Well it’s certainly not a race of deja vu despite taking place at the same track as last week:
The kids have come home upstairs and decided 1:30am is 1:30pm because it’s a weekend morning and woke me up hours early >:( . Hence I’ll write a more detailed synopsis of Day 2 and 3 of the top class.
Earlier in the week was the outrageous news of world champion and top competitor Marc Marquez intent to hop on the bike but a few days after surgery after suffering a broken right arm following a high-side accident while hunting for 2nd place during a seemingly fairy tail like story charging from the back.
Saturday Moto GP Free Practice Session 3 was a flurry of reporting as the “Ant of Cervera” donned his Shoei and hopped on the number 93 Repsol Honda to head out. It was immediately apparent and his lap times were down as he felt out his condition on the bike. However despite being severely down from his peak condition and a click off the bottom of the board, he was really only lapping 1 to 2 seconds slower than the top riders and spending a respectable amount of the session on the track. After which he hurried back to the trailer followed by medical and management for discussion.
FP3 ended with an all time lap record 1:36.584 posted by Maverick Viñales, last weeks winner Fabio Quartararo but + 0.059 behind, and Jack Miller on the Factory Ducati following the 2 Yamahas at + 0.126. FP3 also saw the return of Cal Crutchlow to the track, with a cleared Alex Rins opted to sit the session out.
After some concerns after the checkered in FP3, Free Practice 4 started with another Marc focus. Armed with a plan to complete the laps with more vigour he retired half way through the session ending with a +0.999 in P16 compared to the sessions top time of 1:37.514 set by Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami on the LCR Honda. Once again Fabio Quartararo taking a FP 2nd at +0.165 and Pol Espargaró with an elated KTM team at +0.298.
Q1 saw Marc once again return to the circuit... and come straight back in. Whatever pain suppression juice they had him on was not up to the demand. The world champion explained his decision to both attempt to ride and abandon the weekend to the media, complaining of his elbow and arm strength. We will hopefully see him back with more recovery at the Czech Republic GP, August 6th.
I suppose when it rains it pours as another slug to Repsol Honda hit through with the rookie, teammate, and younger brother Alex Marquez at the very bottom of Q1, and will start the race in last place. Other disappointments in Q1 with Cal Crutchlow in 3rd just out of securing a spot for improvement in Q2, a major surprise with Andrea Dovizioso in 4th clearly struggling with the setup on his factory Ducati, and Alex Rins clearly fighting with his injury at second to last. Miguel Oliveira with the KTM and Franco Morbidelli with the Yamaha moving on to Q2 with 1:37.355 and 1:37.512
Even with Marc out none of the riders relaxed, all continued their push to improve their times on a scorching hot day in Spain. Fabio Quartararo taking pole with a 1:37.007 as Maverick Viñales dipped his wheels off limits on a seriously hot lap to the checker, having to settle with a 1:37.102 for 2nd instead of 1:36.907. Francesco Bagnaia and the Ducati joins the 2 Yamahas at the front row with a 1:37.176. World favourite Valentino Rossi showing better stuff than last week, 46 starting the 2nd row in 4th.
It’s another hellish day in Spain with regards to temperature at 37C [97F]. Riders opting to stay off the grid until a few minutes before start and employ tactics to keep themselves cool in preparation for a 25 lap race.
Rossi getting a good start a picking up a position into the first corner for 3rd with a Yamaha 1-2-3. A crash in the first corner with Brad Binder taking out Miguel Oliveira by tagging his rear tire. Maverick Viñales with a mistake switching places with Rossi at the end of the 1st lap with Alex Marquez making up 9 places as well on the lap from the very back.
Fabio Quartararo is running away with superior pace these first few laps as Viñales battles to get around Rossi. KTM suffers another crash with Iker Lecuona. Lap 7 Rossi now picks up some pace leaving Viñales to be nipped at by 2 Ducatis however Quartararo is still much quicker than anyone else on the course.
10 laps in Viñales is passed by both Ducatis and Franco Morbidelli. Jack Miller is down and out lossing the front end of the Ducati while in P4. Francesco Bagnaia into second able to get away from Rossi. Yet another KTM crash with Brad Binder lap 14. At the end of lap 15 Quartararo is over 4.5s ahead. Franco Morbidelli in 4th out with bike problems Lap 17.
Francesco Bagnaia with the 2nd place Ducati is showing blue smoke at the end of lap 19; and is out lap 20 causing another 1-2-3 Yamaha with Quartararo, Rossi and Viñales. Amazing battle for 2nd with Rossi and Viñales in the late laps, with Rossi going wide lap 24 and loosing 2nd place.
Wow, what a race. The heat certainly played a part noticeably causing exhaustion in riders and wreaking havoc on the machines.
- Quartararo showed alien pace. Marc who?
- Disappointing to see Viñales not having the pace to battle him
- A good show by Rossi, a bunch of people are going to be happy to see “The Doctor” back on the podium
- A surprising and impressive 4th place with Takaaki Nakagami and the Honda up from 8th!
- Joan Mir in 5th running a solid race on the Suzuki
- Dovi somehow finding a setup that worked for him on the Ducati
- Pol Espargaró sadly the only KTM to finish
- Alex Marquez from way downtown with a very good race!
- Johan Zarco taking 9th on the Ducati
- Alex Rins hanging in this brutal race with injury on the Suzuki
- Tito Rabat with the Ducati near the back
- Bradley Smith struggling with the slower Aprilia
- Cal Crutchlow also still battling injury finishes the race in last.
A war of attrition with 3 Ducatis and 3 KTMs, an Aprilia, and a top running Yamaha failing to finish the race.
What do you think?