Marc Marquez extended his lead in the 2019 MotoGP world championship in a dramatic Catalan Grand Prix that saw his main rivals crash out.
The race was defined by a lap two incident that saw Jorge Lorenzo crash and take out Andrea Dovizioso, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi in a domino effect. The incident gave Marquez breathing space at the front, as he took the win from impressive 20-year-old French rookie Fabio Quartararo and Italian GP winner Danilo Petrucci. British hopeful Cal Crutchlow had been in contention for a podium slot in the final laps of the race, but was another to crash out, six laps from home.
Indeed the Barcelona race saw numerous retirements, with only 13 riders finishing. The opening lap saw Aprilia test rider Bradley Smith clash with team-mate Aleix Espargaro, an incident that saw both men retire, before the Lorenzo crash that saw the three stars skittled by his wayward Repsol Honda. Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin, Pecco Bagnaia and Franco Morbidelli were others who failed to take the chequered flag.
Marquez’ win, allied to Dovizioso’s failure to score, was the Spaniard extend his lead to 37 points. With brother Alex winning the Moto2 race, it was a good day for the Marquez family, as Marc explained: “I chose the soft rear to try and push in the beginning and to try to not overheat the tyre but to try to be constant and fast. All of the Repsol Honda Team did a really good job this weekend; we worked hard and prepared well for the race. The team told me something had happened to Dovi, so I just kept pushing and focusing on my own race. We had the perfect strategy regardless and I want to thank all the fans who came out. Gracias! It’s always special when you can celebrate winning together with your brother, Alex rode well this weekend!”
Lorenzo was full of regret for his mistake, admitting that he was at fault and telling journalists that he wished that he had ‘crashed on his own’. After the race he said: “You don’t have any options if you brake a little bit too late here, like happened with me. It was my fault, my mistake and I apologise. It was really unfortunate to take out Dovi, Maverick and Valentino – it wasn’t their fault obviously, it was mine. The only thing that matters today is the crash, I took out three riders unfortunately but if we think aside from this it was a weekend where we were able to make a step forward and I was consistent throughout.”
Rossi was scathing of the slow corner at which the incident happened, likening it to a supermarket car park, but Yamaha boss Maio Meregalli was at least able to see the positives despite both his riders being wiped out: “It’s a very disappointing and difficult-to-accept end to an otherwise good weekend for our team,” he said. “It’s especially cruel because there was nothing Vale and Maverick could have done to avoid it, and we were quite confident that we would be able to get a good result here today. We definitely started the race with a completely different aim than the outcome we got. It’s very unfortunate, but Grand Prix racing isn’t always fair. All we can do is look at the positives. Both our riders were in the mix to fight for a podium. It shows we are on the way up again, so we are really looking forward to the next round in Assen.”
Dovizioso added: “After a great start, I took the lead and I was in a strategic position to ride the race we had planned. The rear tyre still wasn’t perfectly heated up so I wasn’t pushing the pace yet but, considering how the race eventually unfolded and the rhythm shown by other riders, I believe we could have been contenders for sure. I prefer not to comment about the incident, but the race still was entirely up for grabs at that point. Tomorrow we have another important test to keep improving our base, and we’ll try to make the most of it to bounce back immediately at Assen.”
The Dutch TT takes place at TT Circuit Assen in two weeks’ time, on the weekend of 28-30 June.