MotoGP: Rain Threatens Racing at the Catalan GP

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When the Catalan fans’ eyes weren’t on polesitter Marco Simoncelli, they were looking up at the clouds in Barcelona, to see if they would rain on the Spanish track during today’s MotoGP racing action. With the Catalan track damp in some sections, riders started out on slick Bridgestone tires, hoping for the best in what would fall from the heavens in the coming laps.

Disappointing for American fans, was the news that Colin Edwards had broken his collarbone on Friday, and unfortunately MotoGP medical would not let the Texan start today’s race, thus making the 2011 Catalan GP the first time the Texan Tornado has missed a race since 2003. Edwards seemed confident he’d be back for Silverstone though.

Also absent from the grid was the injured Dani Pedrosa, who broke his shoulder in an incident at the French GP with Simoncelli, making the Italian persona non grata in Spain this weekend. Luckily for Spanish fans, Jorge Lorenzo was on the front row for the start and appeased the masses, but he was behind Casey Stoner who had been consistently quick all week long.

At the start of the Catalan GP, it was the Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo with the best start, leading into Turn 1 with Casey Stoner, Ben Spies, Valentino Rossi, and Marco Simoncelli in-tow. It would only take a few corners though for that order to shuffle, as Simoncelli continued to drop back in the field, and as Dovizioso moved forward. Going down the straight away into the second lap, Dovizioso would continue to build up steam as he slipped-in behind Nicky Hayden and passed him with the aid of the slipstream.

Onto the second lap, Stoner would clear Lorenzo, and never look back as he rode his Honda RC212V to victory lane. The race wouldn’t be as easy for the other riders though, as Valentino Rossi found a very fast Andrea Dovizioso nipping on his heals, and eager to get into fourth place. Though the Ducati has shown strong straight-line speed, Rossi’s Desmosedici GP11 was no match for Dovi’s Honda, as the Repsol Honda rider was past the G.O.A.T. going down the straight-away into the third lap.

During the fourth lap, we’d see the only crash of the race, despite the threat of rain, as Hiroshi Aoyama took out Randy de Puniet. Luckily both riders were ok, and Aoyama apologized to the A&R patron saint for the incident. Avoiding that incident was Toni Elias, who stayed in the points, but finished last again this weekend, despite the new 2011 chassis for his satellite Honda bike.

With 13 laps to go, it seemed the clouds were finally ready to dump there water on the circuit halfway through the race, as MotoGP went under flag-to-flag racing, meaning riders could come in and get their back-up bike with rain tires on, should they wish to do so. This would prove to be unnecessary though, as the rain didn’t fall at a meaningful level, and no riders came in to the pit lane to swap bikes.

At this point in the race, the riders up front had essentially found their finishing spots, but the battle for ninth continued all the way to the finish line. In that melee were Loris Capirossi, Karel Abraham, Hector Barbera, and Alvaro Bautista, with MotoGP rookie Abraham giving the oldest man in MotoGP, Loris Capirossi, a run for his money. Capirex would see the Czech rider go past him and challenge him several times, but the Italian was able to take his fellow Ducati rider to the mattresses, and just hold him off at the finish line.

With his win today, Casey Stoner is just seven points behind Jorge Lorenzo, who leads the MotoGP Championship standings with 98 points. Consistency seems to be the key this year, which seems to be Andrea Dovizioso’s strategy, as he moves up into the third slot on the points standings.

Ben Spies podium was a welcomed sight for the American, and he’ll look to build off that momentum at the British GP at Silverstone next week. Also looking to build off his momentum will be Cal Crutchlow, who rode to his best finish ever in MotoGP, but was still disappointed in his result, as he blamed some early race mistakes on his finishing position. Now that he goes to a track he actually knows, we think Cal will be able to make even further improvements, on what is sure to be a Rookie of the Year season.

Race Results from MotoGP at the Catalan GP in Barcelona, Spain:

Pos. No. Rider Nation Team Bike Time
1 27 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda
2 1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +2.403
3 11 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +4.291
4 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team Honda +5.255
5 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati +7.371
6 58 Marco SIMONCELLI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda +11.831
7 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha +26.483
8 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati +33.243
9 65 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Pramac Racing Team Ducati +43.092
10 17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati +43.113
11 8 Hector BARBERA SPA Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP Ducati +44.224
12 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki +45.239
13 24 Toni ELIAS SPA LCR Honda MotoGP Honda +58.268
Not Classified
14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 22 Laps
7 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 22 Laps

Source: MotoGP; Photos: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved