MotoGP Catalunya Insider

June 15, 2009
Martin Heath
“As we say in Italy, Mamma Mia!” was Valentino Rossi’s way of summing up his dramatic last corner race win here at Circuit de Catalunya (aka Lorenzo Land), snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, a mere stone’s throw from the finishing line, just as then-race-leader and local hero Jorge Lorenzo took a split second to dream about a historic home win. Lorenzo had put together the almost perfect last lap but said “today Valentino was maybe a little bit cleverer or a little bit braver than me at the very end.”

Rossi had somehow managed to ghost by between the last two quick, downhill double-right-hand corners exiting the stadium section, managing to hold his line into the final turn on a set of completely shot Bridgestones, holding off a last-gasp lunge from the young pretender to cross the line 0.095 of a second ahead to score his 99th win.

I’ve looked at the epic last-lap move half-a-dozen times already on YouTube and still can’t figure out what Jorge did wrong, or more importantly, what Valentino did right! Plain and simple: Complete genius!

Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo battling for the win at Catalunya. Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo battling for the win at Catalunya. Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo battling for the win at Catalunya.
Rossi and Lorenzo would trade positions at the front throughout the race, but an incredible pass on the final turn gave Rossi the win.

I’ve never witnessed VR as happy and pumped up after a victory, jumping up and down in parc ferme, waving a defiant fist towards the packed main grandstand. In complete contrast ‘Gorgeous George’ was trying to keep a lid on his anger and very little in the way of eye or body contact happened between the two Fiat Yamaha teammates until they reached the podium. Indeed to begin with Lorenzo still clearly seething, refused to acknowledge or shake the hand of the defending World Champion, until some testosterone-loosing minutes later, when they finally hugged after letting things die down.

Valentino’s team manager Davide Brivio said that “this race deserves one of the top places in the gallery of Valentino’s career!” Considering The Doctor’s career, that’s saying quite a lot.

Rossi, Lorenzo and Stoner (who finished third) are now all locked together at the top of the championship at 106 points. Stoner had only just made it to the finish after waking this morning sick and with stomach cramps, and almost collapsed with exhaustion in parc ferme.

Colin Edwards - 2009 MotoGP  CatalunyaNicky Hayden - 2009 MotoGP  Catalunya
(top) Edwards struggled with front-end issues, while (bottom) Hayden seemed to have found some new traction with recent set-up changes made on his Ducati. 

Colin Edwards came home seventh after “front-end issues” and struggling off the start with the shorter-wheelbase ‘09 bike that wants to wheelie away from the line. Nicky Hayden is finally starting to find some direction with the Ducati. After “changing everything on the bike apart from the grips” following test rider Vitto Guareschi’s post-Mugello GP test, they seem to have changed the riding position quite drastically, putting more weight over the front and introducing a new electronics package, designed to unsettle the bike less – once which even Stoner has taken too.

Nick was well in the top-10 during most of practice, only to suffer a fall in the final moments of qualifying that smacked his wrist hard against the Spanish tarmac, hindering his grid position. “All in all it’s not a spectacular result but it’s definitely a step forward. I’m really looking forward to getting back on the bike for the test tomorrow and continuing to work down this path, which we think is the right one,” said Hayden after the race. Nicky is one of the hardest working riders in the paddock and will no doubt be riding from dawn till dusk and will have to be dragged off his Desmoscedici kicking and screaming at the Monday test.

The Moto2 class has been well over-subscribed for next year’s inaugural championship. We’ll have to wait a couple weeks until Assen for the provisional entry list, with teams being told that the details of bikes and riders are to be finalized by Estoril.

Ex-125cc world champion and 250cc refugee, Hungarian Gabor Talmacsi made his MotoGP debut this weekend in Spain on Yuki Takahashi’s spare Scot Racing Honda RC212V. The deal is for the remainder of the year, funding arriving in the way of Hungarian oil company Mol. Money talks and Talmacsi qualified and finished dead-last in his maiden weekend, lapping some four seconds slower than the pace setters. The question is: Can the small-machine-trained rider can adapt quickly to the premiere-class power? Though with him bringing that kind of money, does it really matter?

Last word goes to Valentino Rossi, who dedicated his win to Jerry Burgess whose Mother passed away this weekend. “Now I am going to sleep for quite a long time because I need to recover from all this excitement!” exclaimed Rossi. I expect tomorrow’s test will be well under way before the notoriously late riser Vale draws the curtains on his motor home and throws a leg over the M1….