MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix 2015: Jorge Lorenzo makes it four-in-a-row as Marc Marquez crashes again to see championship hopes fade

Lorenzo led home Rossi to secure a Yamaha one-two to cut the Italian's championship lead down to one point

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The Independent Online

At his home round in Catalunya, the Yamaha M1 of Jorge Lorenzo started from third position of the front row of the grid, beating the field to the first corner and going on to win the race.

Defending champion Marc Marquez badly needed a result but for the third time this year, crashed out. After a strong start, he chased Lorenzo down from second, but after running too hot into turn 10 on lap 2, went wide after a near miss with the back of Lorenzo and ended his race in the gravel.

From back in the pits, Marquez said of the crash: “I try to push a little bit more as I’m in a position where I have to take a risk. I made a mistake though, I lose points and the championship [title] will be difficult. But, I was able to be there, I did feel good, I felt strong to follow Jorge and I was on the limit. A small mistake, is a big problem”

In a shocking qualifying session yesterday, it was the factory Suzuki GSX-R’s of Aleix Espargaró and rookie Maverick Viñales who qualified on pole and second for the race, but got swallowed into the pack by the first corner. Espargaró managed to keep up with the front group, while team-mate Viñales dropped back to 13th. The pole sitter eventually found the gravel though, crashing out of the race from third.

Valentino Rossi, who always struggles to qualify well, started the race from the third row of the grid. He managed to claim two places on the first lap, then quickly climbed to fourth before he was given a podium position following Marquez’ crash. By the fourth lap, he overtook the Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso and began the hunt for Lorenzo. Already 1.5 seconds ahead, for the next 20 laps Rossi only managed to close the gap to 1.2 seconds.

Rossi said: “I hoped [to catch Lorenzo], unfortunately starting from the third row I lost a second in the first laps. I was happy with the pace and the setting, I think my speed is equal to Jorge in the race today, which is a good target as after seven races I think we’re the same and I think [the title] will be interesting. If I can start more at the front, then I can fight with Jorge and it will be fun to battle. 20 points today though is valuable for us”

Italian Dovizioso, who crashed out on lap five, now changes places in the championship standings with his compatriot and Ducati team-mate Andrea Iannone.

The sole remaining Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa had a lonely race as he dropped from sixth to ninth, then quietly made his way to the front runners and took the last step on the podium. This was his first rostrum finish of the season while he continues his recovery following surgery for serious ‘arm-pump’ issues.

Pedrosa said: “I’m very happy because it’s been a long progress, I struggled and have suffered, but finally a good result especially in front of the home crowd and the team. We’ve been struggling with the bike but I hope soon we can get better and start to ride with more consistency”

Battling for fourth and fifth places were Iannone and top British rider Bradley Smith. The Yamaha Tech 3 rider, who got a great start from eighth place went straight into fourth, before coming under pressure from the Italian.

“It was a good race, I’m certainly really happy with what I was able to do," said Smith afterwards. "It was tough, I was having moments everywhere, losing the front, losing the rear, now I have a 20 point lead on the other satellite riders though and I never thought I’d be saying I was one point behind Marc Marquez!”

Smith finished in fifth as top British rider once again as fellow countryman Cal Crutchlow, who was pushed off-line and into the dirt by Espargaro, crashed his Honda RC213v on the first lap.

Crutchlow said: “He hit me quite hard on the dirty part of the track, but I had already lost the rear brake line and my clutch was damaged. I'm disappointed obviously to not get any points, I know we would’ve had pace to run with Pedrosa.

"I’m pleased with our performance over the weekend though and look forward to Assen.”

In the open-class table, leader Héctor Barberá retired in the pits, pointing to front brake issues, leaving German rider Stefan Bradl to take the open-class win finishing in eighth position.

For race winner Lorenzo, it was his fourth consecutive victory this season, closing the gap to Valentino Rossi who maintains the lead in the Championship standings, but now only by one point.

Lorenzo said: “It’s very hot today, so it’s been hard to repeat the pace from yesterday morning. Rossi improved in these conditions and I got worse. I stayed focused, made no mistakes and Rossi made me push hard but it’s worked.

"The rear tyre was moving more and more in the maximum lean, but I thought, I’ll lose if I don’t push. With Marc, I felt him on in my bike, but I saw him in the corner of my eye and thought he went wide and continued, I didn’t know he crashed”

In Moto3, British rider Danny Kent took his fourth win of the season, maintaining his lead in the championship by 51 points.

The next race takes place at Assen in the Netherlands, the only race to take place on a Saturday – 27 June 2015.

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