MONTMELO, Spain - Reuters
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo celebrates on the podium after winning the Catalunya Grand Prix in Montmelo ahead of Pedrosa and Dovizioso. AFP photo
Jorge Lorenzo tightened his grip on the MotoGP championship lead when the Spanish Yamaha rider came out on top in a battle with compatriot Dani Pedrosa to win the Catalunya Grand Prix yesterday.
Under dark skies and with spots of rain falling on the Montmelo track, Lorenzo snatched the lead with just under six laps left and pulled away from Honda’s Pedrosa to secure his third victory in five races this season.
Italian Andrea Dovizioso was third on his Yamaha, with Pedrosa’s Honda teammate and defending champion Casey Stoner of Australia fourth and Britain’s Cal Crutchlow, another Yamaha rider, fifth.
After planting his signature flag in the gravel in front of his ecstatic fans, Lorenzo told Spanish television it was “fantastic” to win in front of home support.
“It was a finely balanced race,” added the flamboyant 25-year-old, the 2010 MotoGP champion.
“I didn’t want to do anything crazy as we were riding very close together and there was a danger of colliding and ending up on the ground.
“I had to wait for my chance and as you saw I managed to get past him.”
Lorenzo’s victory extended his lead over Stoner in the standings to 20 points and the Spaniard now has 115 after five of 18 races. Stoner, who said last month he would retire at the end of the season after falling out of love with the sport, has 95 and Pedrosa 85.
Pedrosa admitted to being “a bit disappointed” with his race, especially after he rocketed from fifth on the grid to lead into the opening corner.
“I thought I would be able to perform better towards the end of the race but I had to settle for second,” he told Spanish TV.
“I tried my hardest but I found it very hard to control the bike when braking on the final laps.”
Pedrosa got a terrific start bursting past those in front of him on the grid including Cal Crutchlow and the two riders on the front row, Lorenzo and Stoner.
Pedrosa was closely followed by Ben Spies on a Yamaha as Lorenzo dropped back to third and Stoner in fifth.
Pedrosa carried on in front until Lorenzo swooped with 19 laps remaining to pass him and unlike his Yamaha teammate did not make an error on taking the lead - Stoner along with his Honda teammate had been the only riders to opt for hard tyres but unlike Pedrosa he was struggling and was trailing in fourth.
Lorenzo rediscovered his rhythm and within five laps had regained all the ground he had lost on Pedrosa and was right up on the Honda rider’s shoulder.
Lorenzo was probing the whole time at his rival and was repelled on several occasions before he finally got the better of him with six laps remaining and from then on he cruised to victory as Pedrosa eased off.