Yamaha superstars Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo dominated an incredible Catalan Grand Prix today, delivering a show-stopping performance from start to finish at Montmel� in front of a packed house. It was the reigning World Champion Rossi who finally emerged the winner, taking a memorable 99th career victory after a stunning last-corner pass on his 22-year-old team-mate, but the Fiat Yamaha pair were separated by under one hundredth of a second after 25 thrilling laps.
After running at a near identical pace all weekend it always looked like being a head-to-head between them and they set off in grid order with Lorenzo leading from Rossi and Casey Stoner. The Italian made his first move at the end of the straight on lap four and passed the Mallorcan into turn one, but all three remained within half a second of each other until four laps later, when the Yamaha duo on their YZR-M1s began to pull away from Stoner, quickly opening out a second’s gap and leaving the rest of the field trailing in their wake. With just a couple of tenths between them there was no margin for error but at the end of the back straight on lap thirteen Lorenzo saw a way through and passed his team-mate to take the lead. They continued wheel to wheel until Rossi made another move ten laps later, but the race still wasn’t over and there were several more nail biting changes of lead between them before Lorenzo looked to have it sewn-up half way round the final lap. The nine-time champion had one more card to play on the youngster however and edged his machine through in an inch-perfect last corner challenge to take his ninth win in all classes at this track.
With Stoner finishing third, the three incredibly now have 106 points apiece after six races, meaning something of a championship restart for them at the Dutch TT in Assen in two week’s time, a favourite track for both Rossi and Lorenzo.
Valentino Rossi, 1st
"As we say in Italy, "Mamma Mia!" I think I can honestly say that this was one of the best and hardest wins of my career. Maybe Laguna last year was more important but this was a great, great victory because it went to the very last corner and it’s a long time since that has happened. I have dreamed about that move for the last two weeks and today it worked and I am so happy to have this 99th win. We did a perfect job all weekend and my M1 and Bridgestone tyres were brilliant, but we knew that Lorenzo was in the same situation and for sure he was very strong today. I had to be very brave and take it right to the limit in order to beat him. This victory today is more important than the 25 points and anyway now we all have the same, what a championship this is! As well as thanking my team, I especially want to dedicate this win to my Crew Chief Jeremy Burgess because his mother sadly died yesterday. I have to say thank you to her and to him because without him, for sure, I would never have arrived at 99 wins. Now I am going to go to sleep for quite a long time because I need to recover from this excitement!"
Jorge Lorenzo, 2nd
"This was an incredible battle today and a brilliant show for everyone, I am happy to have been a part of it. Of course I am sad to have lost because I put my heart on my bike and in my career I am more used to winning these last-lap fights, but today Valentino was maybe a little bit cleverer or a little bit braver than me at the very end and he was able to beat me. In fact during that last lap, after I passed him, I expected him to pass me back on the brakes much earlier but he didn’t come, and then I just didn’t close the line enough on the final corner and that was it. I am proud however because I am young and I still have a lot to learn in this class. My team have worked so well all weekend so thanks to them, if we can continue as strongly as this all season then who knows what can happen?"
Davide Brivio, Team Manager
"This race deserves one of the top places in the gallery of Valentino’s career. First of all, it was great day for Yamaha because we dominated a great race, with clean fighting and a great show. Everyone has been talking about the fact that there hasn’t been a last-lap overtake in 43 races but I think we answered that today! For Valentino it is a very important victory and a win like that is great motivation, but the best thing for us is that it confirms what a good job we have done on the set-up. On Friday morning we made some significant modifications to the bike so thanks to all the technicians, engineers and the team because they are the ones that have developed these solutions and this victory is the best reward. To win a great race like this you must have a rider like Valentino and a bike and team like ours. The other riders are young and they will soon learn how to do the same, but for the time being Valentino is the only one who can do it. Tomorrow we will do some testing. We were looking forward to it, but in fact a lot of the things that we would have tested we have already tried out this weekend! Anyway, we will be here again working hard to make our rider’s life even better for the remainder of the championship."
Daniele Romagnoli, Team Manager
"What a race! It’s a great day for Jorge, for the team and also a great day for Yamaha. It was a fantastic battle, which I think everyone enjoyed watching and seeing Jorge fight to the end with Valentino was very special for our side of the garage. It’s a very important result because 20 points means we have the same points as Valentino and Casey and now we can go to the next race in a strong position. Hopefully we can continue in this shape and maybe next time we can reverse the podium position!"
Edwards seventh, Toseland 13th in Spanish sauna
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards moved into the top six in the MotoGP world championship standings today after finishing seventh in physically demanding Catalunya GP.
Starting the 25-lap race from the second row of the grid, the American lost four places in a typically frenetic opening lap before settling into a consistently fast rhythm as temperatures again soared close to 40 degrees.
Holding eighth until the 13th lap as he again battled to overcome a lack of front-end feel from his Monster Yamaha Tech YZR-M1, Edwards passed Randy de Puniet on lap 14 to claim seventh position.
That put him just over three seconds off a battle for fifth place involving Italian veteran Loris Capirossi and Dani Pedrosa. Edwards produced a determined effort to put pressure on Pedrosa and he was only 1.4s away from the Spaniard and a third top six finish of the season at the chequered flag. Today’s result lifted Edwards into sixth in the overall points and he’s now the leading non-factory rider in the series.
A poor start ruined James Toseland’s hopes of capitalising on his best grid position of the season as he slipped back from ninth to 16th on the first lap in front of 88,502 sun-kissed fans at the Montmelo circuit.
Despite the early setback, the British rider went into full attack mode and became locked in an exciting duel with home favourite Sete Gibernau. Toseland passed Gibernau on lap 16, though by that stage he’d lost contact with a five-rider battle ahead. He eventually recovered to 13th after a pass on Marco Melandri on lap 22.
Colin Edwards 7th – 54 points
"It was a hard race physically because it was so hot out there but I felt I couldn’t ride how I want because of the front-end issue again. But I lost a few places off the line and I’m struggling to get this year’s bike to start. I’m good on the clutch but with the wheelbase shorter on the Yamaha this year I struggle to keep the front-end down as I’m accelerating. I felt good this morning in the warm-up when I was third. It was a bit cooler and I could get the bike to turn, but as soon as it gets hot and slippy I can’t get the bike to turn at all. If I tried to push it would just push the front wide and lose time. I want to push and I could see (Loris) Capirossi and (Dani) Pedrosa in front of me, but the more I push the more mistakes I’d make. As many problems as I’ve had this weekend with the crash yesterday and the lack of feel with the front, I can’t really be upset with seventh. I’m not happy with it, but it was a bit of damage limitation this weekend. My guys at Mon ster Yamaha Tech 3 have worked really hard and we’re going to sort this out and be back fighting closer to the front in Assen, which is a circuit I love."
James Toseland 13th – 29 points
"I’m really disappointed because I went into the race with high expectations after my best qualifying of the year. But I made a bad mistake off the line and gave myself a mountain to climb. The engine just bogged and I lost a load of time and had no chance of getting it back because everybody is doing similar times ahead of me. I also had a few set-up issues in the race and I’m not happy with that. I didn’t have a lot of rear grip and we’ve got to work on the setting to find some rear grip when the tyre is starting to wear. After about eight or ten laps I was having a few issues with rear grip, but the bad start was what really cost me and that was my fault. It’s frustrating because we’ve been going in the right direction and it had looked like we might have had a decent weekend. But I’ll pick myself up and be ready to give it my all again for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team in Assen."
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager
"That was an incredible show and an incredible result for Yamaha. I congratulate them because it was unforgettable and anybody who says MotoGP is boring should watch that race. For Monster Yamaha Tech 3 it was a decent result but I think Colin and James will acknowledge they could have been a bit higher up. Colin had a bad start and by the time he recovered, Pedrosa and Capirossi were a bit too far in front of him. He never gave up and he was rewarded by moving back into the top six in the world championship and he’s the best non-factory rider at the moment, so credit to him. It was disappointing for James because all weekend he has been very strong. He is making progress and I know he can bounce back from this and be back challenging for the top ten in Assen."