The MotoGP Catalan GP was pretty much decided in the opening few laps after Honda’s Jorge Lorenzo collected Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales & Valentino Rossi.
After his Japan visit, Lorenzo came into his home MotoGP event at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona with a renewed confidence and made it into Q2 straight up, without having to go through Q1. He made a flying start as well to be with the leading pack.
However, it was short-lived as when he tried for a move on Lap 2 at Turn 10 in the left-hander, he slipped while taking along Dovizioso, Vinales and Rossi. His Honda MotoGP bike hit the rear of Dovizioso, who collected Vinales then as Rossi ran over the Honda then.
The Spaniard immediately took the blame but insisted it wasn’t an out of control move after his teammate Marc Marquez passed Dovizioso in the same corner just before the incident. He visited the MotoGP garages of both Ducati and Yamaha after the race.
Lorenzo did manage to apologise to Ducati’s team official and Dovizioso as well. At Yamaha though, he couldn’t meet the riders in person but met and apologised the team members. Among the riders, while Rossi was OK, Vinales and Dovizioso wanted stricter action.
His demands weren’t met though as the FIM Stewards cleared him of any deliberate action. Meanwhile, Lorenzo spoke at length to the media including FormulaRapida.net: “I made a good start, recovering a lot of positions, and I felt very good on the bike.
“Better than the rest of the weekend and I was recovering a lot on braking. Then in the previous acceleration, Maverick needed to close the throttle to not hit Marc, so I took advantage of this, using his slipstream and preparing an overtake.
“But probably I tried to overtake Maverick in the wrong moment, in the wrong place, especially. I knew this was a tricky corner, like the first corner at Austin, which is very similar. And I saw many crashes like this in all the categories.
“It happened to me also in 2016 with Iannone, so probably I was too excited, knowing that I was feeling good and I just felt that I could go faster and faster. I didn’t make any crazy braking. I was more-or-less alongside Maverick and I braked quite normally.
“The problem was that we were too many riders. In front was Dovi, who prepared very well to exit the corner, with a wide entry. So I was getting closer and closer to Dovi and to not hit him I needed to brake more and the front tyre closed.
“I think the same moment, in another corner, would not happen. Also if I didn’t try to overtake in that moment it wouldn’t happen. So it was a combination of factors. Obviously the worst thing, more than my crash, is that I made the three others crash.
“And because they are fighting for the championship which I am not, so it doesn’t matter if I crash. I had made a good start, but I would love just to crash alone this time. No apology is enough in that moment. You need to say sorry, you need to apologise.
“But I understand that any apology isn’t enough and it’s a big pity. In my favour I would say this type of corner created a lot of problems in the past, created a lot of problems today and will do again in the future.
My opinion is that this [design] of corner, hairpin, creates these crashes and we saw it many times. Probably today I didn’t pay enough attention to that. Especially in the first laps when it’s better to be a little bit more cautious in these type of corners.
“It was not an aggressive overtake, but the thing was that Dovizioso was in front – it was my mistake. I understand Maverick’s reaction because in the past it has happened to me and I had a similar reaction to him.
“So I understand completely his reaction, I cannot say anything. Obviously I’m grateful that Valentino more-or-less said what I said. I also spoke with Dovi and he took my apology quite correctly but obviously no apology is enough.
“I understand all the reactions. I have had bad reactions or hard reactions in the past when it happened to me. This is racing. I’ll try to learn the lesson for these types of corners in the future. I cannot change the past. Especially, I’m sorry for them.”
Vinales certainly sounded livid with the situation, he said: “You can overtake me on the straight where we are slow, you only need to wait four corners. He took out four riders. If he took out somehow myself or Valentino, we are not fighting for the championship.
“That can be a racing incident, but not so bad. But he took out also Andrea who is fighting for the championship. He destroyed my race, Valentino’s race and Dovizioso’s championship. It’s pretty hard to recover 25 points.
“I hope Race Direction is as severe as they were with me for qualifying, so back of the grid [for Assen, I would say]. If I’m honest, I saw him on the inside and I tried to avoid the crash, but a bike touched my rear tyre and I just flew. It was impossible.
“This corner is always difficult but come on. Also, on the warm-up lap he made me one inside overtake without reason. I didn’t understand why he would do that on the warm-up lap, it is the same I had in Mugello with Miller on the warm-up lap.
“If you ask me it looks like a rookie mistake and he is a five-time world champion. You have to think on the bike even if he is a great rider. You cannot win the race in two laps. With the power he has on the bike he can understand he can overtake me on the straight,.
“I’m disappointed for that. For me it’s not an excuse.” His teammate Rossi took a measured approach in his statement though, while calling the incident a ‘shame’. “It’s a great, great, great shame because I feel very good because I arrive from a good weekend,” he said.
“We work well during the practice. We learn something important and I feel comfortable with the bike. Also this morning if I have the medium I have a good pace, I was constant, I feel good in braking and I enjoy to ride the M1. So I was very optimistic for the race.
“Sincerely, in the first two laps, so the warm-up lap and the first lap I feel also better because with more temperature the medium tyre was working very well. We stayed until 9 PM on Saturday to make the right tyre choice.
“I think we had the right tyre choice so I think that I can fight for the podium. But I was behind Petrucci, I was a bit faster than him and I wanted to try to overtake but I overtook in the wrong moment because I arrived faster to Turn 10.
“And after I saw the crash in front and unfortunately I could not avoid Lorenzo bike. I tried not to crash but the bike came below my tyres and at the end I also crashed. I have a bit of pain in my ankle because my foot remained between the two bikes, but it’s like this.
“This is racing and sometimes it happens. For me, it is for the race direction to decide if it warrants a penalty or not, I cannot say much.” While the Yamaha riders only lost points for themselves and the team, but Dovizioso’s MotoGP title chances got hurt.
The Italian already missed crucial points in Mugello and in Barcelona, he has none to show which created a 37 points gap. The Italian was a bit somber while speaking to the MotoGP press and when asked about the championship chances, he said they will keep fighting.
“That mistake what Lorenzo did is not crazy but from him in that corner in the second lap is because he wasn’t losing enough and not because Jorge is not good on the braking or not able to manage that braking,” said Dovizioso.
“What is bad this season is Marc is really a smart guy and he can race without pushing 100 percent and get second position too like last year. This year, we wanted to push him to the limit and before this race we were to put him on the limit.
“Everybody can make mistake but it is what it is. If I think like Jorge cost me the championship then I’ll not race the next race, for sure I’ll take it as a sport and we are strong and we will continue to push through.
“The only bad thing as I said is that Marc has a big gap now and in this situation, it is not easy to gain lot of points to Marc but we keep pushing.” Marquez, meanwhile, stated that Lorenzo wasn’t out of control per say and that incidents like this can happen in MotoGP.