MotoGP Catalunya Results 2019
Marquez avoids bedlam, cruises at Montmelo
Marc Marquez was probably going to win the Catalan GP anyway. But once Repsol Honda teammate Jorge “El Gato” Lorenzo skittled Ducati‘s Andrea Dovizioso and both factory Yamaha riders out of the proceedings on Lap 2, it was done and dusted in Barcelona. The Catalan’s lead in the world championship ballooned from 12 to 37 points. Valencia is groaning, joined by most of the rest of the motorcycle racing world. Here we go again.
After the Lap 2 histrionics, an exhausting battle for second place developed, won by insolent French rookie heartthrob Fabio Quartararo, who, starting from pole, edged Ducati veteran Danilo Petrucci for the honor of his first premier class podium. Eleven riders failed to finish today, which explains some of the other confusing point hauls. There were a host of hard feelings filling the air after the race; plenty of riders felt they deserved better. Not to mention the caustic fact that Marc Marquez was the main beneficiary of Lorenzo’s gaffe, allowing him to put his boot on the throat of the 2019 championship. Ain’t nobody need that.
Practice and Qualifying
The fact that 20-year-old rookie Quartararo dominated the practice timesheets again, on both days at Montmelo, two weeks after surgery for arm pump, needs to stop arriving as a surprise, at least to me. In November of last year, as the last promotee signed, I considered him the least qualified of the four Moto2 riders making the leap. Still sporting stitches, he captured FP1:P2 FP2:P1 FP3:P2 FP4:P1. Has a certain symmetry to it. He has been doing stuff like this all year, then going out and making a mess of qualifying or making rookie mistakes in races.
Marquez conducted a bit of a race simulation on worn tires for most of FP2 after leading FP1, cruising home knowing he had the pace, if needed, to improve on his combined P9 position heading into Saturday. Dovi, Takaa Nakagami on the #2 LCR Honda, veteran Pol Espargaro keeping his KTM upright, and rookie underachiever Pecco Bagnaia (four DNFs in six rounds) delivered impressive performances on Friday and comprised a rather surprising top five (four behind Quartararo).
MotoGP, at all three levels, has developed three qualifying sessions, two official and one, um, ex officio, as it were. The scramble to pass directly to Q2 makes FP3 its own qualifier, as it was here on Saturday. It produced good news for several riders, and not so good news, on the lamb-goat continuum, for others. FP3 begets Q1 begets Q2.
Q1 would include names like Jack Miller, Nakagami and Franco Morbidelli, three young guns who had lit it up on Friday. Drive for show, putt for dough. Aleix, rookie Bagnaia and the hapless, likely-to-be-bought-out/defector Johann Zarco (“Chumley, get me OUTTA HERE!”), effing around in 19th. Sylvain Guintoli, guesting with Suzuki, enjoying the experience, once again, of beating someone at something, posterizing my boy, the apparently doomed Hafizh Syahrin, lately of Tech 3 KTM, who has WSBK written all over him. Sometimes I just go on and on.
In Q1, Morbidelli and Joan Mir won promotions to Q2, at the expense of Pramac Ducati representatives Miller and Bagnaia. As usual, Q2 was worth the price of admission all by itself. When the dust cleared, it was the New Kid in Town, Quartararo, on his second premier class pole, sandwiching Marquez between Yamahas, Maverick Viñales sitting in third. Morbidelli, Valentino Rossi and Dovizioso comprised would should have been an all-Italian second row. Alex Rins had a great shot at a front row start but crashed during his second Q2 run and would start in P8.
But that was all tossed out the window later by Race Direction when Viñales was penalized three grid spots for impeding Quartararo, who had already clinched pole. This is what is meant by the term “unforced error.” Another example of why Viñales is still not an Alien.
Dovizioso and Marquez shared the holeshot, with the Italian emerging from Turn 1 in the lead, which wouldn’t last. Almost nothing would, as riders began hitting the deck almost immediately. Bradley Smith, guest-crashing for Aprilia and his victim Karel Abraham – boom. Lorenzo and victims Dovizioso, Viñales and Rossi – boom. Aleix Espargaro – pffft. Hafizh Syahrin – boom. Pecco Bagnaia – boom. Franco Morbidelli – boom. And, not to be outdone, having just moved past Jack Miller into P4, Cal Crutchlow – boom. Cal’s analyst says it’s poppycock to suggest he’s afraid of success.
With a plurality of these unseated riders lolling in the top ten for the year, rookie Mir captured 10 points in a gratifying P6. Pol Espargaro snagged nine points for the desperate KTM project. Nakagami, Tito Rabat (?) and the morose Johann Zarco closed out the top ten. Mir and Zarco both had their best day of the season, by default.
The Big Picture
After seven rounds, with Assen in two weeks and The Sachsenring in three, the big picture is sucking. Hard. Once again, Marquez has become metronomic, and once again the rest of the grid is proving itself completely unable to cope. Sure, it was fun to see Petrucci win at Mugello and Rins at COTA. OK, I enjoyed Marquez getting pimped by Dovizioso in the desert back in March. But, come on. It is intellectually dishonest to purport that any rider out there this season is going to seriously challenge Marquez for the 2019 title.
So why watch? Well, despite the artistry of Marquez himself, there is the scrotum-shrinking speed. There is the arrival of bright young talent, guys like Quartararo, Rins, Mir, Morbidelli and more. There is the top-to-bottom improvement in the grid, illustrated this week by Fabio Quartararo and Hafizh Syahrin during qualifying. Rocketman Quartararo seized pole with a lap time of 1:39.48. Syahrin dragged his hopeless derriere across the line in 24th position clocked at 1:41.75.
There is no justice in this world.
There is, however, a contest worth watching in an emerging battle for second place. The factory Ducatis of Dovi and Petrucci are separated by five points, with Great Suzuki Hope Rins also in the midst. Not mist, midst. If Marquez is going to run off and hide again this year, at least these three appear capable of providing some civilized competition in 2019.
Tranche 1: Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso, Alex Rins
Tranche 2: Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow, Danilo Petrucci, Jack Miller, Franco Morbidelli, Fabio Quartararo
Tranche 3: Takaa Nakagami, Aleix Espargaro, Maverick Viñales, Pol Espargaro
Tranche 4: Joan Mir, Jorge Lorenzo, Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira, Pecco Bagnaia
Tranche 5: Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin, Tito Rabat, Andrea Iannone
Tranche 1: Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso, Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo
Tranche 2: Valentino Rossi, Danilo Petrucci, Jack Miller, Franco Morbidelli, Takaa Nakagami, Maverick Viñales
Tranche 3: Cal Crutchlow, Aleix Espargaro, Pol Espargaro, Joan Mir
Tranche 4: Jorge Lorenzo, Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira, Pecco Bagnaia
Tranche 5: Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin, Tito Rabat, Andrea Iannone
The Undercards, Briefly
Moto3 was a battle of attrition and as good a race as one is likely to see in the motorcycle biz. The 12th different winner in the last 12 rounds, Marcos Ramirez, won his maiden grand prix. Series leader Aron Canet managed to stay upright and accrued 20 points on a day when several of his competitors hit the deck. Young SKY46 VR racing academy grad Celestino Vietti started 21st and finished third. 31 starters were winnowed down to 19 finishers, three of whom re-mounted after offs. And your boy John McPhee got whacked and recorded The Save of the Decade, left leg pointed straight up in the air at one point, well off track; unbelievable stuff.
In Moto2 today, series leader Alex Marquez overcame a relatively poor start to win his third race in a row, outdueling veteran Tom Luthi in a bit of a procession. Lorenzo Baldassarri, who led the series until today, recorded yet another DNF, his third of the year, to go along with three wins, and would be well advised to stay away from proffered microphones, as his speaking voice brings to mind the Italian term, “castrato.” Dude has a kind of Graham Nash thing going on.
Two Weeks to Assen
Two weeks until Assen gets another opportunity to Keep Things Weird. In order to even maintain a pretense of suspense, it is important that someone other than Marquez take the gold medal in the Low Countries. Unusual names like Spies and Miller have appeared on the top step at The Cathedral in the not-too-distant past. The Yamahas and Suzukis enjoy this place; Marquez is mouthing words about how it will be so, so difficult to win in two weeks.
Pure shinola, of course. We’ll “be there” nonetheless, watching all the sessions, sending cosmic motivation to the challengers. For now, the universe is aligned in Marquez’ favor; we can only shake our heads in wonder. So we shall pay a visit to The Cathedral, lifting up a novena for a competitive second half of the season.
2019 MotoGP Catalunya Results
|Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda||40:31.175|
|Fabio Quartararo||Petronas Yamaha SRT||+2.660|
|Danilo Petrucci||Mission Winnow Ducati||+4.537|
|Álex Rins||Suzuki Ecstar||+6.602|
|Jack Miller||Pramac Ducati||+6.870|
|Joan Mir||Suzuki Ecstar||+7.040|
|Pol Espargaro||Red Bull KTM Factory||+16.144|
|Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda Idemitsu||+17.969|
|Tito Rabat||Reale Avintia Ducati||+22.661|
|Johann Zarco||Red Bull KTM Factory||+26.228|
|Andrea Iannone||Aprilia Gresini||+32.036|
|Miguel Oliveira||Red Bull KTM Tech3||+44.666|
|Sylvain Guintoli||Suzuki Ecstar||+51.363|
|Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda Castrol||6 Laps|
|Franco Morbidelli||Petronas Yamaha SRT||8 Laps|
|Francesco Bagnaia||Pramac Ducati||19 Laps|
|Hafizh Syahrin||Red Bull KTM Tech3||21 Laps|
|Valentino Rossi||Monster Energy Yamaha||22 Laps|
|Andrea Dovizioso||Mission Winnow Ducati||22 Laps|
|Maverick Viñales||Monster Energy Yamaha||23 Laps|
|Jorge Lorenzo||Repsol Honda||23 Laps|
|Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia Gresini||23 Laps|
|Karel Abraham||Reale Avintia Ducati||0 Laps|
|Bradley Smith||Aprilia Racing Team||0 Laps|
2019 MotoGP Top 10 Standings After 7 Rounds
|Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda||140|
|Andrea Dovizioso||Mission Winnow Ducati||103|
|Álex Rins||Suzuki Ecstar||101|
|Danilo Petrucci||Mission Winnow Ducati||98|
|Valentino Rossi||Monster Energy Yamaha||72|
|Jack Miller||Pramac Racing Ducati||53|
|Fabio Quartararo||Petronas Yamaha SRT||51|
|Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda Idemitsu||48|
|Pol Espargaro||Red Bull KTM Factory||47|
|Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda Castrol||42|