Under the Tuscan sun and amidst the yellow smoke from the 100,000+ fans, Valentino Rossi looked set to win his home Grand Prix after a thrilling pole position finish in qualifying. The Doctor looked to have a strong pace throughout practice sessions with the factory Hondas seeming to struggle, even though Marquez managed to fight his machine to be amongst the front runners. But this fairytale weekend was not to go the way of the Italian this time.
Although Lorenzo had a blistering start to the race, taking the lead from Rossi at the first corner following an uncharacteristic 5th place start, all was looking good for the Doctor. He clearly had the pace to contend with his team mate during the first few laps, and after some overtaking appeared to have the overall edge. This early battle enabled Marquez to make some ground so all was set for an epic battle to ensue. Unfortunately on lap 8, Rossi’s Yamaha M1 suffered a terminal problem and he was forced to retire the race in front of his masses of passionate fans. Rossi returned to the pits on the back of a scooter with his head hung low and visor down, whilst his army of fans remained silent. He would later state that it was his first breakdown in 9 years and it was incredibly unfortunate to happen at this race at a time when he appeared to have the strongest pace.
Following the Doctor’s exit, Lorenzo continued his work at ticking off the laps with the race win looking to be his. But of course Marquez had yet to have his say and methodically worked his way forward to catch up with Lorenzo. The Honda rider had been riding to the limit all weekend but seemed to have got to grips with his machine and now looked to be a real contender for the first position. An enthralling battle commenced on the penultimate lap with Marquez launching his attack. This continued to the race end with several overtakes by both riders, and one particularly aggressive move by Marquez at very high speed. However, Lorenzo really showed his fighting qualities and at no point succumbed to Marquez’s ‘fight-or-die’ approach. A final overtake by Marquez got him into prime lead position ready for the final corner to the long fast straight to the finish. Lorenzo remained calm and calculated, took the final corner with his usual perfection that gave his M1 optimum drive on to the straight, and eventually passed the unsuspecting Honda rider just before the line. Lorenzo took the victory ahead of Marquez by a mere 2 thousandths of a second, maintaining his position at the top of the championship. It wasn’t all gloom for the Italians though, with Andrea Iannone grabbing the final rostrum place for Ducati.
For analysis on the race and the highly entertaining Moto2 and Moto3 races, visit Motogp.com.
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Main Image – Dani Pedrosa. MotoGP GP de Catar 2016 by Box Repsol
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