Mugello was another history-maker of a weekend, with Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) stunning the field to take his first win in red and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) becoming the first rider to hit the milestone of 5000 premier class points. It also made more waves in the title fight and it’s the ‘Doctor’ now the closest challenger to leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – but Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) also gained a full 20 points on the lead after the number 93’s crash. That hangs a lot in the balance at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, and at a venue where many of the key contenders have won.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is modified in the final sector and resurfaced, too, but it’s the same all-time classic at heart. Graced with one of the most spectacular stadium sections on the calendar and always packed full with fans, the track is a favourite on and off track – nestled just north of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
So who’s the man with the best numbers? Rossi, as with many venues that have been such a mainstay on the calendar. It’s been seven premier class wins for the number 46 at Montmeló, the most famous of which was his duel against Lorenzo to the line in 2009 and the most recent of which was taken in 2016. Good numbers but for Lorenzo, likewise – and they both arrive with some good momentum.
The ‘Spartan’ will have the biggest swagger as the paddock arrives in Barcelona, with a victory in his pocket and a brand-new contract. He’s got four MotoGP™ wins at the track and has taken some dominant victories a la Mugello last time out. Could it be Lorenzo’s Land again this weekend? Or can last year’s winner, his teammate Andrea Dovizioso, take his second victory of the season?
The man who didn’t feature at the finish line in Italy will have something to say about that. Marquez was well within the fight at the front when he crashed at Mugello, and it’s even more motivation for the reigning Champion to now be riding at home. He won there in 2014 and although it’s not a signature venue for the number 93, three in a row before Mugello keep Marquez as a firm favourite. Teammate Dani Pedrosa has a great record at his home venue too, however – and with news from the ‘Little Samurai’ promised at Montmeló, how will that play out across the weekend?
The home heroes don’t stop there. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) is another who’ll have a fan club in the stands, and he wants to improve on his P8 from the front row in Italy. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) will be another wanting more with good form at the venue – including a previous pole – and he’s as close to a home rider as you can get, from Granollers just up the road. Likewise his brother Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who took more solid points for the Austrian factory last time out. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) just lost out to teammate Andrea Iannone in Mugello, too – can he turn the tables as the home turf becomes his?
And what of the fight for top Independent Team rider? Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) took top honours last time out but will want to fight for the overall win, as will Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) after a quieter weekend in Italy. Aleix Espargaro will want a top result, and the battle for Rookie of the Year could get close once again as Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) takes on Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).
Mugello was one man’s masterclass, but Barcelona should see the battle back on. Make sure to catch everything from Montmelo from Friday 15th June, before the race on Sunday 17th at 14:00 (GMT +2).