Dull but profitable MotoGP race at Catalunya

Pole sitter Simoncelli blew his start and followed up on his fast qualifying with a disappointing sixth place finish.
Polesitter Simoncelli blew his start and followed up on his fast qualifying with a disappointing sixth place finish.

As Yamaha team manager Wilco Zeelenberg accurately put it, the MotoGP at Catalunya was “not a very spectacular race.” Still, many of the participants and teams went away happy with their results; of course, a few were far from that.

Casey Stoner kept on where he started off in first practice and blitzed the field on his Repsol Honda. The Yamaha team managed second and third, keeping Jorge Lorenzo in the title chase lead and giving new factory guy Ben Spies his first MotoGP podium of the year.

Valentino Rossi, on the slowly-improving Ducati, was fifth, saying, “I’m obviously not happy with fifth place … Anyway, we’re not too far off, and we’re working well, which we need to continue doing.”

Cal Crutchlow finished seventh, but his teammate Colin Edwards failed to make the start due to a broken collarbone.

Cal Crutchlow, the MotoGP new boy on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team, was delighted with a fighting seventh, his best placing yet in his first season on the top rung. The team’s delight was tempered by the fact that his team-mate Colin Edwards crashed in practice, smashing his right collarbone into five pieces.

Edwards still wanted to start and just do a couple of laps to keep his 100 per cent start record in MotoGP intact, but the medical staff ruled it out. He figures he’ll be able to ride at Silverstone in a week’s time: “I know I can race next weekend and I’m already looking forward to it. I can’t remember the last time I missed a race and I definitely don’t like watching on TV, so I’m desperate to get back.”

Ben Spies took third place, his third time on the MotoGP podium.

Unhappy people included San Carlo Gresini Honda’s Marco Simoncelli, who had pole but fluffed his start and was never in contention, finding sixth behind his friend Rossi the best he was able to do.

Andrea Dovizioso, the other factory Honda rider, wasn’t happy with his tire choice, figuring he could have been on the podium otherwise. Nicky Hayden wasn’t pleased with his ride on the second factory Ducati to eighth, saying he really had no explanation why he wasn’t faster.

Of course, Dani Pedrosa wasn’t there thanks to the collarbone he broke two weeks earlier, and early in the race Hiroshi Aoyama, on the second Gresini bike, crashed and took out Randy de Puniet on one of the Pramac Ducatis.

Other than Simoncelli and Crutchlow moving up to their final positions, there wasn’t much action up front. Stoner grabbed the lead from Lorenzo at the end of the first lap and simply disappeared. Behind him, Lorenzo and Spies held station for the whole race, and after a few entertaining laps with Rossi and Dovizioso swapping spots they also settled down.

Here’s hoping for more interesting action in the U.K. at Silverstone next week. This race started a string of six races in eight weeks, so it’s likely going to set the shape of the title chase pretty solidly.

Standings after five of 18 races:

1. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 98 points
2. Casey Stoner, Australia, Repsol Honda, 91
3. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Repsol Honda, 63
4. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 61
5. Valentino Rossi, Spain, Marlboro Ducati, 58
6. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Marlboro Ducati, 47
7. TIE, Ben Spies, U.S.A., Yamaha Factory Racing, and Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan, San Carlo Gresini Honda, 36
9. Marco Simoncelli, Italy, San Carlo Gresini Honda, 32
10. Cal Crutchlow, U.K. Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, 30

Next race, June 12, Silverstone, U.K.


  1. World Superbike has really become the premier class with close action from start to finish.  Moto GP has become a yawn where money rules, although Ducati, with some great riders on board, are suffering.  It has become similar to formula 1 car racing which I stopped watching years ago for the same reasons.  Creating equality of machinery provides a far better experience for the fan rather than watching a race where there is little to no drama once the racers clear the first corner.

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