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The one question on everyone’s lips as we head to the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya is, can anyone stop Jorge Lorenzo?
The Movistar Yamaha rider has won the last three races in a row at a canter, and has looked simply untouchable, although he currently occupies second in the MotoGP™ World Championship standings, six points behind his teammate Rossi.
Lorenzo has three premier class victories to his name at the Circuit de Barcelona, which will host the seventh round of the 2015 MotoGP™ Championship, and finished last year’s race in fourth.
Rossi is the most successful rider at the Barcelona track ever since it was introduced to the World Championship calendar in 1992, with nine victories to his name across all classes (1x125cc, 2x250cc, 1x500cc & 5xMotoGP), although the last of these came back in 2009. The Italian finished second in the race last year, just 0.5s behind the winner Marc Marquez.
Rossi has not finished off the podium yet this season, but if he is to stop Lorenzo’s charge, and maintain his lead in the World Championship standings, he will need to improve his Saturday performances. Rossi has effectively been giving Lorenzo a head start in recent races due to his poor qualifying performances, and will need to address this is if he wants to win his 10th World Championship title this year.
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez is facing the biggest crisis of his career so far. A nightmare weekend in Mugello saw him take no points for second time this year as he crashed out of the race. The Spaniard has identified a number of issues with his RC213V, as it appears as though his team has been treading water while his rivals have made giant strides. Marquez, the winner in Catalunya last year, will be hoping to turn his season around in front of his passionate home support and reduce the 49 point gap to Rossi in the championship standings. Marquez’ teammate Dani Pedrosa finished a comfortable fourth in Mugello, and will be confident of a good result in a race where he has not finished off the podium since 2011.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone will be looking to build on his first MotoGP™ pole position, and his best ever race result (second) last time out in Mugello. The Italian has had an extra two weeks to recover from the arm injury that was affecting him in Italy, and has won at the Barcelona circuit before in Moto2™ (2012).
His teammate Andrea Dovizioso will be looking to bounce back after he was forced to retire from the Italian Grand prix with a rear sprocket issue. He has tasted success at the Circuit de Barcelona before, winning the 2006 250cc race, and finishing third on the Tech 3 Yamaha in MotoGP™ in 2012. Dovizioso has stood on the podium in four of the six races so far this season, and is currently third in the title standings, 25 points behind Rossi.
Team Suzuki Ecstar have announced they will be bringing an engine update to the Catalan Grand Prix, which will come as an added bonus to riders Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales who both felt they made a major breakthrough in their chassis set-ups in Italy. Espargaro will continue his recovery from the ligament surgery he had on his right thumb after his huge Free Practice crash at Le Mans, and finished last years race at the circuit in sixth. His teammate Viñales will be looking to follow up his best ever MotoGP™ result last time out at Mugello (7th) with another good performance, at a circuit he has won at before in Moto3™ (2012).
The battle for the top Satellite rider took a further twist in Italy, as CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow crashed out of the race with just three laps to go, allowing his compatriot Bradley Smith to cross the line in fifth and open up a 10 point lead in the championship standings. Crutchlow dislocated his ankle in the crash, and will have to pass a medical inspection by before he can race.
Pol Espargaro closed the gap to Crutchlow to just two points, as he followed his teammate Smith home in sixth in Italy, while Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Scott Redding knows he needs to show his true potential on his Factory Spec RC213V, after another finish outside the top ten last time out.
In the Open class, Athina Forward Racing’s Loris Baz (10pts) closed the gap to the leader, Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera (16pts), to just six points after taking the victory in Mugello. Barbera underwent compartment syndrome surgery after the Italian Grand Prix to alleviate arm pump symptoms and will not be 100% in Barcelona.
The Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya officially starts with the Press Conference on Thursday at 17:00 local time, while the MotoGP™ on-track action kicks off on Friday at 9:55am local time in Barcelona.
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