So Jorge does four in a row and breaks the record for number of consecutive laps led and along the way he reduces Valentino Rossi’s championship lead to one single, solitary point. How come Valentino didn’t seem too upset? Because for the first time in those four races, he matched Jorge’s race pace. But that of course brings us back to the problem of Valentino’s qualifying. You can’t start from the third row and expect to catch Lorenzo if he’s starting from the front row. But that’s what Rossi almost achieved at Catalunya. It took twenty laps for Jorge to open a gap of fractionally over two seconds, after which Valentino reduced it to under a second in the final five laps.
You should never say things like this about racing, but here goes… if there had been two more laps…
As in previous races, Valentino knew from early on that he would be using the harder rear tyre and that he would have great pace in the closing stages. But again he had no answer for his qualifying problems, which were exacerbated by not just the Ducatis on soft tyres but by the Suzukis as well. One place further up the grid would have put him on the second row.
Rossi fans should be happy that the next race is at Assen.
[pullquote]You should never say things like this about racing, but here goes… if there had been two more laps…[/pullquote]
Remember 2013? That was the bright spot in his otherwise underwhelming return to Yamaha. True, injuries to his opponents made Vale’s job easier, but it was still a triumph.
As it had to be. If not Assen, then where? The same applies this year; can you see a circuit more likely to suit Valentino and the Yamaha than Assen? At least until we get to Phillip Island. If Valentino can’t retain his championship lead in the Netherlands, he’s in trouble. There are too many new circuits in the second half of the year, he’s no longer good—by his own admission—at getting to grips with new tracks, although last year’s Silverstone rostrum did alter his opinion about the British GP returning to Donington. There are also a few tracks where you know Marquez will bite back—Indy, Aragon, Sepang—and if Ducati are going to win one, Motegi would be a good bet.
Once again, Assen is a crucial race for Valentino Rossi.