Casey Stoner closed the gap on Jorge Lorenzo at the top of the MotoGP standings after a convincing victory in tricky conditions in Sunday’s Catalunya Grand Prix. The Repsol Honda rider mastered his rivals and a damp track to take a third victory in five races this season and move within seven points of Spain’s Lorenzo, who had to settle for second in front of his home fans.
Third place went to Ben Spies, the American taking his first podium finish of the year for the factory Yamaha squad. Andrea Dovizioso was fourth for Honda, ahead of Valentino Rossi (Ducati) and Marco Simoncelli, whose Gresini Honda appeared to lack the pace it showed when taking a surprise pole position yesterday. Britain’s Cal Crutchlow was seventh for the Tech 3 Yamaha team.
At the start, Stoner got the jump on the pole-sitter, Simoncelli, but he was still in second place heading into turn one, after Lorenzo made an even better getaway from third on his Yamaha. But Lorenzo’s time at the front was fleeting and by the end of the opening tour Stoner was lining up a pass which he completed into the first turn on lap two.
Stoner was rarely in trouble in the lead as he kept a comfortable gap to Lorenzo. Indeed it was only the weather which threatened to ruin the Australian’s day, with light drizzle making life difficult for the riders, although it never became heavy enough to necessitate wet-weather tyres.
Stoner said the leaden clouds and drizzle had made for a uneasy race. “We made a good start, we tried to get past as soon as we could,” he said. “We managed to pull an advantage and the bike started to work really well. Jorge got off to a good start and I had to wait until the end of the first lap to overtake him and then he couldn’t stay with me, fortunately.”
Lorenzo said: “The race was hard. It was tough to fight with Casey today.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (Gresini Honda) and Randy de Puniet (Pramac Ducati) were the race’s only retirements, after a collision at turn one.