Jorge Lorenzo won the battle of the home GP boys by beating the Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa while the Tech3 Yamaha of Andrea Dovizioso finished a surprising third ahead of defending World Champion Casey Stoner’s Repsol Honda RC213V. Lorenzo’s factory Yamaha teammate Ben Spies started well only to get involved in an incident that saw him drop to the end of the field before he recovered to a top 10 finish. The second Tech3 Yamaha M1 rider Cal Crutchlow maintained his superb form this season by finishing in fifth position, which incidentally is his lowest thus far this season. This year comparisons were drawn between Crutchlow’s style and Casey Stoner’s style (it must be said that these discussions were initiated by Crutchlow himself once Casey Stoner announced his retirement) but Stoner has been very firm in denying any similarities. It is interesting that Crutchlow at one point said his style of riding came closest to Lorenzo’s. If you put these two statements of his together it is obvious that Crutchlow is trying to find a seat either at the factory Yamaha team or at the factory Honda team which the Repsol Honda is. The Englishman is playing the opportunist, but no one can blame him for he has shown great form on satellite spec machinery. There are many who doubt if he is factory team material though.
Casey Stoner attributed his fourth place showing to issues of rear wheel chatter as well as wrong choice of tyre which happened to be the harder compound Bridgestone. At the end of qualifying Stoner scathingly said of his opponents that he did not see any point in running with a soft compound tyre just to get a good one lap time when the heat of Barcelona meant that the tyres would degrade very fast during the distance of the race. However, it rained on the morning of the race, and those who chose the softer compound Bridgestone fared better than Stoner. Technical analysis also seems to point that the Yamaha motorcycles are kinder on their tyres making it possible to use the soft compound tyre over race distance whereas the aggressive Honda is perhaps unsuited to the soft compound tyre but does not use the hard compound very well either. That seems to be the reason for the chatter that Stoner has been consistently complaining about.
Alvaro Bautista is doing his best to stake a claim for a factory seat when the musical chairs will begin in a couple of weeks’ time with all leading riders out of a ride for the next year. Bautista on the prototype Gresini Honda managed to overtake a fighting Valentino Rossi whose Ducati had destroyed the rear tyre and was snaking around due to lack of traction and Bautista seized this opportunity to overtake Rossi towards the end and clinch sixth place. Despite this set back Valentino Rossi pronounced himself happy for the moment since this was the best that the Ducati had been ever since he joined the team. However, he did warn the team that 7th place was not something that either he or the team should be happy about and wanted further developments and fast ones at that to close the gap to the leading Hondas and Yamahas. At the Mugello test Rossi had tried an aluminium swing arm and pronounced that to be better than the carbon fibre one but when he actually used it on Friday at the Montmelo circuit he found that it was not as good as the carbon fibre one and hence used the the latter for both qualifying and the race.
Both Rossi and his teammate Nicky Hayden complained that the electronics settings that they found useful at Mugello actually took them backwards with the engine not being responsive enough at low revs. They also talked of the continued under steer problem and Rossi in fact said that one of the reasons why his rear tyre degraded was because he was trying to counter the under-steer with rear wheel steering. Hayden also complained of numbness in his right arm due to the demands of heavy braking and this led to his coming home only in ninth place despite having qualified better than Rossi. Stefan Bradl split the two factory Ducatis with an eighth place. Bradl while not doing too badly for a rookie, will still be concerned that Bautista is finishing better than him since there has been some talk that Bradl could possibly replace the departing Casey Stoner next year in the Repsol Honda team. Whatever the truth behind those claims it is not going to hurt Bradl’s cause if he were to beat Bautista consistently in the races, especially if the talk that Bradl is virtually riding a factory spec Honda which was meant for the late Marco Simoncelli.
The underperforming Ben Spies who dragged himself home in tenth place is finding himself under more and more pressure from Yamaha to perform or perish, though this thing is not being openly said, at least not yet. Ben Spies’ lack of decent results, eighth being his best thus far, contrasts with the results of Lorenzo who has won three races so far and is leading the championship. The likes of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow has made their intentions clear that they are looking to replace him in the factory Yamaha team. The honour of being the best CRT performer of the day went to Aleix Espargaro who managed to beat back the challenge of teammate Randy De Puniet as well as that of Michele Pirro on the Gresini CRT Honda which uses an FTR frame. The CRTs are becoming a cause for concern since after five races there is nothing to show that they are closing the gap to the prototypes, especially the Avintia and the Ioda racing machines.