Misano 2010 Shoya Tomizawa
Sepang 2011 Marco Simoncelli
Catalunya 2016 Luis Salom

Montmelo has now had its name added to the list of circuits which have claimed the life of a rider during the current decade in MotoGP. The finger-pointing and recriminations commenced immediately in an effort to pin blame for the Friday death of Luis Salom on something or someone. My own sense is that the state of the Spanish economy over the past decade has led to “austerity measures” on the part of track owners unable, or unwilling, to invest in improvements – in this case, a gravel trap – that could save lives.

Which is the story of EU capitalism in a nutshell – a system in which myopic short term policies lead to lasting iniquity. On a macro scale, the deconstruction of the Greek economy taking place before our very eyes, enforced by the EU with Germany, of all countries, cracking the whip, will inevitably lead to lasting hardship for the vast majority of her citizens. On a micro scale, deferred investments in safety measures at a Spanish racing venue directly result in another bright young life being snuffed out.

Marquez loses battle, winning the war

The revised track layout seemed to benefit the Hondas, with Marc Marquez taking pole position and Dani Pedrosa earning his first front-row start of the season.

The modified layout of the Circuit Catalunya brought about by Friday’s tragedy arguably converted Montmelo from being highly Yamaha friendly to Honda friendly, with both Repsol Hondas qualifying on the front row, Dani Pedrosa for the first time this season. Marc Marquez owned Q2, laying down a 1:43.9 on his first series and a 1:43.5 on his second, half a second clear of Jorge Lorenzo in the two slot. Valentino Rossi saved himself for Sunday by leaping from ninth place to fifth on his last lap. The surprise of the afternoon was Hectic Hector Barbera placing his Avintia Ducati at the top of the second row, missing out on a front row start by 15/1000ths of a second. With the notable exception of Rossi, Spaniards hogged the front two rows.

Rossi was the fastest rider in the morning warm-up, delivering a preview of the day’s events. The race itself started normally enough, with Lorenzo winning the holeshot, the lead group forming up behind him consisting of Marquez, Andrea Iannone on the Ducati, Pedrosa and Suzuki hotshot Maverick Vinales, with Rossi getting lost in the sauce on his way to eighth position. By Lap 2, Rossi had sliced his way back to fourth, the four Aliens at the front trailed by a slavering Vinales who immediately began putting ragged moves on everyone he found in his way.

Valentino Rossi had to work his way through several riders to get to the front.

Rossi went through on Pedrosa on Lap 3 as I was noting “Lorenzo getting away?” In what appeared to be a budding replay of last year, Marquez was overriding the RC213V on Laps 4 and 5, trying to keep the Mallorcan from disappearing, while Rossi, now flying, morphed the front two into a front three. On Lap 6, Rossi passed Marquez easily and immediately set his sights on Lorenzo, who by that point was definitely NOT getting away.

On Lap 7, as first Rossi, then Marquez, went through on Lorenzo, it became apparent that Lorenzo was unable to maintain his speed in the turns, his edge grip apparently shot to hell. Pedrosa went through him on Lap 9. Vinales, having eaten his Wheaties that morning, started attacking Lorenzo relentlessly on Lap 10, almost as if he intended to usurp Lorenzo’s ride next season, as is the case. Vinales stole Lorenzo’s lunch money today on Lap 12 after half a dozen failed attempts. And while Rossi held the lead at this point, there was nothing comfortable about it, as Marquez refused to wilt despite losing ground coming out of all the slow turns.

Iannone Becomes a Verb

Nothing much changed at the front, then, until Lap 17, at which point Lorenzo was struggling to hold on to 5th place with Iannone threatening. Somewhere in the middle of the circuit, possibly Turn 7, a routine left hander, Lorenzo was in the apex of the turn when Iannone, heading straight for him, running hot as an acetylene torch, slammed on his brakes, his rear tire leaving the ground, but not in time to avoid T-boning the triple world champion.

IANNOOOOOONNNNNE!

With his day now completely ruined and his lead in the 2016 championship but a memory, Lorenzo gained something new in common with next year’s Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso: He had been Iannone’d by a rider likely to be giving Suzuki major second thoughts heading into a new two-year contract with a painfully low racing IQ. While Iannone’s takedown of teammate Dovizioso at Le Mans was the result of poor judgment, today’s wreck appeared to involve no judgment at all. Race Direction, which really knows how to hurt a guy, is likely to punish the jugheaded Italian with a point or two on his license, the equivalent of being ticketed for littering after drunkenly causing a four car pileup on an expressway. Two points on your racing license is a hangnail; getting knocked out of a race while leading the championship is something closer to a disaster.

Another Montmelo Classic at the End

Marc Marquez had his chances at victory, but he made a few mistakes trying to chase down Valentino Rossi near the end of the race and settled for the 20 points that come with the runner-up position.

Marquez was in hot pursuit of Rossi, riding on the limit, when his pit board flashed the “Lorenzo KO” sign at him on Lap 19. His immediate reaction was to not react. He stayed on Rossi’s rear tire, backing into turns, losing ground on the exits, testing Rossi’s resolve once and again until Lap 23, when he went through and made it stick, leaving pretty much everyone watching the race gasping for air. But Rossi, somehow still at the top of his game in 2016, took the lead back the next time around. When Marquez suffered yet another “moment” in Turn 7 of Lap 24, he finally appeared to capisce his pit board’s message and let Rossi get away, knowing he had taken the lead in the 2016 campaign. With a world class competitive spirit, Marquez has now gained the perspective he lacked early in his premier class career and understands that 20 points in the hand is better than 25 points a second and a half in front of you.

The Big Picture Refocused

Catalunya didn’t go as planned for Jorge Lorenzo. There’s still plenty of racing to go before it’s all decided though.

The disruption in the 2016 standings brought about by Rossi’s blown engine in Mugello has now been largely corrected, thanks to Rossi’s rock-hard performance and Iannone’s rock-hard cranium. Montmelo has bestowed her not inconsiderable charms on young Marquez, who retakes the championship lead for the first time since Jerez, with Lorenzo now 10 points behind him and Rossi another 12 behind Lorenzo. Pedrosa, who podiumed today for, like, the thousandth time in his career, continues to maintain a faint grip on his ragged Alien club card, with 43 points standing between him and Marquez. The series now takes a bit of a breather before heading to The Low Countries at the end of June for the first Dutch TT Assen in history not to be run on a Saturday.

I don’t want to talk about the controversy which blew up Saturday night about who attended the Safety Commission meeting on Friday evening and who didn’t, about who might have shot off their mouths criticizing the decisions pertaining to the modification of the track layout without bothering to attend. Factory Yamaha riders are apparently above all that scut work.

Cal Crutchlow: “The next paragraph better be singing my praises, Bruce.”

I do, for the benefit of readers who believe I am constantly on Cal Crutchlow’s case, wish to say something positive about the Coventry Crasher. Recall Mugello, after which I praised Cal for doubling – DOUBLING – his point total for the season with his scintillating 11th place performance in Italy. Those of you who found that achievement brilliant will be astounded to learn that HE DID IT AGAIN TODAY! With 10 points entering today’s race, and a credible sixth place finish, his point total for the year now sits at 20! Never mind that three of the four riders who retired or crashed out of today’s race would have likely finished in front of him, resulting in a 9th place haul of seven points.

As the old saying goes, if you want to finish sixth, you must first finish.

“Damn it.”
2016 MotoGP Catalunya Results
Pos. Rider Team Time
1 Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha
2 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda +2.652
3 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda +6.313
4 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Ecstar +24.388
5 Pol Espargaro Monster Yamaha Tech3 +29.546
6 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda +36.244
7 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Corse +41.464
8 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini +42.975
9 Danilo Petrucci Octo Pramac Yaknich Ducati +45.337
10 Jack Miller Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda +49.514
11 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing +46.669
12 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini +55.133
13 Eugene Laverty Aspar Ducati +57.974
14 Tito Rabat Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda +1:00.141
15 Michele Pirro Avintia Ducati +1:00.429
16 Scott Redding Octo Pramac Yaknich Ducati +1:16.269
17 Yonny Hernandez Aspar Ducati 1 Lap
Not Classified
Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Ecstar 7 Laps
Jorge Lorenzo Movistar Yamaha 9 Laps
Andrea Iannone Ducati 9 Laps
Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech3 19 Laps
2016 MotoGP Top Ten Standings After 7 Rounds
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1 Marc Marquez Honda 125
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 115
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 103
4 Dani Pedrosa Honda 82
5 Maverick Vinales Suzuki 72
6 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 59
7 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 49
8 Hector Barbera Ducati 48
9 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 43
10 Andrea Iannone Ducati 41
  • spiff

    I like Iannone, but he makes it tough to be a fan. He really needs to take a page from the Marquez play book. The page that says “relax, there’s plenty of time”. He would have had Lorenzo in two laps or less.

  • spiff

    Did anyone else notice Aprilia in the top ten? Why is it when jobs are on the line guys finally step up?

    • Bruce Allen

      By default. Put 99, 29, 38 and 41 back on track and they’re back to Tranche 4 at best. Bautista qualified 21st?

      • Ozzy Mick

        I guess the same argument applies to Miller’s top ten finish but hey, that’s racing, right?

        • Old MOron

          Hey Mick, I read that Marquez attributes Repsol Honda’s improvement to a change in the electronics. I hope they are learning to use the new software, and I hope they will share the improved settings with the satellite teams. This should help Miller (and Rabat).

          • Ozzy Mick

            Thanks for the heads up OldMO, but in the case of Miller, I suspect that Mr. Allen’s assessment is correct, which is that he’s out of his league and the strategy to leapfrog Moto2 has been a dismal failure :(

          • Old MOron

            Well, let’s compare Jack’s rookie season (last year) to Tito Rabat’s rookie season (this year).

            So far Tito has done:
            Qatar: 15
            Arg: 8
            Indy: 13
            Jerez: 18
            Le Mans: DNF
            Mugello: DNS
            Catalunia: 14

            In his rookie year, Jack did:
            Qatar: DNF
            Indy: 14
            Arg: 12
            Jerez: 20
            LeMans: DNF
            Mugello: DNF
            Catalunia: 11

            So Jack is on par with the Moto 2 Champion. I don’t think it’s fair to say that skipping Moto 2 has been a dismal failure. Stefan Bradl made a stronger start in Moto GP, but that was many years ago, on a much better Honda.

  • DKing

    What a great race. So nice to see Rossi and Marquez shake hands after the race. Maybe they can put their differences aside and just try to make sure Lorenzo doesn’t get another championship..lol

    • Old MOron

      Ha ha ha! Funniest comment ever.

  • Old MOron

    Bruce, you’re both on-point and hilarious today. Okay, that’s normal for you, but there’s a lot of material today, and you’ve hit it out of the park.

    I do want to comment on the Bruise brothers and the Safety Commission. Vale said, basically, “I don’t like that they modified turn 10, but I accept their decision because I wasn’t at the meeting.” Jorge said, “I’m disappointed that they would take such an important decision without consulting me, the championship leader and the reigning champion.” Their sentiments are worlds different, and I think it’s unfair to lump them together.

    I just watched the post-race press conference. I think it’s the best I’ve ever seen. The riders were very thoughtful and sincere. There was no gamesmanship, no political correctness, no sniping. It’s a good thing Jorge didn’t make the podium, because I’m sure he would’ve put his foot in his enormous mouth, as he always does. But seriously, anyone who can get a hold of the post-race press conference, watch it.

    • Bruce Allen

      Read the story on Crash.net. Most of the grid seems furious with both of them. Too uppity to bother with Safety Commission crap. Lorenzo went so far as to say the changes at 9 and 10 were made to give the advantage to the Hondas. Go to the meetings or STFU.

      • Old MOron

        Yes, I saw those. I guess Bradley and Pol were particularly condemning. Still, I think it’s worlds different to say, I don’t like it but I accept it because I didn’t go, and how dare they not consult me?

        • Bruce Allen

          Listening to Rossi at the presser, I got the impression he had revised his opinion somewhat after getting blistered by the JV guys. But I agree with what you say.

          • Fausto Carello

            Right you are Bruce

  • Gruf Rude

    Ianonne is going to kill somebody if he keeps this up but he doesn’t seem inclined to learn from his mistakes. Actually, after watching his post-race interview, I’m not sure he’s capable of learning – he looks and sounds like he’s brain-damaged. . .

    • spiff

      I just read a qoute from Iannone where he claims he was hitting all the same marks, and that Lorenzo was that slow. He claims his telemetry backs this up. I hope it is true, other wise he is just a bone head.

      • Gruf Rude

        ‘Hitting all the same marks’ might work when the track is empty; it doesn’t excuse a total failure to control the bike in traffic.

        • spiff

          True.

    • Bruce Allen

      Sic was the same way for a long time, though he came around toward the end.

  • Old MOron

    PS: in the post-race press conference, the riders were even measured and fair when talking about the Maniac Joe. I was impressed.

  • john burns

    Do we think there was some sort Rossi Fan Club crowd fund used to pay Iannone or all out of Rossi’s own pocket? Either way, I completely approve and would’ve been happy to kick in a few lire. Euros.

  • john burns

    waiting for Angela Markel to chime in here.

    • Old MOron

      Ha ha, you think she’ll take issue with Bruce’s analysis? It’s a good thing VerticalScope is not a German company.

      • Bruce Allen

        Right. But Germany? The recipient of countless billions in aid and loan forgiveness after WWII? The mind reels. And Greece may never recover; her entire educated class is fleeing, her infrastructure is crumbling, the schools are collapsing, and the economy is shrinking. Shame on the EU. Shame on Angela Merkel. But it is nice to have this rant on a motorcycle site. :)

        • Fausto Carello

          Sorry Bruce but the picture is much worse.

  • http://facebook.com/ East South

    marquez was the most impressive the way he moved the bike in that race was inhuman. after every start-finish straight run the bike was wiggling on the braking.

  • Starmag

    Head butting, crashing his own teammate out of a 2nd place finish and himself out of third and now bowling down JL, the points leader, should have earned AI a race suspension. Starting him at the back of the next race seems like a punishment to the riders in front of him who will become potential targets to someone with something to prove and spastic desire. His behavior after each incident seems to show he thinks he’s never at fault.

    He appropriately has “maniac” sewn on his ass. Who gets t-boned next?

    Otherwise, this was one worth watching. The old goat still has some tricks up his sleeve.

  • Shlomi

    I don’t think that in any time during the last few laps Marquez said to himself that its OK to finish second. Unlike with last round when he fought against Lorenzo, this time he had no speed to match Rossi at the end. He tried his best, but Rossi made it looks easy like Marquez is fine with second place.

  • Bruce Allen

    #29 gets two points and a rear-of-grid start in Assen. Starting last on the GP16 = Target Rich Environment.

  • JMDonald

    Sanders/Crutchlow 2016.

    • Starmag

      Campaign Slogan “Crash and Bern! “

  • Vrooom

    Nice to see Rossi pull one out. I suspect Marquez was both hungry to beat Rossi and heartbroken that his little boo boo might be injured, and that distracted him from any serious attempt to close Rossi out. He made the right decision. Winning is good, leading the championship better. Vinales had a strong finish in 4th too, Yamaha’s lucky to have him. There’s no defending Iannone, but I will say before they collided I thought to myself that it looked like Lorenzo was moving really slow in that corner. Still you have to brake for obstacles, and nobody wins when you and your competitor crash out.

  • schizuki

    The way Lorenzo’s day was going, I think the crash cost him maybe five points.