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Episode 19 of the MotoGP™ Podcast is now available as hosts Matt Dunn and Fran Wyld are joined by John Hopkins to dissect the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, with motogp.com pitlane reporter Simon Crafar and Team Suzuki Ecstar test rider Sylvain Guintoli featuring.
The Catalan GP’s hottest talking point was the Lap 2 crash that involved four World Champions: Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team), Mission Winnow Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and the two Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP machines of Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi. Hopkins shares his view on the race-defining crash:
“The race itself, leading up into it and before the start… it had all the ingredients of being a legendary race. I mean, it looked like it could have been one of the races of the season, considering Mugello was as good as it was. But unfortunately with Lorenzo’s manoeuvre, it was basically a race decider right there with it taking out a lot of the top contenders.”
The former MotoGP™ rider has sympathy for the five-time World Champion though, describing the mistake as ‘normal’ as it’s something every rider has done at some point during their career – including the American.
“It was a normal mistake to make but it just had horrendous consequences and unfortunately I’ve made very similar mistakes in my career. Back in Motegi in turn one, I basically wiped out 3-5 riders just making a similar mistake, I missed my braking marker by a slight amount and then you just collide with another rider. When everyone’s so tightly packed in those first few laps, that’s the problem, it tends to take out quite a few riders.”
Hopkins was particularly saddened to see Viñales crash after the Spaniard started a race better than he had done all season, despite a three-place grid penalty.
“He was right there from the start, making himself known right there in the front few places,” commented Hopkins about Viñales. “And unfortunately, so was Lorenzo - considering the season he’s had - he was so anxious to be up the front of the field and he was finally there, being where he knows he’s capable of being. The same goes for Viñales.
“I think he’d definitely have been up there right until the end in that race, he just seemed so motivated and really strong. In the past he’s struggled at the beginning of races but always has that amazing pace at the end so it’s all could’a, would’a, should’a. But it’s great to see him up there in the first few laps. I’m hoping that’ll continue into the next few races.”
Hopkins also shares his thoughts on Fabio Quartararo’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) maiden MotoGP™ podium, the phenomenal rookie finishing second behind race-winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
“It’s getting the monkey off his back. He’s been so close and there abouts in these opening races, he’s had such incredible pace all throughout the course of the weekend but then once it gets to the race, for whatever reason, he just seems to not be right there and have the pace he’s shown already.
“I think it’s a matter of riding too cautious, making little mistakes, and all these small things you can tend to make a huge mole-hill out of. I was exactly the same way when I was fighting for my first MotoGP™ podium, I think now that he’s got the podium, he’s going to be off - he’ll set his sails and we’re gonna see him get quite a few more podiums from now on. He’ll have that little bit more aggression to make moves that before he might have been a little bit hesitant to make, I think he’s now made them - he knows he has the pace to fight with the guys at the front, he knows he can race with them and beat them in some cases. It was awesome to see him get his first podium.”
To listen to more of Hopkins, in addition to Crafar and what life is like as a test rider by Suzuki’s Guintoli, click here!
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