CATALUNYA, Spain — Jorge Lorenzo has won the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya for the third time in four years, beating Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez on Sunday afternoon.
Valentino Rossi rode a lonely race to fourth position while as many as eight riders retired, including Cal Crutchlow who crashed out on the sixth lap.
Saturday had seen Dani Pedrosa smashing Casey Stoner’s 2008 lap record en route to an impressive pole position for the Repsol Honda Team rider’s 200th Grand Prix weekend. He would ultimately lose his lead on the drag to the first corner and never regain the top spot, not least as teammate Marquez closed in from behind.
Two weeks ago, Lorenzo had sealed his second victory of the campaign in Italy. He now becomes the first rider to win three times in 2013, in the process moving to within seven points of championship-leading Pedrosa.
This afternoon, the Mallorcan made the most of the battling Hondas to pull out a lead of over one second with four laps to go.
“A perfect day, to be honest I didn’t expect to win, I knew I had some chance but not like in Mugello where I was more convinced we could get the victory,” said Lorenzo. “It was really difficult physically as it was the hottest race of the year. I kept pushing 100% all race because any mistake would have been a disaster. I was surprised at the start as I expected to just pass Cal but I passed Dani also. I took profit from it and tried to open the gap but it was not enough to go away, Dani was there and we played some games, I was 0.5 ahead then 0.2; I was going then he was recovering me.
“Finally because I was tough mentally and never gave up I could open in the last five laps a little gap that was enough to win. The girl who designed my helmet, Anna Vives, is famous in Spain; she is a symbol that people with Down syndrome are capable of a lot more than some people think. I think it was very original and colourful so I was very proud and happy to have her on the podium to share the win with me.”
As Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo moved to seventh in the all-time rankings for premier class race wins, with his 26th victory putting him one ahead of 1993 World Champion Kevin Schwantz, Pedrosa was forced to fight a rear-guard action even though Marquez had almost removed himself from the race on the penultimate lap.
Heading into turn four on the 24th of the 25 tours, Marquez suffered a significant scare and came perilously close to losing the front end of his bike. He would go on to reduce a six-tenth of a second margin to finish the race just six hundredths behind Pedrosa, although the key to his day had been a strong getaway from sixth on the grid.
Taking advantage of the dramas in front of him – such as accidents for Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow and Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, going out in separate solo incidents on the tenth lap – Stefan Bradl enjoyed a second consecutive top five finish as Tech 3’s Bradley Smith celebrated a personal best result of sixth. In ninth, Colin Edwards picked up his personal 2013 best for NGM Mobile Forward Racing.
The leading CRT rider for the sixth time in as many Grands Prix this season, Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro finished eighth for the second race in a row, while GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista was upset to have crashed on the opening lap following a near-miss with Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha. Also in the gravel at the La Caixa corner were PBM’s Michael Laverty and Ignite Pramac Racing’s Michele Pirro, although the Italian went on to finish tenth.
The high attrition allowed an assortment of riders to enjoy their best races of the season, including Australian newcomer Bryan Staring who finished 14th to score the first points for the Gresini CRT bike. Scoring on his debut was Avintia Blusens’ Javier del Amor, substituting for Hiroshi Aoyama who had injured a finger on Saturday.
Six races into the 2013 MotoGP™ campaign, Dani Pedrosa leads Jorge Lorenzo by the further reduced margin of seven points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Yamaha has moved to within four points of the leading Honda. The battle will continue in The Netherlands, with the historic Iveco TT Assen on Saturday 29th June.