MotoGP: Valentino Rossi Finds Redemption

Rossi takes another thrilling victory at the Catalan Grand Prix. The perfect medicine for his woes at the previous round at Mugello.

Valentino Rossi 2016
Valentino Rossi (pictured) came out on top of another thrilling victory at Catalunya, seven years after his epic win over teammate Jorge Lorenzo.Photo Courtesy of Yamaha

After a heartbreaking end to his home Grand Prix at Mugello, Valentino Rossi rebounded in a big way. The Movistar Yamaha rider fought off rival Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda in another one of Rossi’s great battles at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit to take his second win of the season.

“You can’t wish for a better race,” Rossi said. “This is one of my favorite tracks and it was from 2009 that I didn’t win here, and that wasn’t great for me. For this reason I’m more happy today and the battle with Marquez we can put on the same level as the battle with [Jorge] Lorenzo [back in 2009].”

In the end it was the best medicine for Mugello’s engine failure that took him out of the fight for the win at his home Grand Prix. “What happened in Mugello was very sad because I was ready to fight for the victory there, which was fantastic. Over the last week I just thought I had to try and do the same, to arrive ready for the race. Together with my team we did a great job and I think this is the best way to forget about the zero points in Mugello.”

The road to victory wasn’t easy. It was a tough weekend for everyone after the loss of Moto2 rider Luis Salom, but the change in the track layout (for safety reasons) had Rossi on his back foot Saturday and qualifying fifth. In the end, he and his team turned it around on Sunday.

“I think it was a perfect Sunday,” Rossi explained. “Because this morning we improved the setting of the bike a lot and after the warm-up I felt more confident about the race.”

Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo
It was a reversal of fortune for the Movistar Yamaha teammates with Rossi (46) taking the win and Lorenzo (99) zero points at the Catalan Grand Prix.Photo Courtesy of Yamaha

On the flipside it was a less than perfect Sunday for Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo who scored zero points at his home Grand Prix after Andrea Iannone ran into the back of Lorenzo, taking them both out of the race. As one can imagine, Lorenzo was less than happy about the incident that took away his championship lead. Marquez now sits 10 points in the lead over Lorenzo. The result also moved Rossi back into contention for the championship, 22 points-behind Marquez.

Also, like Mugello, Marquez fought hard for the win with ultimately the same result – second. Unlike Mugello, it was not a photo finish, but not less thrilling. With five laps to go, Marquez put it all out there to try and take the win, almost crashing a couple of times in the process. Those near misses combined with Lorenzo being knocked out of the race, had Marquez deciding discretion was the better part of valor and Rossi was able to cross the line without any pressure.

“Honestly today, I was on the limit the whole race behind Valentino,” Marquez admitted. “I was planning the last laps, but I was not really comfortable; not like Mugello. And then I try a little bit, because I was in the limit, but I was not hundred percent convinced, and maybe this was the main mistake because I was there, but at the same time I was thinking about the championship.”

Marc Marquez 2016
It was a valiant effort on Marc Marquez' (93) part, but after a few close calls, Marquez decided second-place points was more important in the grand scheme of things.Photo Courtesy of Repsol Honda

Joining the pair on the podium was Marquez’ teammate Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard gambled on a rear tire, choosing the medium rear in the attempt to find more grip, something that Pedrosa has been struggling with the harder option tires the whole season because of his size.

“At the end I had to chose, I chose only in the last second,” Pedrosa explained. “I knew every rider picked the hard rear so I was about to pick the same, but at the last second I change my mind, and try to do a different strategy because it was a little better for me.”

The gamble didn’t really pay off though, but it was still a podium. And even though he’s already had a few of those in spite of his troubles in 2016, this one was perhaps the most satisfying. “At the end, five-six laps to go the tire was finished, but I’m happy because in Mugello we made a little step and also again here; this is positive.”

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Vinales battled with Pedrosa early on but had to settle for fourth in the end. In fifth and top satellite finisher was Pol Espargaro on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine. LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow was sixth, equaling his best finish in nearly a year.

Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso was seventh ahead of Alvaro Bautista, an impressive finish for the Spaniard on the young factory Aprilia machine. Rounding out the top 10 was Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci and Avintia Ducati’s Hector Barbera.

Dani Pedrosa 2016
Dani Pedrosa (26) lost touch with the leaders battling with Maverick Vinales (25), but in the end was able to finish a solid third.Photo Courtesy of Repsol Honda

2016 MotoGP Catalunya Results:

  1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha

  2. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda

  3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda

  4. Maverick Vinales (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar

  5. Pol Espargaro (SPA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3

  6. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) LCR Honda

  7. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati

  8. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Aprilia

  9. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati

  10. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Ducati

  11. Jack Miller (AUS) Marc VDS Honda

  12. Stefan Bradl (GER) Aprilia

  13. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aspar Ducati

  14. Tito Rabat (SPA) EG 0.0 Marc VDS

  15. Michele Pirro (ITA) Avintia Ducati

  16. Scott Redding (GBR) Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati

  17. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Aspar Honda

DNF. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar

DNF. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati

DNF. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha

DNF. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3