- Apr 8, 2014
It's difficult to explain how spectacular this race was, so just watch it... and if you cant then just read the review below.
Qualifying It was a nice sunny saturday afternoon and the Yamaha's had dedicated their time on friday and saturday morning to the extra hard rear tyre (yellow). They had a decent fast lap set up with the hard tyre (red) but it wasn't their focus, in any case it wasn't enough, they ended on the 2nd and 3rd rows of the grid. Marc Marquez93 was fast with both tyres and for the first time since 2007 Suzuki has been able to be competitive at a circuit even if its only for 1 lap, Aleix Espargaro41 was extremely fast and pushing the GSX-RR to the limit he clocked a spectacular lap but Marquez93 was on another level half a second faster to take pole.
Race All the talk was about tyres, who would use what? What we knew for sure was that the Yamaha's would use the extra hard rear (yellow) with Jorge Lorenzo99 using the Medium Front and Valentino Rossi46 the Hard Front. It seemed that Marc Marquez93 would be using it as well (he did his sighting lap on it) but he then decided to change it on the grid and gamble with the hard (red). The difference between the 2 was that the extra hard would come good at the end of the race and the hard was faster at the beginning but then had a big steady drop.
The Repsol Honda man had a plan, he noticed the Yamaha's (specially Rossi46) had great pace on the extra hard tyre and that it would be difficult to keep up. So he gambled.. put on a hard tyre to build a gap at the beginning and hold it until the end, it was a good plan indeed since he would have to ride like an asshole the first 10 laps and then manage, something he is very good at. Valentino Rossi46 noticed this change on the warm up lap....
The red lights went off and Aleix Espargaro41 had a great launch from 2nd on the grid and led for a couple of corners, until they got to the back straight were Honda's RC213V horse power made Suzuki's GSX-RR engine look like a damn fool, surely Aleix's heart sunk when Marquez93 went pass him. He then tried to compensate in the corners, battling with Lorenzo99 (who had a great start) for the first few laps, but he was a little to anxious it seemed and his passes didn't stick falling further down the grid and ending the race in 7th. Once he gets horse power and some experience running with the front runners, watch out for him.
Marquez93 immediately started to break away posting an amazing 1.39.071 on his 2nd lap while Cal Crutchlow35 on the LCR Honda Satellite took 3rd from Espargaro41 who ran wide dropping to 6th after the factory Ducati's went by. Cal had some pace and was able to pass Jorge Lorenzo99 for 3rd. It seemed that the Mallorcan was back to his hammering lap times ways but he started to fade away from this point on, relegated to 5th after a couple of laps, he claimed that his rear tyre was spinning too much and that he might've been better off with the hard instead of the extra hard.
All in the mean while just like in Losail, Valentino Rossi46 was on a mission, his lap times were getting faster and faster, he had a great start but Andrea Iannone29 bumped him from the inside on turn 1 making him lose a couple of positions. After recovering he caught and took the Suzuki for 6th place as well as Lorenzo99 for 5th, Valentino's team mate had no response to his impressive race pace. By this point Marc had +3 seconds to 2nd place and was improving his lead, Crutchlow35 locked the front a couple of times and couldn't keep 2nd running wide letting Dovizioso04 and his Ducati pass. Rossi46 arrived to Iannone29 in 4th and started to lap faster then the race leader, relatively easily passes the second Ducati and once Crutchlow35 had a big wobble he passed him for 3rd behind Andrea Dovizioso04.
Dovi04 wasn't able to hold him back, he was just a tenth or so slower than him, being delegated to 3rd a lap later by Rossi46. Who finally arrives to the front of the chasing group, by this moment Marquez93 has built a +4.2 second gap with 14 laps to go! and in theory should be able to nurse it home...
This is where it gets nerve wrecking, Valentino46 running Mid .39's and Marc93 running High .39's, but with 7 to go Rossi46 was already in the low .39's and had slashed the gap to +2.1 seconds, with 5 to go he posts the Fastest Lap of the race a stunning 1.39.019 considering it was on a very used tyre. By this time he is only half a second from Marquez93 who said he was saving some rear tyre for the battle he knew would come in the last laps. When Rossi46 arrived with 3 laps to go he is an astonishing 0.800 per lap faster then Marquez93, it is a beautiful strategy when you see a lower top speed M1 Yamaha slip streaming a RC213V Honda on a straight, Marquez93 had no drive left out of the corners, he tried to compensate in braking but had a slight wobble enough for Rossi46 to pass him deep into the corner and snatch back towards the apex. Marquez93 had a different idea and tried to cut him back on the inside on the exit of turn 5 making contact with left side of the leaning Yamaha, Rossi46 briefly glanced to the right and on the immediate flick left for turn 6, his back wheel swept the front tyre of the Honda making it tumble down the road with Marquez93 sliding on his leathers behind it. The end gentlemen, Rossi46 takes his 2nd win of the season, 110th Gran Prix victory, 30+ points on the defending world champion and 6+ points on 2nd place Andrea Dovizioso04. Amazing.
Cal Crutchlow35 pipped Iannone29 for the last spot on the podium in the last 2 corners, with a beautiful block pass, 3 years on 3 different bikes, podiums on all 3 of them, what a rider Cal is! Also in joy for the LCR Team Jack Miller43 won the open class bikes, incredible considering who he was racing against and that this is onlly his 3rd race in MotoGP after jumping Moto2 all together... WOW.
What a master showing from the 36 year old italian - 9 times world champion, it seems now a strong possibility to achieve his 10th world title and even pass Agostini on the gran prix victories record, but you never know what will happen in MotoGP, there are 15 more races and that's a hell lot of laps! Consider also that Dovizioso04 was almost as fast as the Yamaha man with the hard rear tyre and is only 6 points back in the championship.. I cant wait for Jerez de la Frontera, Spain in two weeks time.