Valentino Rossi edged out Marc Marquez to win the Catalunya Grand Prix as MotoGP’s two biggest rivals provided a thrilling spectacle at the end of a turbulent weekend for the sport. With the tragic loss of Luis Salom still fresh in everybody’s minds, Rossi and Marquez fought a classic battle for victory and, perhaps more significantly, appeared to settle their long-running feud with a handshake in parc ferme.
The prospect of a Valentino Rossi victory looked fairly remote on the opening lap given the change in circuit layout appearing to suit the Hondas and the Italian’s disappointing start. Rossi was relegated to eighth at turn one while Jorge Lorenzo edged ahead of polesitter Marquez but ‘The Doctor’ made rapid progress in the early laps, climbing back up to third by lap three.
Rossi’s ascent up the order continued on lap six with an outbraking manoeuvre on Marquez into turn four and surprisingly, Lorenzo offered little resistance when his teammate made his move at the start of lap seven. Recognising the threat of the no.46 Yamaha, Marquez made an immediate move on Lorenzo for second and as the world champion struggled for pace, the leading duo broke away.
A tense standoff ensued with Marquez shadowing his great rival for lap after lap before finally making his move five from home. Rossi fended off the initial attack but when Marc outdragged the Yamaha on the approach to turn one on lap 23, the pendulum appeared to have swung his way. Rossi had other ideas though and despite heavily worn tyres, the nine-time champion struck back on the penultimate lap before a mistake from Marquez at turn seven gave him enough breathing space to hold him off for victory.
Lorenzo’s afternoon never picked up after relinquishing the lead with Dani Pedrosa relieving him of third on lap nine while Maverick Vinales barged his compatriot out of the way for fourth three laps later. Jorge soon fell into the clutches of Andrea Iannone’s Ducati but a disastrous mistake by the Italian at turn ten saw him spear into the back of the no.99, taking him out of the race and ensuring the championship lead would switch hands.
With Pedrosa beating Vinales to the final podium spot, Pol Espargaro inherited fifth ahead of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso. Alvaro Bautista beat the satellite Ducati of Danilo Petrucci to take a superb eighth while Jack Miller claimed the first top ten result of his MotoGP career.
2016 Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya (Race Result)
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