Thrilling battle as Rossi dominates Marquez, and Iannone takes out Lorenzo.
BOUNCING back in the best possible way after his cruel engine failure at Mugello, superstar Valentino Rossi was in brilliant touch in the Grand Prix of Calalunya, destroying the three Spanish threats on their home track.
Another poor start upped Rossi’s degree of difficulty. From fifth on the grid, he slipped to eighth in the usual scramble into the first corner. His Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo led the field away with Honda pair Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa pushing hard as Ducati’s Andrea Iannone charged through from further back.
Rossi went on the chase immediately, overtaking a bunch of quick riders to land in a potential podium position behind Lorenzo and Marquez. Surprisingly, and in no time at all, Marquez and Rossi flew past Lorenzo, who was clearly struggling with tyre grip and dropped to fifth.
On lap seven, Rossi claimed the lead from Marquez, but the Spaniard wasn’t easy to shake. It was nail-biting, on-the-edge stuff as they gapped the rest.
It was about to get worse for the reigning champion. On Lap 17 Iannone’s rash passing move on the Yamaha went very wrong, and both crashed heavily. Lorenzo was rightly furious, a points haul gone. Stewards penalised the contrite Iannone, who will now start from last place in Assen.
At the pointy end, Rossi and Marquez went into the closing stages only metres apart in a dramatic duel in the sunshine. Marquez slipstreamed past with two remaining but Rossi, aged 37 may we remind you, pounced on the penultimate lap in turn seven. A small mistake from Marquez resolved proceedings.
The pair, bitter enemies following an incident last year, sportingly shook hands afterwards, the sad death of Moto2 rider Luis Salom on Friday possibly a bonding agent. Marquez has a consolation prize; he now again leads the world championship.
Australian Jack Miller had his best race for some time, finishing 11th, battling as high as 10th at one point.
Reigning world Moto2 champ Johann Zarco was at his thinking, strategic best at Catalunya, pouncing past early leader Alex Rins in the closing stages to romp away to an easy win. Zarco seems destined to graduate to MotoGP next year, either with Suzuki or Tech3 Yamaha.
Remy Gardner, son of Wayne, finished 15th on his Moto2 debut, scoring a championship point.
The typical small-class action lasted down to the flag in yet another thrilling Moto3 race, with Jorge Navarro taking a breakthrough victory from Brad Binder and Enea Bastianini.
IndyCars: Montoya talks the talk, Power walks the walk
Will Power responded to a pointed whinge from Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya in the best possible fashion at the weekend of IndyCar’s Belle Isle Grand Prix in Detroit, coming back from a character-building Saturday to bank a satisfying victory on Sunday.
On Saturday, Montoya condemned an overly bold overtaking move by the Aussie during the opening leg of the weekend’s double header, delivering a verbal serve.
Montoya, who finished third behind Sebastien Bourdais and Conor Daly Penske in the Dual 1 race, believes Power “is a little desperate right now for results,” creating some extra tension among the four-driver Penske squad.
The two former IndyCar champions nearly banged together with Montoya opting for a self-preservation adjustment to avoid collecting a barrier.
“He actually nearly ruined my race, (but) I was smart enough to know how aggressive and how far he’s willing to go. It’s kind of crazy, but it’s his choice,” Montoya told the Indy Star.
Power was classified 20th after his right rear wheel lug nut came off.
A day later, Power raced to victory in the second leg of the Dual in Detroit…and Montoya crashed out.
The Queenslander set the fastest time in qualifying but was relegated to sixth for allegedly blocking.
Teammate Pagenaud was elevated to pole and led the buzzing pack away.
A series of incidents turned the race on its head, upsetting some race strategies, particularly that of race leader Helio Castroneves. Pitting under the safety car, he slipped to 14th.
Power passed Pagenaud soon after the restart. Athough the Frenchman pushed hard on the final lap, the Aussie hung on to record his first win of the season.
Moto2: Spanish star dies after practice crash
The dangers inherent in motor sport – particularly that of the two-wheeled variety – were sadly emphasised on Friday at Catalunya, when popular Spaniard Luis Salom was fatally injured in a high-speed crash at turn 12 during practice for the Moto2 round of the world championship.
Medical help was immediate, and Salom was treated trackside for some time before being relayed to the nearby Hospital General de Catalunya. On arrival, he underwent surgery, but despite the best efforts of the trauma team, he died at 4.55pm local time.
Salom was a talented rider. He made his world championship debut at Jerez in 2009 in the 125cc category and finished on the podium in 25 races, including nine victories in the Moto3 world championship. He finished the 2012 Moto3 World Championship in second position in the standings and a year later was third overall after battling with Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins down to the final round in Valencia.
Salom also finished on the podium three times in 41 appearances in the Moto2 world championship, including a second place in the opening round of 2016 in Qatar.
The tragedy prompted the FIM to take the decision on Friday night to reconfigure the circuit to include the chicane used by Formula One.
Le Mans 24hr: Aussies in final shakedown
Mark Webber and Ryan Briscoe, the only Australians on the entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, joined the full 60-car entry at Le Sarthe on June 5 to participate in the obligatory last-chance test shakedown before the world’s greatest sportscar race on June 18-19.
Webber is part of a three-man crew driving a works Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 prototype. Big guns Porsche, Audi and Toyota all have two-car teams entered for the 24 Hour race.
Briscoe is driving one of four LM GTE Pro Ford GTs for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Audi topped the practice times on a day when the main objective was to give the teams the opportunity to properly test their cars on the 13.629km Le Mans 24-Hours circuit. The Webber Porsche was second-fastest.
The one big incident came in the closing hour when Brazilian Ozz Negri lost control of his Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda on the entry into the Michelin Chicane, following a suspected mechanical failure for the LMP2 contender. Negri escaped injury in the big crash.
The compulsory test day was reserved exclusively for the cars entered in the race, and for those drivers who have never raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours or have not been on the list of confirmed drivers since 2011.
The entry is the usual strange mix topped by high-profile ex-F1 pilots down to the gentleman drivers who are a solid (economic) part of international sportscar racing.
The headliners are no doubt Webber, Nick Heidfeld, Bruno Senna, Sebastien Bourdais, Jan Magnussen, and Kamui Kobayashi – all with grand prix starts on their CV. At the test day too were familiar names from sportscar and formula racing – Briscoe, Brendon Hartley, Romain Dumas, Nelson Piquet Jr, Rene Rast, Sébastien Buemi, Romain Dumas, Benoît Tréluyer, and Lucas di Grassi.
There was also great interest in those who made their names in other ways but were drawn to motorsport and Le Mans – Olympic cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy, quadri-amputee Frédéric Sausset aiming to achieve his dream, and the two female racers, Ines Taitinger and Christina Nielsen.
In other news, Porsche has reverted to last year's specification of battery for Le Mans and the remainder of the 2016 World Endurance Championship.
The decision came following the hybrid system problems that struck one of its 919 cars at the recent WEC round at Spa.
Blaming a production problem, Porsche said the decision to go back to an older spec of cells used in 2015 was an easy one, reliability being a priority at Le Mans.