Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder this year, along comes Catalunya with its worn-out tarmac and sub-tropical temperatures to provide Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati with their second win in seven days. Now Dovi hasn’t ever won two in a row, not even in 2004, his 125cc world championship year, and Ducati haven’t done that since Casey Stoner. The factory Hondas, always happier than most on low-grip tracks, followed him home with Marc Marquez failing to add to his tally of five crashes for the weekend (plus tripping over his starter motor in pit lane).
When circumstances throw up such a weird set of conditions you always look to the men with experience to make the best of them. That group of course includes Dovi but also Valentino Rossi. He managed to improve on his terrible qualifying but the ‘nightmare’ of a medium tyre that would last seven laps and a hard that wouldn’t grip at all consigned him to the lower reaches of the top ten on one of his favourite tracks and where he won last year. His team mate was well behind him yet the satellite Yamahas were well in front of him. Valentino says this year’s bike cannot be ridden in the same ‘natural’ way as the old one, which, given that Folger broke the lap record, may explain why the factory is testing two new chassis Monday/Tuesday.
Yet again Jorge Lorenzo had an intriguing race. It looked like Mugello all over again when he led the first five laps but once overtaken dropped back rapidly through the field. This time he had something left and in what was billed as a test of tyre conservation ripped back up to fourth place in the closing laps, on the last lap circulating a second faster than anyone else. While that does make you wonder if he was too cautious at some point this was the first time he’d finished with ten seconds of the winner this year. So: first rostrum at Jerez, leads for the first time at Mugello, first front row at Catalunya plus the race.
No wonder he looked happy, the graph is going in the right direction.