Monster Grand Prix of Catalunya 2016
Posted on May 31, 2016 by Nick Harris
ROUND SEVEN 2016 MotoGP™ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – SUNDAY 5TH JUNE
Barcelona beckons championship leader Lowes
Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes arrives at the magnificent Circuit de Barcelona to defend a slender but precious two point lead in the Moto2™ World Championship at the Monster Energy Grand Prix of Catalunya on Sunday. A full house of MotoGP™ fans will pack the 2.397 mile circuit on the northern outskirts of the Mediterranean city to witness round seven of the highly competitive championship. Lowes, riding the Federal Oil Gresini Kalex picked up a precious third place at the previous round, at the shortened race in Mugello, to re-take the lead from Spaniard Alex Rins who was forced to start from the back of the grid. Last year Rins was second in the Barcelona race behind World Champion Johann Zarco who won last time out in Italy. Lowes was fourth but is full of confidence especially after winning the previous Spanish round in Jerez.
Last year Wiltshire – based Danny Kent won a superb Moto3™ race on route to the world title, but the Leopard Racing rider is still adjusting to Moto2 this year. He finished just in the points in Italy, but an important test the next day at Mugello was spoilt by the rain. It’s also a very tough time for Scotsman John McPhee in the equally competitive Moto3 class. The Racing Steps Foundation – supported rider is struggling to make the Mahindra powered Peugeot MC Saxoprint machine a competitive points scoring package in a championship in which the first 15 point-scoring riders at the previous Mugello round were separated by just over two seconds.
Irishman Eugene Laverty celebrates his 30th birthday on Friday to start practice in Barcelona as the top British rider in the MotoGP World Championship. The Aspar Ducati rider has scored points in every round to hold tenth place in the championship in just his second MotoGP season. He will wear a special Replica helmet this weekend to celebrate the life of Gene McDonnell who was killed at the TT in the Isle of Man 30 years ago.
Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith is getting to grips with the new Michelin tyres after a difficult start to the season. The Monster Tech3 rider was a morale boosting seventh in Mugello, the top Independent Team rider, and finished fifth in the Barcelona race last year. Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding was seventh last year and a repeat would end his run of bad luck on the Octo Pramac Ducati. Isle of Man – based midlander Cal Crutchlow finished 11th at Mugello and will be looking to build from there after a really tough start to the season on the LCR Honda.
Did you know?
This is the 25th successive year that the Circuit de Catalunya has hosted a grand prix; it was first included in the motorcycle grand prix series in 1992, and below are some facts and statistics related to the previous GP events at the circuit:
• Only three current venues have a longer ongoing sequence of hosting grand prix events: Jerez, Mugello and Assen.
• The last time that Spain did not have at least one GP winner across the three classes at the Catalan Grand Prix was 2002.
• During the four-stroke MotoGP™ era, Yamaha have taken eight victories at the Catalunya circuit, Honda have had four wins and Ducati two.
• The last win by Suzuki at the Catalunya Grand Prix was in 2000, with Kenny Roberts. Since the introduction of the MotoGP formula in 2002 the best results by Suzuki riders have been 4th place finishes by John Hopkins in both 2006 and 2007.
• The last podium finish by a Ducati rider at the Catalan GP was the 3rd place finish by Casey Stoner in 2010.
• Aleix Espargaro started from pole last year in Catalunya – the first pole for Suzuki since Chris Vermeulen took the top qualifying spot at the Dutch TT in 2007
• Prior to last year, Honda riders have started from pole for the MotoGP race in Catalunya for the previous four years, but none of those riders have gone on to win the race from pole. The last Yamaha rider to start from pole was Jorge Lorenzo in 2010. Ducati have had a single pole at the Catalunya GP – with Casey Stoner in 2008.
• Only two riders have won the MotoGP race at Catalunya from pole position: Valentino Rossi in 2006 and Jorge Lorenzo in 2010.
• Valentino Rossi is the most successful rider across all grand prix classes at the Catalunya circuit with nine victories (1 x 125cc, 2 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 5 x MotoGP). The next most successful, with five wins is Jorge Lorenzo (1 x 250cc, 4 x MotoGP).
• There have been nine premier-class victories by Spanish riders at the Catalunya circuit; Alex Criville in 1995 & 1999, Carlos Checa in 1996, Dani Pedrosa in 2008, Jorge Lorenzo in 2010, 2012, 2013 & 2015, and Marc Marquez in 2014.
• There has been at least one Spanish rider on the podium in the MotoGP race at the Catalan GP for the last nine years.
• For the last two years, the three riders who won at Catalunya all went on to win their respective world titles.
• Maria Herrera finished 15th in the Moto3™ race in Catalunya last year to become the fifth female rider to score points in grand prix racing, along with: Taru Rinne – 125cc, Tomoko Igata – 125cc, Katja Poensgen – 250cc and Ana Carrasco – Moto3.
Grand Prix racing numbers
140 – Jorge Lorenzo’s win in Italy was the 140th time that he has stood on the podium across all grand prix classes, once more than Spanish grand prix racing legend Angel Nieto. In the 68 year history of motorcycle grand prix racing, only three riders have stood on the podium more often than Lorenzo: Valentino Rossi (214 podium finishes), Giacomo Agostini (159) and Dani Pedrosa (142).
102 – Jorge Lorenzo’s win at Mugello was the 102nd time he has stood on the podium in the MotoGP™ class, once more than his great rival Dani Pedrosa. Only Valentino Rossi, with 178, has more premier-class podium finishes than Lorenzo.
100 – Jorge Lorenzo’s win at the Italian GP was the 100th victory for Yamaha in the four-stroke MotoGP class. The breakdown of wins by riders: Valentino Rossi – 54, Jorge Lorenzo – 43, Max Biaggi – 2, Ben Spies – 1.
63 – Valentino Rossi’s pole position in Jerez was the 63rd of his grand prix career across all classes. This is the same number of pole positions as team-mate Jorge Lorenzo has achieved. No other rider has started from pole on more occasions that these two riders in the modern-era of grand prix racing (since 1974) when full pole position data is available.
30 – Eugene Laverty celebrates his 30th birthday on the first day of practice at the Catalan Grand Prix.
29 – Alexis Masbou, the oldest rider currently competing in the Moto3 class, celebrates his 29th birthday on the day before practice starts for the grand prix in Catalunya.
11 – The rider starting on pole has not won in the Moto3 class for the last eleven races. The last time a rider starting a Moto3 race from pole won the race was Enea Bastianini at Misano last year.
10 – Johann Zarco’s victory at Mugello was the 10th time he has stood on the top step of the podium in the Moto2™ class. The only two riders with more Moto2 wins than Zarco are Marc Marquez (16) and Tito Rabat (13).
9 years – Valentino Rossi’s engine failure at the Italian Grand Prix was the first time that he has not finished a race due to a technical problem for almost nine years, since the Grand Prix of Valencia in 2007 when he also suffered an engine failure.
4 - Catalunya is one of just four current circuits that Marc Marquez has not been on pole since moving up to the MotoGP class at the start of 2013, along with Motegi, Assen and the Red Bull Ring in Austria that is being used for the first time this year.
3 – Francesco Bagnaia gave Mahindra their third Moto3™ podium finish of 2016 at the Italian Grand Prix. This is already equals the highest number of podium finishes for Mahindra in a single season, that was achieved in 2014.
0.019 seconds – The winning margin for Jorge Lorenzo over Marc Marquez at Mugello was 0.019 seconds, making it the seventh closest finish of all-time in the premier-class of grand prix racing.
Back on the home front
After battling behind enemy lines in Mugello, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez return to the home front at the Monster Energy Grand Prix of Catalunya in Barcelona on Sunday. The two Spanish riders fought an epic battle in the previous round, with World Champion Jorge Lorenzo’s Movistar Yamaha coming out on top by 0.019 seconds to arrive at the 2.937 miles Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya circuit with a precious ten point lead over Marquez in the MotoGP™ Championship as the 18 round title chase reached one third distance. It could be equally close on Sunday in front of the partisan crowd with plenty of others ready to join in the fun.
Valentino Rossi has a great record in Barcelona with nine wins but slipped back in the championship when his Yamaha engine blew up while challenging for the lead in Mugello after starting the race from pole. The Italian is now 37 points behind team-mate Lorenzo with Marquez’s Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa closing on him, 12 points adrift.
Andrea Iannone set the fastest lap and a record top speed in Mugello on the factory Ducati eventually finishing third, in a race he could have won, after a bad start from the front row. Last year the two Ecstar Suzukis of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales took the first two places on the front row. Without the softer tyre option this year a repeat would be difficult but both are very capable of top six finishes around this demanding track on the northern outskirts of the City. Despite a disappointing ride in Mugello local boy Pol Espargaro, younger brother of Aleix, is having a good season on the Monster Tech3 Yamaha and will need to keep a cool head over the weekend. Another Spanish rider having a good season is Hector Barbara who’s just five points behind Pol Espargaro in eighth place on the Avintia Ducati. His team-mate Loris Baz will be replaced by Ducati test rider Michele Pirro after breaking his right foot in Mugello. Former Moto2™ World Champion Tito Rabat is expected to ride at his home grand prix after an operation to plate the collarbone he broke in Italy.
The heat is on in the Moto2™ Championship with Britain’s Sam Lowes regaining the championship lead after the shortened race in Mugello, won by World Champion Johann Zarco. Alex Rins, who started from the back of the grid in the shortened race, will be desperate for revenge in front of the home crowd. He trails Lowes by just two points with Qatar winner Tom Luthi just one point in front of Zarco, who won the race last year in Barcelona, in third place.
It’s a lot clearer in Moto3™ with South African Brad Binder chasing a record breaking fourth successive win. The Red Bull Ajo KTM rider has finished on the podium at every race this year to build an impressive 49 points lead in the championship. Spaniard Jorge Navarro is desperate to win his first grand prix not only to delight the home crowd but to prevent Binder running away with the championship. Also four mighty fast Italians Romano Fenati, Nicolo Bulega, Francesco Bagnaia and Niccolo Antonelli are breathing down his neck in the battle for second.
BT Sport 2
Friday 3rd June 08.00pm – 15.00pm (practice)
Saturday 4th June 08.00pm – 15.15pm (practice & qualifying)
Sunday 5th June 07.30pm – 15.00pm (warm-up and races)
ITV 4 Highlights
Monday 6th June 20.00pm – 21.00pm