Rossi triomphe en solitaire sur les terres de ses rivaux / Rossi romps to 113th career victory
L’Italien a remporté sa première victoire de l’année haut la main au Grand Prix Red Bull d’Espagne, devant Lorenzo et Márquez.
Après s’être offert sa première pole position de l’année, et quatrième seulement depuis 2010, samedi à Jerez de la Frontera, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) a tenu ses promesses et a infligé une cinglante défaite aux pilotes locaux, son coéquipier Jorge Lorenzo et Marc Márquez (Repsol Honda Team), qui ont respectivement compté jusqu’à quatre et huit secondes de retard sur l’Italien.
Malgré les tentatives de Lorenzo de s’emparer de la première place en début de course, Rossi a su contenir son coéquipier le temps de faire monter ses pneus en température et, après un excellent départ, a pu creuser l’écart de manière définitive dès le premier tiers de la course.
Ayant lui-même distancé Márquez, qui avait perdu du temps derrière son coéquipier Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) en début d’épreuve, Lorenzo a tenté de hausser le rythme afin de rattraper Rossi mais a finalement jeté l’éponge en voyant l’Italien réagir pour préserver sa confortable avance.
Le nonuple Champion du Monde décrochait donc en solitaire sa première victoire de l’année, de quoi reprendre quelques points aux Espagnols et grimper au sommet du podium pour la première fois depuis août 2015.
Deuxième et sur le podium pour la 100e fois en MotoGP™, Lorenzo réalisait lui aussi une bonne opération en rattrapant une bonne partie de son retard sur Márquez. Seul pilote à avoir fini les quatre premières courses de la saison sur le podium, ce dernier conserve la tête du classement général avec dix-sept longueurs d’avance sur Lorenzo et vingt-quatre sur Rossi. Les trois rivaux se retrouvaient ensemble sur le podium pour la première fois depuis le GP de République Tchèque 2015.
Parti pour disputer la troisième place à son coéquipier, Pedrosa n’a lutté contre Márquez que pour quelques tours et avait déjà trois secondes de retard sur son compatriote à mi-distance. Le pilote du team Repsol Honda s’est plus tard retrouvé sous la menace d’Aleix Espargaró (Team Suzuki Ecstar) mais a finalement réussi à distancer ce dernier, qui prenait cependant la cinquième place pour la deuxième course d’affilée.
Son coéquipier Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) a terminé sixième, devant Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) vainqueur d’un duel pour la septième place face à Pol Espargaró (Monster Yamaha Tech3) alors qu’il était parti onzième. Son coéquipier Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), percuté par Iannone en Argentine puis par Pedrosa au Texas, a de nouveau été terriblement malchanceux et a abandonné pour la troisième fois de suite en raison d’un problème technique.
Sur Ducati GP14.2, Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team MotoGP) et Héctor Barberá (Avintia Racing) ont pris les neuvième et dixième places, finissant respectivement pour la deuxième et la quatrième fois dans le Top 10 depuis le début de la saison.
Poussé par un autre pilote et relégué en dernière position dans le premier tour, le Français Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) a persévéré pour aller chercher les précieux points de la treizième place, derrière les Britanniques Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) et Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3), et sera à domicile pour la prochaine épreuve, au Mans, du 6 au 8 mai, lors du Monster Energy Grand Prix de France.
The Gran Premio Red Bull de España saw Valentino Rossi lead from start to finish, winning from Lorenzo and Marquez with ease.
All weekend the leading three were in a league of their own. Rossi, Lorenzo and Marquez had filled the top three spots of almost every practice session and lined up next to each other on the front row of the grid. The three biggest names in MotoGP™ were alongside each other once more and everything in practice had indicated that there was almost nothing to choose between them. As is typical of the Spanish GP, the grid was packed with mechanics, guests and officials but the riders did their best to block it out and run through their race plans.
With all three on the same hard front and medium rear tyres, managing tyre life could very well decide the race but those concerns would come later. The sun beat down on the grid and getting into, and out of, Turn 1 quickly and safety was all any of the MotoGP™ riders were worrying about. Races can’t be won in the first corner, but they can certainly be lost. Right hands gripped throttles; riders leaned forward and tensed as the lights came on. Off the lights went, the crowd erupting into applause and cheers as Valentino Rossi made a great start to lead into Turn 1. But he wasn’t alone Jorge Lorenzo right behind with Repsol Honda Team duo Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa within touching distance.
Perhaps the best start of the race was from Pedrosa who quickly put his RC213V into third midway through the first lap. Across the line they went as the second lap began as the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP pair stretched their lead. Marquez attacked Pedrosa into Turn 6, running wide as his line was blocked. Through Turn 9 Lorenzo launched a similar attack on Rossi, the Italian holding off his teammate as the Hondas clawed back the gap with Marquez now in third.
Fans were transfixed on the leading four, few noticing the incredible start of Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team MotoGP) who was in eighth as the third lap began and the leading Independent Team rider. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) chased Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) for fifth with Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) on the tail of his Ducati. Dovizioso’s teammate, Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) was having a terrible race, dropping like a stone down to 14th in the opening laps.
All of the leaders lapped in the mid 1’40s, Rossi trying to escape as Marquez looked for a way through on Lorenzo. His lead would soon be over half a second, Rossi upped his pace lap after lap and drew out hundredths of a second at each corner. Before long the gap was at a second, Valentino Rossi seemingly doing as his teammate had done so many times before and breaking the field early in the race. No matter what Lorenzo did he was unable to close in on Rossi nor shake off Marquez.
Disaster struck for Dovizioso on the tenth lap as yet again, through no fault of his own, his race came to an end. The factory Ducati rider was forced to sit up as his Desmosedici GP encountered a terminal issue, forcing him to ride back into the pits and once again make the long walk across the garage to spectate the race.
Rossi and his team had focused on race setting throughout the weekend, ‘The Doctor’s’ work paying off as the gap soon grew to over two seconds as no one was able to match his lap times. Behind him Lorenzo had his hands full fending off Marquez, the Repsol Honda rider not quite close enough to attack but able to apply ample pressure.
Overtakes were scarce at the front but the battle for seventh place produced some thrilling racing, Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) leading the group ahead of Laverty. Just behind them Andrea Iannone and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) pushed each other hard for 10th position, not what either rider wanted before the race. In front, Pedrosa had Aleix Espargaro to contend with, Pedrosa working hard to hold off the Suzuki man. Since his fifth in Austin, Espargaro has been in some of the best form of his career after a setup breakthrough.
With over half race distance gone, Lorenzo broke Marquez and opened up a one second lead on his fellow Spaniard. Marquez had chosen to run winglets on his Honda which assisted with keeping the front end down but also ran the risk of overheating the front tyre over the race. With ten laps to go, Lorenzo hadn’t just broken Marquez but he also began to close in on Rossi. A gap that was once three seconds quickly dropped to two and that gap continued to fall by a couple of tenths a lap, would it be enough with eight laps remaining?
His chances of victory would fade as Rossi responded to Lorenzo’s increased pace and once again dropped into the low 1’41s. The gap would grow to over three seconds, Lorenzo unable to push any harder and settling to take valuable championship points. Marquez also continued to drop back, his chances of a home victory long gone as he found himself over five second behind Lorenzo.
After a terrible start to the race, Iannone set about making up for lost time and quickly got past Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and ran away with seventh place. This would be one of the last battles of the race as the field stretched out, only a handful of riders within a second of each other.
For the 113th time in his career and the 87th time in the premier class, Valentino Rossi pulled a wheelie across the line to celebrate victory. After the disappointment of Austin, the result is exactly what ‘The Doctor’ needed. Behind him Jorge Lorenzo took his 100th premier class podium finish and Marquez was able to keep the lead of the Championship, his lead reduced slightly to 17 points.
Pedrosa withstood Espargaro’s challenge to end in fourth ahead of the Spaniard.
Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team), Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team MotoGP) and Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) completed the top ten.
Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) crashed out of the race at Turn 11 after battling with Cal Crutchlow in the opening stages.
The Monster Energy Grand Prix de France will seem them do it all again for round five of the 2016 World Championship.
MotoGP™ World Championship standings after the Gran Premio Red Bull de España can be seen here.