086||3|
|14||Fabio Quartararo||Estrella Galicia||+19.320||2|
Kent can now take two races off, if he so wished, with a giant 51 point lead after just seven rounds, becoming the first Brit since Barry Sheene to win four GP in a season - the records just keep coming for him. Bastianini cements his second place, while Oliveira and Vasquez leapfrog Fenati after their good performances. Honestly though, what can you say about Kent? He didn't have his best race by any stretch of the imagination, but he picked his spot and took the win. There's a lot of the Rossis about the young man.
|Moto3 Championship Top 5|
|1||Danny Kent||Leopard Honda||149||25|
|2||Enea Bastianini||Gresini Honda||98||20|
|3||Miguel Oliveira||Red Bull KTM||77||11|
|4||Efren Vasquez||Leopard Honda||76||16|
|5||Romano Fenati||Sky VR46||75||8|
Johann Zarco was dominant in qualifying, putting hot lap after hot lap in to claim pole. Jonas Folger started second, while Tito Rabat's practice pace only equated to third on the grid. Dominique Aegerter started fourth ahead of Sam Lowes, who couldn't put four consistent sections together to put a pole lap in. He did, however, have an incredible slide. He lost the front, then the back, and the whole thing sat up and carried on. It was a great save, and could have been horrific.
Zarco made a good start, but Rabat made a better one to take the lead. Lowes followed them through to take second, Folger was forced wide at turn one, and Aegerter was up to third early on, while Sandro Cortese, Axel Pons and Xavier Simeon were early casualties. Alex Rins was up to fourth, while Zarco had to settle for fifth early on, Thomas Luthi following in sixth. Lowes hit the lead on lap three, looking absolutely blistering at the front.
Rins moved up to third on lap four, nipping past Aegerter, while his team mate Luis Salom did the same to Zarco, taking fifth, while at the start of the next lap, Rabat used the slipstream down the home straight to retake the lead. Franco Morbidelli was up to eighth, moving up 15 places from his 23rd on the grid. The next lap, Rins took second from Lowes, then instantly battling with Rabat for the lead. Aegerter started to fall back, being taken by Salom and Zarco. The front two seemed to have the beating of Lowes, who was very comfortably settled in third. Zarco then moved past Salom for fourth.
The front three still looked comfortable in front, with all three of them inching away from Zarco. Ratthapark Wilarot, on his return to Moto2 after losing his World Supersport ride, crashed out with 13 laps to go. Rins was having a look at Rabat, but not getting too close to taking the lead until lap 11, moving to the front after being given a bit too much room by Rabat. Zarco finally started to make some inroads on the leading group, as Lowes closed up to Rabat as well. He couldn't get past him though, and Zarco took advantage to take third, at the same time as Rabat reclaimed the lead from Rins.
With eight laps remaining, the gap between Rins in second and Zarco in third was closing, with Zarco joining the party. Luthi moved past Salom into fifth, while Alex Marquez recovered from a poor start to sit in 11th. Rabat and Rins still looked comfortable at the front though. Salom reclaimed fifth from Luthi, giving Lowes a breather in fourth. Folger, down in ninth, wasn't having an easy ride after his early mistake.
With two laps left, Rins ran wide, allowing Zarco to move into second. He was soon on Rabat, but the defending champion looked assured in front. Zarco didn't have the grunt to get past at the start of the last lap, but outbreaked Rabat at turn five to absolute mug Rabat. Rabat fought too hard to push back, running wide and allowing Rins to move back into second. Zarco took the win, with Rins second and Rabat third. Lowes was comfortable in fourth. Salom beat Luthi to fifth, Folger pipped Morbidelli for seventh, while Marquez just missed out on the top ten.
|2||Alex Rins||Paginas Amarillas HP40||+0.308||20|
|3||Tito Rabat||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||+5.280||16|
|4||Sam Lowes||Speed Up||+5.554||13|
|5||Luis Salom||Paginas Amarillas HP40||+7.493||11|
|10||Lorenzo Baldassarri||Athina Forward||+18.836||6|
|11||Alex Marquez||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||+20.698||5|
|13||Simone Corsi||Athina Forward||+22.433||3|
|14||Hafizh Syahrin||Petronas Raceline||+22.762||2|
Just Zarco's second win of the season, but his consistency sees him extend his championship lead to 40 points from Rabat. Lowes leapfrogs Luthi to third, continuing his impressive season, while Rins's best result since Argentina in round three has him return to the top five.
|Moto2 Championship Top 5|
|2||Tito Rabat||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||94||16|
|3||Sam Lowes||Speed Up||80||13|
|5||Alex Rins||Paginas Amarillas HP40||74||20|
Now, I don't want you to get too excited, but Friday and Saturday belonged to Suzuki. Aleix Espargaro led the timesheets on Friday, Maverick Viñales was fastest in FP3, and both Suzukis were one and two on the grid, Espargaro ahead of his team mate. They were joined on the front row by Jorge Lorenzo, continuing his blistering form by being the best of the rest. Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa - who had to get through Q1 after poor practice pace - were split on row two by the Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso.
Valentino Rossi started from his favourite place of seventh, joined on row three by Bradley Smith and Cal Crutchlow - Crutchlow should have qualified higher, but after setting three fastest sections on his last lap in Q2, dropped the bike and ruined his lap. Karel Abraham didn't set a time after dislocating a toe in FP4, and missed the race.
A good start from Espargaro, but the Suzukis were swamped quickly, as Lorenzo hit the front by turn one. Dovizioso took second ahead of Marquez, with Pol Espargaro and Smith in fifth and seventh, split by Rossi. Cal Crutchlow was shoved off his bike early on lap one, caught out by the pushing of the pack. Marquez was soon up to second and onto the back of Lorenzo, while Rossi cut under Pol Espargaro, with his brother Aleix making light work of Yonny Hernandez and Smith.
Marquez was hot on the back of Lorenzo - too hot going into turn ten of lap three, wobbling trying to keep the bike on tarmac, then tumbling into the gravel trap. All his own fault, and symptomatic of his year. Taking advantage, Rossi moved up into second, dispatching Dovizioso. Pol starting going backwards, then dropped the front end. Aleix moved up to fourth, while Pedrosa went past Smith to fifth. Scott Redding made good headway into eighth, and Dovizioso too hit the gravel - the hard tyre not reacting well to the hot track.
Pedrosa's far superior pace on the Honda saw him take third from the Suzuki of Espargaro, as Rossi and Lorenzo stretched away in front - Lorenzo comfortably ahead of his team mate. Smith was closing in on Espargaro, while keeping comfortably ahead of Andrea Iannone, who in turn was battling to keep sixth with Redding. Hector Barbera came into the pits with a front break issue, but returned to the race, albeit last.
To be honest, the race turned much into a procession. Lorenzo did as Lorenzo does, gapping Rossi and keeping a comfortable 1.7 second lead. Espargaro was keeping Pedrosa honest, while Smith was easily fending off Iannone. Redding was looking comfortable and assured in seventh, while Viñales wasn't being left behind in eighth. Stefan Bradl was top of the open class bikes, having a good battle with Danilo Petrucci for ninth. Nicky Hayden crashed with 11 laps left.
Viñales closed the gap to Redding, making a move on him at turn one with nine laps left, making both run wide into the corner and both cutting turn two. Viñales would make the move stick though, and settle into seventh. Iannone took fifth from Smith on the next lap, using a bit more grunt than the satellite Yamaha to make the move. Rossi was taking small chunks out of Lorenzo's lead, but the Spaniard still looked comfortable in front - albeit the gap closing to 1.3 seconds.
With five laps to go, Espargaro crashed out from fourth at turn five, losing the front end - not what his great showing deserved this weekend. With it, Iannone moved up fo fourth and Smith went to fifth again. Rossi was only making small inroads on the lead, but with a gap of 1.2 seconds with three laps left, surely Lorenzo had it covered?
He did. Rossi got the gap down to one second, but couldn't get any closer. Pedrosa finished a lonely third, with Iannone well back in fourth - followed by Smith in fifth. Viñales finished a very respectable sixth, and a superb ride from Scott Redding in seventh. Stefan Bradl was a superb eighth as the top open class rider, and Alvaro Bautista brought the Aprilia home to tenth. Hector Barbera was the only non-points-scoring finisher, his 16th being the last bike home.
|1||Jorge Lorenzo||Movistar Yamaha||42:53.208||25|
|2||Valentino Rossi||Movistar Yamaha||+0.885||20|
|3||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||+19.455||16|
|5||Bradley Smith||Tech 3 Yamaha||+27.782||11|
|6||Maverick Viñales||Suzuki Ecstar||+29.559||10|
|7||Scott Redding||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||+36.424||9|
|8||Stefan Bradl||Athina Forward||+42.103||8|
|9||Danilo Petrucci||Pramac Ducati||+49.350||7|
|10||Alvaro Bautista||Aprilia Gresini||+52.569||6|
|11||Jack Miller||CWM LCR Honda||+53.666||5|
|12||Eugene Laverty||Aspar Honda||+55.765||4|
|13||Loris Baz||Athina Forward||+55.832||3|
|14||Mike Di Meglio||Avintia||+1:09.037||2|
|15||Alex De Angelis||E-Motion IodaRacing||+1:25.263||1|
Lorenzo's fourth win in a row - the first time he's done it in his hugely successful career - puts him one point behind Rossi - we've got a proper fight on our hands this year kids. Iannone jumps his team mate Dovizioso into third, after Dovi's second DNF in a row, while Marc Marquez's third retirement of the year means he is just a solitary point ahead of the satellite Yamaha of Bradley Smith in fifth. At least Dani Pedrosa has an excuse - he missed races. Honda will not be happy.
|MotoGP Championship Top 5|
|1||Valentino Rossi||Movistar Yamaha||138||20|
|2||Jorge Lorenzo||Movistar Yamaha||137||25|
|5||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda||69||0|
Ride Of The Day
Danny Kent didn't have his greatest ride today, and at times didn't look to have the pace to get the job done, but pulled out the important moves at the right time and looked every part the world champion. Jorge Lorenzo again was superb in leading from flag to flag. He has led every lap of the last four races and looks untouchable at the minute. However, ride of the day goes to Johann Zarco today. He was barged out of first on the first corner, but managed both tyres and pressure very well to make the most of errors from those in front, and proving his class by jumping ahead on the last lap. Great work from the Frenchman.
Next Time Out
My favourite race of the season, the show travels to Assen in the Netherlands. Don't get caught out - race day is Saturday 27th June. We'll keep you in touch.