Catalan GP Race Results 1. Andrea DOVIZIOSO (4) Ducati Team DUCATI 2. Marc MARQUEZ (93), Repsol Honda Team HONDA 3. Dani PEDROSA (26) Repsol Honda Team HONDA 4. Jorge LORENZO (99) Ducati Team DUCATI 5. Johann ZARCO (5) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 6. Jonas FOLGER (94) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 7. Alvaro BAUTISTA (19) Pull&Bear Aspar Team DUCATI 8. Valentino ROSSI (46) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA 9. Hector BARBERA (8) Reale Avintia Racing DUCATI 10. Maverick VIÑALES (25) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA 11. Cal CRUTCHLOW (35) LCR Honda HONDA 12. Loris BAZ (76) Reale Avintia Racing DUCATI 13. Scott REDDING (45) Octo Pramac Racing DUCATI 14. Karel ABRAHAM (17) Pull&Bear Aspar Team DUCATI 15. Tito RABAT (53) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS HONDA 16. Andrea IANNONE (29) Team Suzuki Ecstar SUZUKI 17. Silvain GUINTOLI (50) Team Suzuki Ecstar SUZUKI 18. Pol ESPARGARO (44) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 19. Sam LOWES (22) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA DNF: Danilo PETRUCCI (9) OCTO Pramac Racing DUCATI DNF: Jack MILLER (43) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS HONDA DNF: Aleix ESPARGARO (41) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA

Tire choice was top of mind and on the tip of every tongue today in Barcelona in the scorching heat leading up to Round 7 of the MotoGP World Championship. Track temperature at race time mid-afternoon under sunny skies was officially 129 degrees Fahrenheit. Of the 22 riders who started the 25-lap race, 11 picked the medium front Michelin, while the other 11 opted for the hard—an intriguing 50/50 mix. At the rear, only five chose the hard, the majority selecting the medium.

All of the Yamaha riders, including last year's race winner, Valentino Rossi, were among the latter. On Saturday, Rossi argued that the medium wouldn't last race distance, adding that he couldn't reach competitive lap times on the harder option. What to do, indeed. On pole, Dani Pedrosa chose a hard front and a medium rear, while the Ducatis of Jorge Lorenzo and Danilo Petrucci went hard front and rear. Mugello winner Andrea Dovizioso, starting from inside the third row, followed Pedrosa's example.

“I had a great feeling before the start because I knew that we could be very competitive,” race winner Andrea Dovizioso said, “not because we were the fastest out there on the track, but because yesterday we worked well to prepare for the race. It was a strategic race more than anything else, and we were good at interpreting the limits of the track and the tires.”Photo: Ducati Team

“I was able to save the front tire because my acceleration was better and I never braked really hard. I won without pushing 100 percent. This has never happened to me.”—Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team

Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosa opted to stay on the bike and get good points. “I tried to lead the race,” he said, “to stay on front, but I could see [Andrea] Dovizioso coming on the straight, cutting the gas to not get too close, saving the tires a little bit better than me. I tried to save them all the way but I just couldn’t do it enough.”Photo: Michelin Motorsports

Pedrosa got away first while Marc Marquez, starting fourth, and Petrucci, swinging across the field from the opposite side of the grid, collided. Both remained upright and Marquez entered Turn 1 third behind Pedrosa and Lorenzo, Alvaro Bautista and Aleix Espargaro in hot pursuit. Lorenzo dove under Pedrosa in Turn 5 to take the lead, mirroring last weekend’s race at Mugello. Dovizioso moved into fifth behind Espargaro, and Rossi picked up two spots to 11th. Marquez got through on Pedrosa in the final sector, relegating his teammate to third.

With Espargaro just outside podium contention, Spanish riders controlled the top four spots at the completion of Lap 1. Dovizioso powered past the Aprilia into Turn 1, bringing the second factory Ducati into the picture. Top Yamaha? Jonas Folger in sixth and, moments later, fifth. Folger was the first rider to dip into the 1:45s; his 1:45.969—a new circuit lap record—would be the fastest lap of the race and the lone sub-1:46. Rossi, circulating quickly, as well, was up to 10th, five spots ahead of Movistar teammate Vinales.

JL99 and MM93
“This second win in a row for Ducati is another fantastic result for the team,” said Jorge Lorenzo, fourth. “As for me, it’s the first time I have finished the race less than 10 seconds away from the winner, as well as being the first time I have started from the front row and have been in the lead for a few laps. This means we are constantly improving.”Photo: Ducati Team

After four consecutive mid-1:46s, Lorenzo dropped to a 1:47.8, and Marquez moved in for the kill. He took the lead in Turn 10, balking Lorenzo, who, within just four corners, was relegated from first to fourth behind Marquez, Pedrosa, and Dovizioso. Folger was also quickly past Lorenzo, who ran wide in Turn 10, holding the door wide open for Petrucci. At the front, Pedrosa took the lead from Marquez entering Turn 1 with 18 long laps to go. Dovizioso was right there, as well, with Folger a few meters adrift.

Petrux and Folger at Catalan GP
Danilo Petrucci (9) and Jonas Folger (94)Photo: Michelin Motorsports

Espargaro was the first casualty, his Aprilia letting go after six laps in the top eight. Dovizioso and Marquez traded positions as Lorenzo came under pressure from Bautista and Rossi in eighth. Zarco appeared, as well, passing first Rossi then Lorenzo. With 13 laps to go, Petrucci was the only rider in the top five with a hard-compound rear tire. Michelin predicted the medium would suffer a step down in performance by mid-race. Sure enough, high 1:46s became low 1:47s. One lap later, Jack Miller crashed, unhurt, out of the top 10.

A winner last year at Catalunya (see the 2016 race report HERE), Valentino Rossi was disappointed with his performance on Sunday. "We knew it was going to be a difficult weekend, as we had some problems during the practice sessions due to the temperature of the asphalt and the level of grip. Tomorrow, we have an important test, where we will try many things."Photo: Movistar Yamaha
Movistar Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales had his worse race finish, 10th, of the season. “There are some days you just have to get the points and that’s what we did,” he said. “We have to be happy with the six points we took today and at least we are still first in the championship.”Photo: Movistar Yamaha

Lap after lap, Dovizioso pulled close, if not alongside, Pedrosa in the braking zone for Turn 1. The Italian finally eased past the Spaniard in that corner with nine to go, opening a slight gap by dropping back into the high 1:46s. Marquez recognized Dovizioso’s strategy and immediately passed Pedrosa. Zarco did the same to Bautista, putting both Tech 3 Yamahas in the top six with eight laps left. Herve Poncharal’s decision to put a pair of premier-class rookies on his ex-Rossi/Lorenzo M1s gains merit with every race.

Two laps later, Dovizioso had opened a nearly one-second gap on Marquez, with Pedrosa fading. Taking advantage of his hard rear tire, Petrucci swung around Folger, moving into fourth, albeit not within reach of Pedrosa and another podium finish. After slipping all the way down to eighth, Lorenzo, circulating at podium pace, made a powerful comeback, passing Bautista, Zarco, Folger, and, with less than four laps to go, Petrucci. At the front, Dovizioso continued to expand his lead. Marquez was unable to respond.

In a final twist, Petrucci crashed in Turn 5, handing fifth and sixth places to Zarco and Folger. Over the course of 23 laps, Dovizioso’s lap times ranged from a best of 1:46.280 on Lap 3 to 1:47.942—no 1:48s, unlike the others. At the line, margin of victory over Marquez was 3.5 seconds. With his victory—the first back-to-back wins for Ducati since 2010—the 31-year-old Dovizioso moves within seven points of series leader Vinales. Marquez and Pedrosa are third and fourth, respectively, in the overall standings.

Defending MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez
Rollercoaster championship: “At the start, I was really lucky when [Danilo] Petrucci hit me, as the contact was completely lateral," said Marc Marquez. "Otherwise, it would have been a disaster. When I finally passed Dani [Pedrosa] for second place, I tried to push to close on [Andrea] Dovizioso. In a couple of laps, I realized that I couldn’t—today was Dovi’s day—so I settled for second.”Photo: Michelin Motorsports

“To manage the track, the grip, the temperature was difficult,” Dovizioso admitted. “The tire dropped a lot, but I had the speed to stay in front. Mugello was something special, but to confirm here… For sure, we did not expect [this victory] because the test was really bad. But we realized the condition of the track was so bad and the consumption of the tire was so high, so we didn’t have to be focused on the speed. We weren’t the fastest on the track, but we were focused on riding the bike in the heat with a used tire.”

“When we started the race, nobody had grip, and nobody was able to push. Everybody had to save the tire a lot, so I was in a really good situation from the first lap. Dani rode very well. I was behind him and I saved the rear tire in the same way. But I was able to save the front tire because my acceleration was better and I never braked really hard. I won without pushing 100 percent. This has never happened to me.” About the title chase, he added simply, “I don’t have any pressure about the championship.”

Marc Marquez crash
One of five falls for the defending champion at Barcelona.Photo: MotoGP

Marquez overcame an extraordinary number of crashes this weekend—plus a trip-and-fall in pit lane—to score 20 crucial points. “Really difficult weekend for us, but I never gave up,” he said. “I just push, push, push. After five crashes, it was not easy. It was difficult to sleep last night, but in the morning, I said, ‘Okay, today will be a good day.’ My team helped me a lot. They convinced me that I am the same Marc like in Austin and like last year. My target was to finish in front of Dani because I thought he was fastest. But Dovi, again, was faster.”

Dovi and GiGi Dall'Igna
Ducati Team's Luigi Dall'Igna (L) and Andrea DoviziosoPhoto: Ducati Team

Pedrosa has made three podium appearances this season, including one win. “Since the first lap, I couldn’t push—I didn’t feel the grip,” he said. “I was trying to manage the tires to see if I could stay in my rhythm, but Dovi was catching me a lot in the straights. Toward the end, I lost more grip and I couldn’t manage to be faster. I expected Marc to be the rival for the race, but actually the guy was Andrea. I’m not really disappointed because, overall, it was a really good weekend. We got pole yesterday and today a podium. Compared to last weekend, this was much better.”

Cal Crutchlow had a less-memorable race on Sunday in Spain: “I survived and I managed to finish, which is probably the main thing,” he said. “It wasn’t the greatest day I’ve ever had on a motorcycle, but I was pleased enough having started in 17th. I chose a hard tire, thinking that everybody else’s would drop, but ours wasn’t even good on the warm-up lap.”Photo: MotoGP
MotoGP tire chart
Tire choice was top of mind and on the tip of every tongue today in Barcelona. Of the 22 riders who started the 25-lap race, 11 chose the medium front Michelin, while the other 11 opted for the hard—an intriguing 50/50 mix. At the rear, only five chose the hard, the majority selecting the medium.Photo: Michelin Motorsports

MotoGP’s spec-tire supplier also saw the positives. “Today was a very tough race,” admitted Michelin’s Piero Taramasso. “The tires did a good job because the conditions were much hotter compared to last year and the track was much worse. The grip level was very, very low. But, in the end, the tires worked for Ducati, they worked for Honda, they worked for Yamaha. So, we had these three manufacturers in the first six places. We beat the lap record compared to last year, so we are very pleased.”

Following back-to-back race weekends in Italy and Spain, MotoGP now has a “normal” two-week break before the championship heads to the Netherlands for the always popular—and often wet—Dutch TT on June 23-25. What to expect from Round 8 of the series? “Nobody can understand the future, especially this season,” said Dovizioso, always the realist. “Every weekend is a different story. I don’t want to think about Assen because I didn’t expect to be competitive here and I won.”