Catalunya MotoGP Results 2019
Christmas came early for defending champion Marc Marquez, when his Repsol Honda team-mate Jorge Lorenzo wiped out the main opposition on only the second of 24 laps of the 4.627-km Catalunya-Barcelona circuit.
Marquez had just nipped inside fast-starting Andrea Dovizioso’s Mission Winnow Ducati to take the lead into the notorious slow Turn Ten at the end of the back straight when bedlam began inches from his back wheel.
Lorenzo had made his first strong start on the Honda, and hard on the brakes he found his way blocked by Dovizioso. His front wheel locked and he was down – taking with him not only Dovi but also both factory Monster Yamahas, a for-once fast-away Maverick Vinales as well as Valentino Rossi.
He was apologetic afterwards and admitted it was his fault, but as a previous victim at the same corner, where riders go from near top speed to a second-gear swerve, he said: “It’s very difficult to go all race without making a mistake.”
From there Marquez was completely unchallenged as he powered on to his fourth win of the year, stretching his championship lead over the pointless Dovizioso in the process.
On a weekend of high temperatures, low grip and high tyre degradation, he was the only rider to choose the soft rear. “I wanted to push at the beginning, and then be constant for the race.” As it turned out, this was made all the easier for him.
This left a lively battle for second, with second factory Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci at the head of it, but under constant pressure from not only pole starter Fabio Quartararo (Monster Yamaha), but then all the harder from Alex Rins’s Ecstar Suzuki.
The faster Ducati held the clearly more nimble Suzuki at bay until the two made contact at the fast Turn Four as Rins pushed ahead on lap 14. Three laps later Petrucci powered alongside on the front straight and outbraked him into turn one. Next time round Rins tried the same move, only to almost hit the Ducati, and run right off the track as he narrowly recovered.
It was Quartararo who took profit, and immediately put a close and hard move on Petrucci to take second, holding it to the finish for his first MotoGP podium, as the Ducati rider suffered waning tyre grip.
Rins had rejoined in fifth, but by the finish he had got back ahead of his team-mate Joan Mir and on the last lap also saved fourth from Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati), who had his hands full with Mir.
More than five seconds back, Red Bull KTM’s Pol Espargaro took a third successive top ten. He was alone at the end, after being passed by Cal Crutchlow’s LCR Honda and held off second LCR rider Takaaki Nakagami and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha).
Morbidelli crashed out, leaving ninth to Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Ducati), some four seconds clear of Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM).
With a high rate of attrition, there were only 13 finishers, with Andrea Iannone (Aprilia) and a distant Miguel Oliveira (KTM) and Suzuki test rider Sylvain Guintoli in the points.
As well as the top four, Karel Abraham (Ducati) and Bradley Smith (Aprilia) crashed on the first lap, and team-mate Aleix Espargaro was hurt running over Smith’s bike, and retired. Pecco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) crashed out for the fourth race in a row; Crutchlow fell directly after passing Miller.
Marquez not has more than a race in hand in the championship, 140 points to Dovizioso’s 103. Rins is on 101, Petrucci 98 and Rossi 88.
Moto2 Race – 22 laps, 101.794 km
Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex) made it three in a row in Barcelona. It was a career-first hat-trick for the local hero, and gave him the championship lead, after earlier leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox Kalex) crashed out after a bad start.
It was a hard fight until the closing stages, with Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) jumping into an early lead from the front row, ahead of first-time pole starter Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP40 Kalex); while Marquez had to come through from sixth on the first lap, setting a new lap record on lap three.
He was up third, past front-row starter Sam Lowes (Federal Oils Kalex) by lap three, while Fernandez took the lead for a couple of laps. But before half distance Luthi was back in front, and Marquez poised on his back wheel.
After several threatening moves, Marc’s younger brother finally pounced into the first corner at the start of lap 14, and he was in control to the end, with Luthi finally dropping a couple of seconds behind with grip issues.
Speed Up-mounted rookie Fabio di Giannantonio had taken third ahead of Fernandez on lap ten, but was yet another victim of turn ten at the end of the back straight next time round. Meanwhile, his team-mate Jorge Navarro was coming back from a poor start, and took this from Fernandez with nine laps to go.
Rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Kalex) was fifth. Another six seconds away, Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex) finally prevailed in a fierce three-bike scrap, from Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex) and Xavi Vierge (EG-VDS Kalex).
Lowes was ninth, less than a second down; two seconds further Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX Kalex) was tenth.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) had to fight to the end for 11th, top KTM, getting narrowly ahead of Andrea Locatelli’s Italtrans Kalex.
Returned substitute rider Jonas Folger (Petronas Kalex) was 19th, one place ahead of Joe Roberts (American Racing KTM).
Marquez (111) heads Luthi (104) in a rejigged title table, from Navarro (89), Baldassarri (88) and Schrotter (73).
Moto3 Race – 21 laps, 97.167 km
Marco Ramirez took his first race win and the 12th in succession for a different winner after a Moto3 race of brutal action and widespread heartbreak.
The Leopard Honda rider had been in a 15-strong lead group throughout, and took the lead on the last lap at the end of the back straight, as Qatar GP winner Kaito Toba (Team Asia Honda) – leader for five of the last eight laps – fell under braking.
Rookie Toba, who had set a new lap record, was in tears in his pit soon afterwards; so too Alonso Lopez (EG Honda), dropped to fourth and denied a first podium only at the last gasp.
He was pushed out at the finish by a canny points leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM), who had been biding his time in an all-action race with many crashes, and teenage rookie Celestino Vietti (SKY VR46 KTM), the Ropssi protégé’s third podium in 11 starts.
Others sunk in gloom were erstwhile leaders Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Honda) and Italian GP winner Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda), both of whom suddenly slowed with rare engine problems; and Jaume Masia (Bester KTM), after forging through to a short-lived lead from a penalty-hit xxxth on the grid. He fell after a collision with CIP Green Power KTM rider Darryn Binder, who had also led, and was later himself taken down by pole starter Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Honda) – just a handful of a many crashes.
Second SKY VR46 rider Dennis Foggia was fifth; then Ai Ogura (Team Asia Honda), late-coming Romano Fenati (Snipers Honda) and Petronas Honda’s Ayumu Sasaki. Impressive wild card Ryusai Yamanaka (EG Honda) was ninth, with Jakub Kornfeil (Redox KTM) completing the top ten; the top 13 over the line in just over three seconds.
Canet extended his points lead from three points to 23, at 103 to non-scoring Dalla Porta’s 80. Niccolo Antonelli. 11th today, has 75, Vietti 68 and Masia 65.
Astonishing rookie Fabio Quartararo, less than two weeks off the operating table, claimed a scintillating second pole position of the season, after heading the first day of free practice, and underlining it in FP4.
The Petronas Yamaha rider not only outranked title leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), but also factory Monster Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales in third.
On pole at Jerez and second qualifier a fortnight ago at Mugello, the Frenchman underwent compartment-syndrome surgery directly after that race, after suffering worsening arm-pump problems. But while his one-lap pace was again unsurpassed, the fresh surgery throws doubt on his race pace, which has yet to match qualifying speed – though three top-tens and a best of seventh suggest it is not far away.
“I made two fast laps, and had a good overall pace this morning and yesterday. We still need to choose tyres, but we feel good,” he said. The 20-year-old took his only win here last year in Moto2.
The pole was lucky, however. After a subdued performance in free practice, Marquez was two-tenths faster on his best lap when he was obliged to perform one of his miracle saves. He was still quick enough for second. “My target was pole but I made a mistake. Now is the time
Vinales, in his third front-row start of the year but his first in five races, sounded a note of cautious optimism, saying “It’s been dark for me, but we have worked hard on race pace and maybe I have a bit more for tomorrow.”
He might need it. At the end of the session he was celebrating when he baulked Quartararo and another rider on a fast lap, and the incident was under investigation, with a potential grid-position penalty on the cards.
Vinales had pushed second satellite Petronas Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli to head row two from his mentor Valentino Rossi’s factory Yamaha. Morbidelli was back after being stretchered off from a heavy morning crash, and then having to come through from Q1.
Andrea Dovizioso was top Ducati, completing row two; Mission Winnow team-mate Danilo Petrucci heads row three from Alex Rins’s Ecstar Suzuki and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda).
Rins, overcoming his qualifying bogey for only his third time this year in Q2, had been on target for pole when he slid off unhurt.
Jorge Lorenzo was tenth to lead row four, looking stronger with ergonomic modifications to his Repsol Honda. Alongside him, Joan Mir (Ecstar Suzuki) was in his best grid place this year, also through from Q1; with Red Bull KTM’s Pol Espargaro 12th.
As usual this year, times were close, with the top dozen easily inside one second.
Pecco Bagnaia was best of the rest, one place ahead of Pramac Ducati team-mate Jack Miller, who had been fastest in the early stages of Q1 before slipping off. An on-form Karel Abraham (Avintia Ducati) completes the fifth row; earlier
challenger Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) leads the sixth from Aleix Espargaro’s top Aprilia.
Ultra-close times in the middle class made something of a lottery of the front two rows. The top three was covered by 0.029 of a second; the top five were inside one tenth, and 13 riders inside half a second.
The winning ticket went to first-timer Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HB20 Kalex), from veteran Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) and Briton Sam Lowes (Federal Oils Kalex).
“It’s amazing. I had a good pace this morning, but not for one lap. I have to thank Balda [his team-mate, title leader Lorenzo Baldassarri], because I was able to follow him.
The two Speed Up chassis led row two, Jorge Navarro from class rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio, both a whisker away from the front row, and a similar distance clear of Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex), winner of the last two races.
Baldassarri heads row three from rookie Nico Bulega (SKY VR46 Kalex) and Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Kalex); his rookie team-mate Enea Bastianini was tenth, ahead of Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex) and Marcel Schrotter (
Bo Bendsneyders’s NTS was 14th, Jorge Martin (17th) was on the top KTM. Both were through from Q1, with Martin’s Red Bull team-mate Brad Binder failing to escape, and mired in 19th on the grid.
Returned substitute rider Jonas Folger (Petronas Kalex) was 23rd; American Joe Roberts (American Racing Kalex) 29th.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Honda) survived the end-of-session rush to retain his first pole of the season, heading a Honda top four.
Team Asia rookie Ai Ogura was second, his second front-row start, after coming through from Q1, slotting in almost three tenths ahead of Mugello’s first-time winner Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda).
Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Honda) was also through from Q1, to lead the second row from points leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM). Another KTM completed row two, for Albert Arenas (Sama KTM), another through from Q1.
Alonso Lopez (EG Honda) and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Honda) sandwich Jaume Masia (Bester KTM) on row three. Dalla Porta crashed in his bid for the front row. Le Mans winner John McPhee (Petronas Honda) completes the top ten.
Maverick Vinales has been dropped three grid positions after qualifying on the front row for tomorrow’s Catalunyan GP, after riding slowly and baulking other riders at the end of the qualifying session.
The decision by the panel of stewards promotes Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) to his second front-row start of the season, and puts Vinales at the far end of the second row, now led by his Monster Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi, from factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso.
Vinales admitted he had mistakenly thought he had taken the chequered flag, and was doing wheelies and waving to the crowd. He realised his error as pole qualifier Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) and second factory Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci whistled past either side of him at high speed.
He was quick to apologise to a gesticulating Quartararo, but said later: “I know I made a mistake, but I am not the only rider who has done that, and if I am to be punished, then other riders should also.”
KTM Moto2 Still Seeking Handling
KTM’s Moto2 agonies continued at Catalunya, with both riders in the official Red Bull-backed team ditching the latest chassis that arrived at Le Mans, and reverting to the chatter-prone first version.
Class rookie Jorge Martin narrowly managed to get into Q2 and ended up 17th, two places down on Iker Lecuona, on the only other KTM in Q2. Top rider Brad Binder will start from 19th.
When the new chassis arrived, Binder explained that while the chattering was improved, rear traction disappeared rapidly as the tyre wore. The problem was insoluble, and the earlier chassis preferable in spite of its flaws.
The official team were hoping for a chassis upgrade before the Dutch TT in a fortnight. KTM are the sole constructor using a steel-tube chassis instead of the aluminium beam, and while this serves well enough in Moto3 and to a point also in MotoGP, the unit built for the new Moto2 Triumph engine has missed the mark.
New Helmet Regulations Leave Some Riders in Quandary
The FIM’s new helmet homologation regulation came into force at Catalunya – and left several riders obliged to abandon their contracted hats for unbranded makes that have been approved. In MotoGP, those affected were Dovizioso, Bagnaia, Abraham and Aleix Espargaro.
New Swingarm for Aprilia
Aprilia has joined the move to a carbon-fibre swing-arm, among a continuing programme of improvements for the lacklustre MotoGP bike. Second rider Andrea Iannone used the black rear suspension at Catalunya on Friday; while test rider Bradley Smith was on hand for the race, for Monday’s test, and for further private tests at the same track on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Luigi Brenni Honored
Popular former FIM road-race commission chief Luigi Brenni, who won popular support in the 1980s at the height of the battle with new teams’ association IRTA, was the guest of honour at more celebrations for motorcycle grand prix racing’s 70th birthday at Catalunya.
Brenni was highly regarded within the paddock, as a lone FIM official taking the side of teams and riders at a time when they were at loggerheads with federation policy. The federation had squashed the proposed breakaway World Series of 1980, but Brenni was able to institute many reforms.
The process of reform was later completed with the FIM leased GP racing’s rights to Dorna in the late 1990s.
He joined Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, new FIM president Jorge Viegas and IRTA chief Mike Trimby at a special conference, where Viegas presented a special booklet to celebrate the anniversary.
Trimby raised a bitter laugh and put things in proportion by saying: “I’ve been in the GP paddock since 1982 … and this is the first time I have received anything from the FIM.”
According to German-language web-site Speedweek.com, Trimby continued: “We hope to find a better relationship with the FIM under the new FIM president. I wish for a relationship, as we once had with Luigi Brenni. I’m proud to be sitting next to him today. He has done more for driver safety and the development of the sport than any other FIM person in the past.”
There was a sour atmosphere also between the grandstanding new FIM president and Dorna, only a few weeks after Viegas had been obliged to rapidly back-track on remarks in an interview. He had deplored the fact that Dorna ran both MotoGP and World Superbikes, but had to issue an embarrassing statement to the opposite, after he was reminded that Dorna had a binding contract to this effect with the FIM.”
Ducati Factory Squad to Expand?
Ducati will be obliged to up their quota of factory bikes from three to four next year – or risk losing the services of top satellite-team rider Jack Miller, or his current team-mate Pecco Bagnaia.
This is the likely outcome of the contest in the first races of this year for the second factory-team seat alongside Andrea Dovizioso for 2020.
Ducati made no secret that they were weighing the options – it would either be current incumbent Danilo Petrucci or Pramac team rider Miller. In the earlier races, the Australian seemed stronger, but Petrucci’s win a fortnight ago at his home Mugello GP tipped the scales heavily in his favour.
An announcement is imminent.
Miller meantime has confirmed he would be happy to stay with Pramac, where he currently rides a third factory GP19 like that of Dovi and Petrucci … but only of he is clearly the number-one rider.
Meanwhile, rookie Bagnaia’s two-year contract with Pramac specifies a factory bike for 2020.
Said Miller: “I’m happy to stay, but I must have the right package. I think I deserve it. I’ve done my apprenticeship, and I need to be on a factory bike to fight with these guys.” The Australian has claimed three top-four finishes including apodium at CotA, plus a front-row start in France – but spoiled his record by crashing out of the Mugello race.
Moto2 champion Bagnaia has had a somewhat disappointing start to his MotoGP year after making a strong debut in pre-season tests. Although ninth at CotA, he has scored points only one other time, and has crashed out of the last three in a row.
The spectre of dangerous dawdling arose again in Moto3, and several hours after qualifying was over the grid was redrawn, with penalties for seven riders.
They were mainly incurred in FP3, the crucial session to determine who would go straight into Q2, and mainly for “riding slowly in three or more sectors” in excess of the 112-percent limit of fastest sector time, and “in addition … riding in a slow manner”. In all cases, the sanction followed a previous warning.
Most of the miscreants were already at the back of the grid, with Denis Foggia, Kazuki Masaki, Filip Salac (12 grid positions) and Vicente Perez (six) not having made it out of Q1.
The punishment was more severe for Jaume Masia, dropped 12 places from eighth, Andrea Migno (from 11th) and Nico Antonelli, already in trouble with two crashes in !2 leaving him 17th.
Super-rookie Fabio Quartararo has confounded the old hands again, with a blazing Friday lap that puts him on top of the sheets. Pole starter at Jerez and on the front row in Italy, the satellite-team Petronas Yamaha rider repeated previous free practice form by snitching top slot in the dying seconds … by a margin of almost three tenths of a second.
Catalunya MotoGP Results 2019
All the more impressive because the end-of-session splurge had 19 riders all within the same second.
Near the back of that pack in the afternoon session, Marc Marquez, placed 17th … though his better morning time, set on a slower and dirtier track, lifted him to ninth overall, good enough to be straight into Q2.
But with good weather forecast, Marquez had the luxury of working on race pace, along with several other riders. This left some big names out of the top ten, including CotA winner Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki), Repsol Honda new boy Jorge Lorenzo, Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha) and long-time afternoon session leader Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati).
It was Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) tipped off the top by Quartararo’s late charge, and he had previously deposed Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha), who had knocked Rins off the perch.
But such was the frenzy of the late action that Rins ended up 11th.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) was third; Red Bull KTM’s Pol Espargaro fourth, and rookie Pecco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) fifth, ahead of Morbidelli.
Valentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha) bounced back from his dire Italian GP (where he qualified 18th, and crashed out at the back in the race) to secure seventh, ahead of Mugello winner Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati), riders now separated by mere hundredths.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) was tenth overall, thanks to Marquez’s faster morning time.
The close times and the importance of getting into the top ten on combined times throw heavy emphasis on tomorrow morning’s FP3 session.
It was late-afternoon heat and a conservative tyre supply that meant most Moto2 times came from the morning session, with veteran Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) hold top spot ahead of the winner of the last two races, Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex), with a lap time more than a second off the track record set with 600cc Honda-powered bike.
Third among the dominant Kalexes in the 765 Triumph-powered class was Jorge Navarro (Speed Up), bouncing back from a crash as well as a black flag, after a front-suspension sensor came adrift.
His team-mate Fabio Di Giannantonio was 12th on the second Speed Up; while Brad Binder (Red Bull) put the best KTM 11th; the only significant interruptions to the Kalex brigade.
Alonso Fernandez was fastest in the afternoon, the time putting the Flexbox HP40 rider fourth overall, ahead of rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Kalex), Xavi Vierge (EG-VDS Kalex) and Nico Bulega (SKY VR46 Kalex)
Australian Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex_ was eighth, then the next two to go faster in the afternoon, points leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) and Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex) tenth.
Times were close, with the top 20 inside one second, and returned former race winner Jonas Folger, substituting in the Petronas Kalex team, 20th.
American Joe Roberts (American Racing Kalex) was one of several fallers, placed 30th overall.
Spots of rain at the end of FP2 prevented the usual end-of-session rush for Moto3, with six of the top ten times set in the morning … including EG-Honda rider Alonso Lopez’s 1m 49.167, topping the lit. This was only three tenths off the track’s best time, and heading an ultra-close pack, with 22 riders within the first second.
Honda held the high ground, with the top five places: second EG rider Sergio Garcia second, then Leopard’s Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58).
Darryn Binder (CIP KTM) was sixth, then high-profile rookie Can Oncu (Red Bull KTM); with Romano Fentai (Honda), Albert Arenas (KTM) and Nico Antonelli (Honda) completing the top ten.
70th Birthday of Motorcycle Grand Prix
The Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship, latterly known as MotoGP, reached its 70th birthday on Thursday, June 13th. And what better way to celebrate the journey from 1949 to the new century than in the social media?
In fact, the pre-race press conference’s regular slot for social media questions achieved a rare and worthy dignity, with a question to all riders: Which of the past heroes would they like to race against? There were some good answers.
- Marc Marquez: “Mick Doohan, because he was very strong and aggressive.”
- Andrea Dovizioso: “Wayne Rainey. His style was extremely clean, and it was nice to see him winning.”
- Alex Rins: “Kevin Schwantz, because his style was amazing, and those 500 two-stroke bikes were unbelievable.”
- Danilo Petrucci: “Libero Liberati [1957 World Champion on a Gilera]. He was from my home town, Termi, and is a hero there. I would like to feel how racing was in 1957.”
- Maverick Vinales: “Kevin Schwantz also. He was really good on the brakes; the last lap would be interesting.”
- Aleix Espargaro: “I love the 500 two-strokes. I would say Alex Criville, the first of the Spanish champions.”
- Aron Canet: “My hero – Marco Simoncelli.”
Lorenzo Visits Japan
Jorge Lorenzo spent the break after the Italian GP with Honda in Japan in three days of intensive work and meetings, as he continues his so far barely successful quest to adapt to the RC213V on which team-mate and former rival Marquez is serially successful.
Lorenzo’s difficulties were compounded by injury at the end of last season and during the winter, and while his best qualifying this year has been eighth (at Le Mans) and he has scored points in every race but one, he has yet to finish in the top ten, and is clearly far from confident in a bike he finds both physically small and difficult on corner entry.
Speaking on the eve of the Catalunyan GP, Lorenzo told press that talks with HRC engineers had been wide-ranging, and while ergonomic differences were already coming, other areas would take longer.
Changes to the seat and dummy fuel tank at Ducati had proved key to the long-time Yamaha rider, with improved comfort and ease of control returning him to the winner’s circle.
Lorenzo has already been using different seat configurations at Honda. The first new modification arrived in Catalunya – a dummy tank with wing-like projections at the top on each side, giving him greater purchase with his knees (Jack Miller uses a similar tank design on his Pramac Ducati).
“There will be some more pieces for Assen [the next race], both other things will take more time. This is going to be a long process,” he said.
As well as ergonomics and other features of the bike, he continued, “I can also work on my riding style and understanding”.
He had been at his best in the last of his nine years with Yamaha. The same was true of Marquez, who has been riding the Honda RC213V since 2012. “Crutchlow is in his fifth year. They know secrets of the bike that I don’t.”
He was working particularly in improving his braking, a strong point for both the mentioned riders.
Pedrosa Set to Test
Dani Pedrosa will join the regular KTM riders – Pol Espargaro and the increasingly flummoxed Johann Zarco – at official post-race tests on Monday at Catalunya, after having his first outing on the Austrian machine at a private Brno test in the last week.
The retired former Honda rider kept his lips zipped, declining to make any comment on the bike, but did say that he was sufficiently recuperated from the stem-cell collarbone surgery that had delayed his debut as KTM’s top tester.
Zarco is struggling to get to grips with the RC16 that team-mate Pol Espargaro has taken to four top-ten finishes this year, including a best-yet sixth at Le Mans. In the overheated paddock atmosphere, rumours that he is planning to quit the project at the end of the season continue, although one that he was going to join Honda in World Superbikes has now been put to bed.
Zarco now has the all-carbon-fibre swing-arm that Pedrosa was already using, but his first day with it was marred by yet another confidence-sapping high-speed crash in the afternoon, and he was placed 13th on combined Friday times, with Pol Espargaro fourth.
The satellite-team riders, also in Red Bull colours, are likewise struggling. Class rookie Miguel Oliveira was 20th, and Hafizh Syahrin 22nd.
Quartararo Solid Coming Off of Arm-Pump Surgery
Fabio Quartararo’s top free practice time came in spite of fresh arm-pump surgery following the Italian GP, ten days before climbing back on the Petronas Yamaha.
The compartment-syndrome repair to his right arm came after problems that surfaced last year in Moto2 became more severe over the past two races – and the French class rookie elected to press ahead with the repair in advance of the technically more challenging Dutch TT at Assen, where last year he suffered.
“I’m not 100 percent,” he told Crash.net on race eve. “But I’m feeling quite good. The important thing is that the FIM declared me fit to race.”
At the first round in Qatar “I had a small alert, in Le Mans for the last ten laps, and Mugello half the race.”
His favourite tattoo had survived the surgery, he noted.
Compartment syndrome, related to tendonitis and sometimes called “racers’ wrist” has haunted the sport for more than three decades, as loads on the riders’ arms increase in proportion to greater tyre grip and more powerful brakes.
No Suzuka Eight Hour for Nakagami
Honda have acceded to potential top independent rider Takaaki Nakagami’s request to be released from riding at the Suzuka 8 Hours race, where last year he was in the second-placed team.
Training for the event and the race itself involved frequent gruelling trips between Japan and Europe, and left the Japanese rider exhausted while his rivals enjoyed the summer break.
Nakagami, who claimed a career-best fifth on the year-old LRC Honda RC213V at Mugello two weeks ago, is just two points behind Cal Crutchlow and Jack Miller in the fight to be top independent-team rider.
Folger Back on Track
Jonas Folger made a racing return at Catalunya, after being released from testing duties by Yamaha for a substitute ride for the Petronas Moto2 team.
The German, five times a GP winner in the smaller classes, unexpectedly left racing at the end of his first premier-class season in 2017, and was subsequently diagnosed as suffering from the debilitating genetic Epstein-Barr virus.
Before being hired to test for Yamaha this year, Folger was chief development rider for the now-dominant Kalex chassis for the newly Triumph-powered Moto2 class.
This should give the 25-year-old a good leg-up in his racing return, as substitute for injured Petronas-Kalex regular Khairul Idham Pawi, who has been out since the start of the European season. Until now, his seat had been taken by veteran Mattia Pasini, but the Italian broke his collarbone in a motocross accident after the Italian GP.
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