Photography by Gold & Goose
Just about every circumstance has been thrown at Marc Marquez this season, but time and again the young MotoGP Champion keeps coming out smelling like a rose. At Catalunya Marquez had to survive a constant threat of rain, a great ride by Valentino Rossi and then a last-lap wheel touch with his teammate Dani Pedrosa to secure his seventh straight victory, staying perfect in 2014.
After a crazy last lap that saw the two factory Honda riders make contact wheel to wheel, Marquez came out the winner by 0.512 seconds over Rossi. Pedrosa, having made a valiant effort to go for the win, paid the price when he made the error. He managed to escape crashing, but was passed by Rossi after his contact with Marquez to hand over second.
After the race Marquez celebrated by signing a soccer ball and kicking it into the grandstands in honor of the World Cup. It was an historic day marking the first time brothers won a GP on the same day. Marc’s younger brother Alex Marquez took victory in Moto3. It also marked the 100th victory for Honda in the MotoGP era, which started in 2002.
The race resulted in Marquez adding to his impressive series lead with a perfect 175 points to Rossi’s 117 and Pedrosa third with 112.
Jorge Lorenzo finished fourth, having run in the lead group intermittently, but ultimately not able to hold the pace of the leaders. Stefan Bradl also ran well, bringing up the tail of the lead pack early and eventually finishing a solid fifth.
American Nicky Hayden came home 13th, a very positive sign in his recovery from recent wrist surgery. Fellow American Colin Edwards, in his final appearance at Catalunya, finished 18th.
With the race starting under ominous clouds Lorenzo swept around the outside to take the lead into the first turn. The contest quickly settled into a five rider break with Lorenzo leading Rossi, Marquez, Pedrosa and Bradl.
The big change came on lap four when both Rossi and Marquez slipped past Lorenzo.
Amazingly after six laps the top five still ran together in a tightly knit group with Rossi leading Marquez, Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Bradl.
On lap seven Bradl dropped just a bit from the leading quartet when he slid under hard braking and ran his LCR Honda wide in a turn. Marquez seemed to be struggling to hold his line and Pedrosa took advantage and slipped by on lap 10, only to be repassed by Marquez a few turns later.
The Honda infighting gave Rossi an ever so slight of a gap at that point of the race. At the same time Lorenzo seemed to be working very hard by now to stay with the others in the lead group.
On lap 10 Cal Crutchlow pulled into the pits with possible electronic issues on his Ducati.
Pedrosa made yet another stab at getting by his teammate on lap 11, but hacked it up and ran well wide, temporarily losing touch with Marquez. Without Pedrosa being a constant bother nipping at him Marquez seemed to be able to focus on the leader and quickly closed in on Rossi. On lap 12 he was right on the leader’s tail and threatening to pass at any moment.
On lap 14 the pass attempt came. Marquez drafted and positioned to pass Rossi, but he seemed to nearly hit Rossi’s rear wheel entering the turn, was too hot then for the turn and ran off the track onto the paved run-off. He then cut the track, but allowed Pedrosa by, but didn’t take long to get back past his teammate.
Meanwhile that gave Rossi his biggest lead of the race at just over a half second. Marquez shook off his earlier mistake and was rallying, chipping away at Rossi’s lead turning the fastest laps of the leaders.
With seven laps to go Marquez finally made his move, drafting on Rossi and then slipping past on the entry to turn one. Just as he took the lead though Marquez put up his hand. Pedrosa and Rossi thought Marquez was signaling rain, and Marquez indeed might have thought a yellow flag being displayed at one corner could have been a signal for rain. Pedrosa let up too, but Rossi stayed under the bubble and went back to the lead. He held it for just under a lap before Marquez and Pedrosa re-engaged and Marquez got back by Rossi.
All of this confusion gave Lorenzo the brief opportunity to rejoin the leading group. With five to go the top four ran together in a lead grouping.
In the closing laps the riders were not only racing each other, but seemingly the rain clouds as well.
With four to go Pedrosa moved inside Rossi going into turn one to take second. He then closed on Marquez and it appeared it was going to be a Repsol Honda battle for the win as Rossi immediate saw a gap develop between him and the Hondas. He still had hope though that the two teammates would mangle one another’s lines in their simmering battle in the final three laps. Lorenzo was in a distant fourth, unable to continue the pace of the leading trio.
The last lap was intense. Pedrosa drafted past his teammate at the end of the front straight, but Marquez instantly responded and took back the point. The two then swapped the lead again with Pedrosa able to outbrake Marquez, but unable able to hold it on the exit. Then with just a few turns to go Pedrosa dove under Marquez, looking to make a move, but then realized it wasn’t going to work, checked up and then as Marquez dove hard right in front of him their wheels touched. Pedrosa was stood up and somehow kept his bike on track, but having his front wheel clipped ran way wide and Rossi was able to slip by for second. Marquez found himself free in the lead with just a few turns left and he held on to earn his seventh straight win of the season, remaining perfect on the season.
Pedrosa secured his 13th-career MotoGP victory and said this race was even more challenging than the Mugello round.
“Of course today was more difficult,” Marquez said when comparing the two races. “Because the Yamaha riders, they have a really good pace at the beginning of the race. Then I was struggling a little bit, but in the end I catch Valentino and I was behind him. I did a mistake at the end of the straight, I braked too late. And then I didn’t know if to go in or go outside. I decided to go outside just to put the risk in that situation on another rider. After that I lose maybe one second, one-and-a-half. I was catching him (Rossi) again and the last laps were so nice. Of course my home circuit. All the fans helped me a little bit. It was really, really special on the last lap to fight with Valentino and Dani. That overtakes I think everybody enjoyed. In the end the most important is we got the 25 points.”
Rossi talked about the moment when Marquez and Pedrosa put their hands up and he retook the lead.
“I don’t understand because Marc lift the hand and also Dani didn’t understand I think,” Rossi explained. “Because maybe I think there was some rain, but I don’t think of the yellow flag. So I continued to push. I am satisfied. I’m happy because we improve the bike from yesterday. This is the best race for sure where I enjoy more. And I think I have a chance to win. I want to try to make the first chicane very faster because on that part of the track I was quite strong, but exactly in that moment Dani overtake me and I lose a little bit. In the last laps Marc and Dani were able to keep a pace a little bit better than mine. So I stay there, I try to resist and it is good because in the end Dani tried to overtake and I gained the second position, but it was impossible to win. But anyway, good work. I’m happy and we have to try to continue like this.”
Pedrosa talked about the last-lap contact with Marquez.
“I tried my best in the last two laps,” said Pedrosa, who started from pole. “Immediately he start changing a little bit the lines to go in much tighter lines, so I found myself with less space and a couple of times almost really touching. And then in the last lap I try a little bit, but then I touched and I lost second position, but anyway I’m very happy with the performance and with the battle today. No regrets.”
The series next moves to the Assen TT in 13 days.
MotoGP results from Catalunya – Sunday, June 15, 2014
1. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 42m 56.914s
2. Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 42m 57.426s
3. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 42m 58.748s
4. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 43m 1.454s
5. Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) 43m 8.062s
6. Aleix Espargaro ESP NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 43m 11.127s
7. Pol Espargaro ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 43m 13.041s
8. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 43m 13.089s
9. Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 43m 14.954s
10. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 43m 21.695s
11. Yonny Hernandez COL Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 43m 34.067s
12. Scott Redding GBR Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RCV1000R) 43m 39.835s
13. Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 43m 40.213s
14. Michele Pirro ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 43m 52.071s
15. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 43m 56.105s
16. Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 43m 57.820s
17. Michael Laverty GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 43m 58.198s
18. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 44m 3.035s
19. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Racing (Avintia) 44m 22.109s
20. Michel Fabrizio ITA IodaRacing Project (ART) 44m 37.579s
Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing (Avintia) DNF
Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team (Desmosedici) DNF
Alvaro Bautista ESP Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) DNF
Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing (RCV1000R) DNF
1 Marc MARQUEZ Honda SPA 175
2 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 117
3 Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 112
4 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha SPA 78
5 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 71