Catalan GP: Marquez victorious in final lap three-way thriller with Pedrosa and Rossi
Tensions were sky high at the start of the 7th Grand Prix of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship as storm clouds began to roll in and around the hills surrounding the Montmeló circuit, outside Barcelona. Pole sitter Dani Pedrosa, with Lorenzo and white-wash winner so far this year, Marc Marquez beside him, were all preparing for the very distinct possibility of a flag-to-flag race.
Under dry conditions, the race got underway with Pedrosa getting his usual rocket start off the line, but fell victim to a rejuvenated Lorenzo’s demonic braking into the first corner. Marquez and Valentino Rossi closely followed the Spanish duo with the quartet swapping positions numerous times over the course of the opening laps.
By the fifth lap, the leading pack settled somewhat as Rossi had the lead loosely in his grasp, followed by the Spanish trio along with Stefan Bradl. The 9-time world champion maintained the lead for the next 9 laps with the Repsol Honda pair behind him swapping paint and tripping each other up every now and then, allowing Lorenzo to attach his tow rope onto the RC213Vs once more. On the 13th circulation, Marquez made his first real mistake of the race, almost clipping the back of Rossi’s M1 Yamaha while heading into turn one. The reigning champion was forced to cut the chicane and concede a position to his fellow countryman and team mate, Pedrosa.
With 10 laps to go, lightening flashed around the circuit with clouds ever darkening and thunder shaking the walls of the paddock – a potentially colossal shake up looked imminent. With 19 laps on the board and as the leaders flowed round turn three, it looked like the lurking storm had arrived with Pedrosa and Marquez sitting up and raising their hands somewhat frantically, allowing Rossi back through into the lead after both had passed him in the first two corners. However, as the factory machines pressed on through the next corners and heart rates calmed down a smidgen, it emerged that the Repsol Hondas had passed Rossi under a yellow flag and had let him back in front in order to avoid a penalty…
The next time around, Marquez made a near carbon-copy move on Rossi (legally, this time) and managed to make it stick despite some retaliatory manoeuvres from the veteran; Pedrosa followed suit a couple of laps later as he looked to overthrow his team mate’s reign over the 2014 season so far.
On the final lap, fans were treated to yet another Moto Grand Prix spectacle, like the one they witnessed at Mugello just a fortnight ago, as team mates Pedrosa and Marquez overtook each other no less than four times in seemingly desperate bids for the win. Into turn 11, just two corners from the finish, Pedrosa looked to be making a final lunge at his team mate, only for his front wheel to kiss Marquez’s rear Bridgestone tyre, nearly sending Pedrosa into the gravel traps with presumably soiled leathers. Rossi meanwhile, could only look on in amazement as he was unfortunately a tad too far behind the leading duo to pick up any pieces. Marquez crossed the line visibly ecstatic followed by Pedrosa, Rossi and Lorenzo a few seconds down the road.
LRC Honda’s Stefan Bradl finished in 5th ahead of Aleix Espargaro, who was pursued all the way to the line by brother – Pol. Andrea Dovizioso finished in 8th, followed by Iannone, Smith, Hernandez, Hayden, Scott Redding – who was demoted from 12th after an illegal cutting-chicane incident during the race. Pirro and Aoyama rounded out the top 15.
Cal Crutchlow’s mechanical woes continued as the Brit was forced to pull in from the race after the first 10 laps as a result of another technical problem with the Desmosedici GP14.
Following the race, an indescribably elated Marc Marquez told motogp.com:
“Of course today was more difficult than Mugello, as the Yamaha riders were very strong early in the race. I was struggling a little bit but then I caught Valentino. I made a mistake in turn one and after that I lost maybe a second and I was catching Vale again. The last laps were so nice, the fans helped a lot. It was really special to fight the last laps with Dani and Valentino. It was also special to win on the same day as my brother, he did an incredible race. Also in Moto2 Tito Rabat won, I felt more pressure because if I didn’t win they would tease me a lot!”