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Title: Post-Race Report: Barcelona-Catalunya MotoGP – DesmoDovi wins back-to-back races!

Author: Myanna Wedes

The 2017 Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona-Catalunya circuit was sensational. Pedrosa started on pole after an amazing qualifying session and absolutely loved racing in front of his home crowd, as did Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and the rest of the Spanish squad. On the grid, Danilo Petrucci was the only Italian to split a load of Spanish riders. In Moto3 and Moto2 the flag of Spain was flown high! In MotoGP, it was the flag of Italy once again with Dovi on the top step.

The start of the race was insane with Petrucci almost swiping Marquez off his bike and also Lorenzo prior to that. I think the nerves may have gotten the better of him. In amongst this, Lorenzo had a huge wheelie at the start although kept his focus and charged out in front of Marquez and Pedrosa. There were 99,873 spectators watching on with multiple emotions taking place. Alvaro Bautista got off to a cracker start in front of Andrea Dovizioso. Maverick Vinales had a terrible start with his first lap putting him in to sixteenth. Cal Crutchlow did not have a good start either after the first lap in fourteenth and Andrea Iannone also went backwards.

The grid stayed together on lap two and actually started to settle in to a rhythm after an intense first lap. Jack Miller had a super start and took it to the grid in style on board his Honda, which is very crucial for his contractual negotiations. Fair play to Jonas Folger who pushed hard and got in front of Aleix Esparagro so early in to the race. Yesterday Folger said he had no grip though the bike was feeling great. The fastest laps were being exchanged and Valentino Rossi got his hands dirty going up against Jack Miller and Alvaro Bautista. What a race! It was crucial for Rossi to get in to a rhythm in order to conserve tyre wear and make his way through the field. Petrucci is ballsy to say the least. He was under investigation due to the starting incident although managed to keep pushing other riders regardless of the track temperatures.

Pedrosa was coming under attack by Andrea Dovizioso who knew that the track would be complicated and with that understood the advantages the Ducati has with tyre wear even if the rear tyre dropped off early. Dovi managed his pace and race well. Lorenzo’s lead was cut with twenty-one laps to go and Marquez changed his tactics and did not go as aggressive as some expected him to be. Rather, Marquez followed Lorenzo’s lines and kept his Honda beast tamed. That was until he decided to give his bike the reigns back and got ahead of Lorenzo by pushing him completely wide and Pedrosa coming through as well. Lorenzo had too cool off and then he was charged at by Dovizioso putting him in to fourth. Folger went for it and made Lorenzo sit up as well! The rookie was not going to play clean and rather made his maneuverer stick.

The top five did not escape each other at all. In fact, they were that close you could hear the engines screaming at one another. Petrucci got ahead of Lorenzo after the rhythm was upset completely. Dovizioso could see the Honda’s and was just waiting to pounce. The three-way battle was heating up lap after lap. Folger again went in to hot and had to cut the corner. No doubt that Aleix Espargaro needs a break! An engine failure after all his hard work this weekend and putting him back in to the garage early. This was a real shame especially for the Aprilia fans.

The Honda’s were like on ice skates and Dovizioso went in to second with Pedrosa in first. Pedrosa from the very start had a lack of grip though pushed because he knew that later in to the race others would struggle. Bautista also overtook Lorenzo and Rossi kept on the hunt with Zarco, Lorenzo and Bautista in his sights. The target goal was set especially since Vinales was struggling so bad and could not get the bike up to scratch. Out of everyone, Dovizioso and Pedrosa managed to pull away on the straight until Marquez caught up in to the first and second corners, as did Petrucci. Impressive. The young Italian rider at Pramac just keeps entertaining everyone and Folger well he has to be given credit as he showcases just how talented he is on the satellite Yamaha bike.

It was not a great race at all for Scott Redding who just isn’t cutting it when you compare him to his teammate Petrucci. It was also unfortunate for Jack Miller who crashed out after starting so strong. Pedrosa kept out braking Dovizioso to stop the straight-line speed of the Ducati from winning the battle. Crutchlow was also 1.2 seconds faster than Barbera and started to really dial in lap after lap. Rossi did everything he could to stay in control of his lap times although lost a second, which was definitely the start of the tyres degrading. Whilst this was happening, Dovizioso took it to Pedrosa and completely annihilated him on the straight. With that, Marquez looked at this as his opportunity to try get ahead and eventually did so. In regards to Dovi, he is having the career of his life with a World Championship in his sights. Could he be the Ducati rider to make it happen?

We must say that Johann Zarco was very consistent with his lap times and could see a top finish and as a result did not stop progressing. He and Bautista exchanged places and Lorenzo was on their tails waiting to take them on. He did exactly that and took both riders in one move though hit the gas too much and had to run off the circuit. Lorenzo kept at it though and things got tight with Spanish fans cheering out loudly. Folgers tyres were starting to go off with six laps to go and he was passed by Petrucci who had confidence going in and out of the corners and with Lorenzo coming back in the last part of the race to take more places off Bautista and Zarco. Lorenzo with four laps to go was 1.2 seconds faster. He then picked off Folger and went after Petrucci and made the Italian sit up otherwise it could have been trouble. It was a splendid recovery by Lorenzo who could have had a different result had the rhythm not been upset so early in to the piece. His teammate Dovi checked out at the front and with three laps to go just got more comfortable with his Desmo and managing any issues that came about. It really has been an amazing start to the season for Ducati and it is only going to get better with riders like himself and Lorenzo in the mix. At the other end of the grid, Vinales was riding with frustration and overall is guttered.

With two laps to go, Bautista was sliding all over the track and had to cool it otherwise he would have put himself in to the gravel like Petrucci did. It was a long walk back to the garage and with his smile wiped away. Upset and disappointed to say the least. Overall, the tyres just gave in with the combination of rider aggressiveness and heat. The Tech3 Yamaha teammates were going at each other. No team rules here! Talk about one rookie wanting the honours and the other as well. Zarco got ahead and Dovi took back-to-back wins in style. Ducati has every reason to celebrate and Lorenzo was down celebrating with the team knowing that he is going to get even closer to the top with the performance and data of Dovi available to him. What a season of MotoGP it already is. Dovi is not thinking about the title. He is just focusing on managing tyres, the bike and to perform at a high level with his team. Relaxation is the key word.

Dovi: “I do not want to think about Assen yet because I did not think I was going to be competitive here. I am very happy to win and I just want to focus on tomorrow. We still need to improve. Mugello is a good track for us and last year we were competitive. Today it was a strange race and was not about the speed. In the test, it happened, I followed Marc and he was pushing a lot. With speed we still miss something. This weekend we worked well and were relaxed. I have a lot of experience with the Ducati and I had a different attitude in certain things. The tyres did not have grip so I had advantage in the straight because my engine is stronger. This is not the real reality I believe. I want to think in a positive way and every weekend is different. We approached this weekend to make differences. We still need to work on areas. I do not want to speak in a negative way. This is my fifth year with this bike and how the engineers are working. If we want to fight for the Championship we have to improve other things. The other bikes and riders are very competitive. We have to be focused on the improvements not the Championship”.

“For sure when we win everything changes in the garage. I have not won a lot in MotoGP and this helps riders. Everyone working with me if we win a race, we have better confidence and are relaxed in how you work. Like I say in Austin when I was angry, the team missed something and what that was is from three years. We have to be inside of that because I believe that we have big potential to fight for the Championship but we miss something. We need to be focused on what we have missed in the last three years. There are some points worse than the competitor and we need to fix this to fight every weekend.” 

“I approach life and the sport in a different way and my results are much better compared to last year and this year. I am really happy to be more relaxed and know more about the reality of a few things and to try to get the maximum result in that way. It makes a big difference. Small things can create a big change. Like, for example in FP3 for me it was difficult to be in top ten. I feel a little bit different from last year and this helps with my results. It is always a few things: better bike, positive, Championship is different, tyres working sometimes good and bad and when you approach it you right it makes a difference. You can meet some people and they can explain to you something and you can believe in a different way. People can understand or become too much.”

Marquez:the start of the race was about mentality, it was difficult to sleep last night and today I knew it would be a good day. I crashed over my starting machine and then crashed. I was like I want to go home but it was difficult and my team reminded me of the Marc Marquez in Austin. I start to be calm and control all the things. I thought that my teammate would be the man but when I saw Dovi was behind him, I said to myself Dovi is the guy. We were losing on the straight and not gain on the corners. The limit was on the tyres. We try to push even like this, when Dovi pushed, I try to push harder and then I felt like I could crash so took the points. Today the target was victory. I arrived here on Wednesday and Thursday and I say to the team I want to take a risk and I did then in the race I stay calm. When I saw myself, it looked stupid but you know I did not see with the helmet. I was not angry with the mechanics because it was my mistake. I was focused on the race and you could see this on the podium (laughs). The way that Dovi is riding is fast but it will be interesting to see how they go at Assen and Sachsenring. If they are first, they have done something better than us.”

“The weekend was hard and before the race it was not hard for my physical condition and of course it is a dangerous sport but I do not care about this. I care more about if I crash today and what you write tomorrow. My team believe say don’t worry and we can work overnight. In the end it is my style to push the limit on the circuit. Yesterday, the way to ride was completely different. In the test, I was riding like before. Today it had to be different with the front tyre. I never gave up. I am a strong guy and I always believe in me. This gives me confidence to ride in the normal way in the race”.

Pedrosa: “It was good for me. The same feeling did not happen with the tyres. I was in the race and I was second, third and then to the lead. I tried to save the tyres as much as I could. I kept seeing the pit board and the group being close. I thought Marc would be the guy to chase but it was Dovi and it was a surprise. Today was not as good as yesterday. I wanted to take the points. The feeling was not there and I am happy because the Championship is difficult and it is moving a lot each week. Honda and Yamaha struggling more to keep the good and the bad. The Ducati are more stable week after week. They are doing good things. Tomorrow we have test and we want to get more consistent for each weekend. We have to react to each situation in the best way”.

About The Author

Myanna Wedes

Myanna has an incredible grasp and knowledge of the sport in detail and continues to secure lead stories every week. She is in constant contact with team and rider media management. She is an admitted lawyer with two degrees and is currently writing a biography on Alan Jones MBE 1980 F1 World Champion. She is a fond lover of two wheel motorsport, predominantly MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.