Catalunya GP – Preview: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
The MotoGP™ contingent lines up for the sixth race of the season at the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya in Barcelona this weekend, with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo and Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa once again heading into the race as hot favourites.
Following a crash from a podium position last time out in Mugello, Repsol’s Marc Marquez, who no longer has any ill effects from his 280km/h crash, will be an outside favourite as he will want to take to the podium in front of his home fans. Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, whose last race came to a very early end in front of his home fans, will be looking to make amends in Catalunya, a track where he has had many entertaining battles over the years.
However there will be another rider lurking in the shadows waiting to step up onto the podium for the third time this season. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow has had two successive podiums, and will be heading into the race with spirits raised high. His teammate Bradley Smith on the other hand, is still suffering from a very nasty crash that left him with a badly damaged little finger on his left hand as well as a small fracture of the wrist. Yet following a brave display in Mugello, he will no doubt put on a good show once again.
Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso will be fully recovered from his neck injury, as he and teammate Nicky Hayden take the next step in the Ducati development this year. The pair come of the back off yet another private test at the Mugello track the previous Thursday and Friday, and will hope that it gives them that little bit more pace to challenge their Honda and Yamaha rivals.
GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista will hope to put his collision with Rossi, which was deemed a racing incident, behind him, and focus on putting in a good performance in front of his home crowd. Equally, LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, fresh from his fourth position in Italy, will continue the search for the podium step that has so far eluded him.
Ignite Pramac Racing’s Ben Spies will unfortunately sit out the Barcelona race, as consequences of his shoulder injury continue to plague him, and will again be replaced by Ducati Test rider Michele Pirro. Pirro took part in the Mugello race on the GP13 “lab bike”, but will be riding Spies’ official Desmosedici GP13 in Catalunya. Energy T.I. Pramac Racing teammate Andrea Iannone will be further into the recovery process from his knee injury, and will be in less discomfort this time out.
The CRTs will continue to look for a way past form-man Aleix Espargaro on his Power Electronics Aspar ART machine, with teammate Randy de Puniet particularly keen to get one over on the Spaniard. Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama faces a battle to be fully fit after damaging his left thumb and knee in a crash in Mugello, whilst his teammate Hector Barbera will be the hot favourite to challenge Espargaro for top CRT spot. Lining up alongside them will be NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards and Claudio Corti, Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, PBM duo Michael Laverty and Yonny Hernandez, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci and Lukas Pesek, as well as Gresini’s Bryan Staring.
Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding heads into this weekend’s Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya in Barcelona with a hefty points margin, as his Moto2™ rivals will have a big job on their hands to beat the on-song Englishman.
Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol, fresh from his podium in Mugello, will be hoping to claw back some of Redding’s margin, as will the Brit’s teammate Mika Kallio, who is currently tied on points with Terol. Yet many eyes will be peeled on the Tuenti HP 40 duo of Esteve Rabat and Pol Espargaro, who both come in to the race with a point to prove.
Espargaro looks to have found some of his recently lost confidence at the post-Mugello test, and could prove to be one of the biggest threats at his home race. Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter had a surprisingly subdued weekend in Mugello, and will be aiming to get back to the kind of form that sees him just trailing Espargaro in the championship standings.
Came IodaRacing Project’s Johann Zarco could prove to be a podium contender this weekend after having broken his Moto2™ podium duck last time out, whilst Desguaces La Torre SAG Maptaq’s Xavier Simeon will aim to bounce back from being taken out in the race by NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis, who himself only marginally trails the Belgium in the championship.
Two wildcards will be taking part in the form of Petronas Raceline Malaysia’s Hafizh Shahrin and TSR Motorsport’s Spaniard Dani Rivas.
Spanish fans will be in for a treat this weekend at the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya in Barcelona in the Moto3™ class, as three locals look set to fight it out for top honours in the form of Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom and Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins.
Salom heads into the weekend in winning form, having also tried many new bike variations in the post-race test, whilst Viñales will be looking to head to the top step again after not converting his leading Free Practice form into a win last time out in Mugello. Rins has proven to be a rider to always be reckoned with, and will be no exception at what is his home-race as well.
Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger worked tirelessly in the Mugello test to take his outright pace through race distance, and will be hoping that changes made will propel him to challenge the Spanish dominance once more. Rins’ teammate Alex Marquez has been showing good speed, and will also be on more familiar home soil, whilst the likes of Ambrogio Racing’s Brad Binder and Mahindra Racing’s Miguel Oliveira will also remain constant podium threats.
This weekend sees two wildcards take part in the Moto3™ class with Italian Andrea Migno for GTM Racing on his FTR, as well as familiar face Kevin Hanus from Germany on the Thomas Sabo GP Team Honda.