Andrea Iannone won a thrilling four-way fight for victory in the Catalunya Grand Prix which saw a controversial incident between Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro in the latter stages as they chased the Italian. That benefitted Thomas Luthi who finished second to move into the championship lead.
Most expected the top three on the grid to dominate proceedings but Iannone stormed past them all in the first four corners. Toni Elias also made a terrific start from the third row and slotted in behind the Speed Master rider, with Marquez demoted from pole to third. On lap three, the CatalunyaCaixa rider repassed his fellow countryman and with Luthi and Espargaro doing the same in consecutive laps, the leading quartet eased away from the former champion.
Marquez appeared to have greater speed down the main straight and used it to take the lead on lap eight but Iannone's counter to that was sensational late-braking. Exactly a lap after seeing Marquez breeze past him, Iannone regained the advantage and Luthi, after keeping quiet in third, capitalised on the Spaniard's loss of momentum to grab second.
Just after half distance, Marquez regained second and went back into battle with Iannone. An error from 'Crazy Joe' at turn five saw him surrender the lead but yet again, his prowess on the brakes put him back in front of Marquez by the time they reached the end of the pit straight next time around.
With three laps to go, Marquez was finding Iannone a tough nut to crack with the Italian able to brake later, wherever his rival chose to slow down. As Marc considered his next move, Luthi caught him napping to snatch second at turn ten and as Marquez tried to duck underneath the Swiss, the front end of the Suter folded on him. Incredibly, he managed to stay upright but as he swept back onto the racing line, Espargaro has nowhere to go. The two title rivals made contact and Espargaro went down hard, taking him out of the race.
Marquez escaped any damage and finished third but the fight for victory was still on ahead of him. Luthi gave Iannone a taste of his own medicine at turn one at the penultimate lap but the previous order was restored next time around. Although Luthi had one final attempt at turn ten on the last lap, Iannone hung on to claim his first win of the season by 0.083s. Marquez was third but was handed a one minute penalty by the stewards after the chequered flag. The FIM disagreed with the decision and cancelled the punishment, deciding the contact with Espargaro was nothing more than a racing incident.
Esteve Rabat was briefly promoted into a podium position but ended up fourth, his cause having being helped by a crash for Toni Elias. Simone Corsi held off Takaaki Nakagami for fifth with Swiss pair Dominique Aegerter and Randy Krummenacher seventh and eighth. Mika Kallio took ninth while Marc VDS teammate Scott Redding was tenth.
Bradley Smith battled hard despite his Tech 3 machine giving away 14km/h in the speed traps, finishing a solid twelfth thanks to the late retirements. Gino Rea couldn't challenge for a points finish himself after being caught up in a first corner collision with Julian Simon and Mike Di Meglio.