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MotoGP Trendspotting: Grand Prix Of Catalunya

Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha Factory Racing won the Grand Prix of Catalunya on Sunday, June 16, the sixth of 18 events in the 2013 MotoGP World Championship that includes the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 16-18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But it’s time to take a look beyond the results sheets for trends after this race.

Lorenzo Dominates, But Power Shortage On Horizon?: Jorge Lorenzo dominated the Catalunya Grand Prix, taking the lead at the start and never trailing en route to beating rival Dani Pedrosa to the finish by 1.763 seconds. Lorenzo pulled to within seven points of Pedrosa in the World Championship standings with his second consecutive victory and third of the season.

But trouble may loom for reigning World Champion Lorenzo and Yamaha Factory Racing.

Lorenzo and teammate Valentino Rossi each have raced with four of the five engines that each MotoGP rider is allowed to use each season. There are still 12 races left this season, so it’s uncertain whether Lorenzo or Rossi can make it to the season finale Nov. 10 in Valencia, Spain, without needing a sixth engine.

If either rider needs a sixth engine, he must start that event from the pit lane instead of the starting grid, putting at the rear of the field entering Turn 1.

So there’s a chance that a straight-up fight between Lorenzo and Pedrosa could be decided on an engine technicality and not on the track.

Pedrosa’s Problems: Dani Pedrosa dominated qualifying at this event, winning the pole by an astonishing six-tenths of a second with a track-record lap on his Repsol Honda.

But then the temperature increased on Race Day, and Pedrosa dropped to second behind title rival Jorge Lorenzo almost immediately, fighting for the rest of the race to hold off rookie teammate Marc Marquez for second.

Two-time MotoGP World Champion Lorenzo has won the last two races with relative ease, and Pedrosa – in search of his first MotoGP world title in his eighth season – also is facing a strong intra-team challenge from Marquez.

Pedrosa leads the World Championship by seven points over Lorenzo. But his grip on the points lead appears to be loosening, with Lorenzo ready to take command with his imperious form.

Hayden’s Heartbreak: American Nicky Hayden was building his strongest weekend of the season before he lost the front end of his Ducati and crashed out of the race on Lap 6.

Hayden qualified fifth, his best starting spot since the Italian Grand Prix in July 2012. He was running a strong fifth, having passed the factory-spec Honda of Stefan Bradl, when he stayed on the front brake too long entering a corner and fell on the hot, greasy track at Barcelona.

Still, 2006 MotoGP World Champion Hayden outqualified teammate Andrea Dovizioso for the second time this season as Ducati continues to improve its GP13 machine.

Suzuki Is Back – in 2015
: As expected, Suzuki announced June 17 it was returning to the MotoGP World Championship. But the timetable wasn’t expected, as the company once again will race in MotoGP in 2015, one year later than expected.

Suzuki officials claimed they want to use the extra year to develop its 1000cc, inline four-cylinder GSX-R motorcycle against proven and existing factory competitors Honda, Yamaha and Ducati. Suzuki withdrew its one-bike factory from the World Championship after the 2011 season, claiming the lingering effects from the worldwide economic meltdown.

MotoGP veteran Randy de Puniet tested Suzuki’s GSX-R prototype against other factory teams for the first time June 17 at Barcelona, and the bike performed well.

De Puniet was eighth overall, only .772 of a second behind leader Jorge Lorenzo’s Yamaha. De Puniet’s Suzuki was just .163 of a second slower than the factory Yamaha of seven-time World Champion Valentino Rossi.

Tornado Warning: American Colin Edwards finished ninth on his NGM Mobile Forward Racing FTR-Kawasaki, his first top-10 finish since he started riding production-based Claiming Rules Team machinery at the start of the 2012 season.

Edwards’ previous best this season was 14th on June 2 at the Grand Prix of Italy. His best last year was 11th.

Claiming Rules Team machinery is less expensive than prototype bikes, but it also has lower-powered engines and less sophisticated electronics.

TOP FIVE FINISHERS (Grand Prix of Catalunya, Montmelo, Spain):

1.    Jorge Lorenzo    Yamaha Factory Racing
2.    Dani Pedrosa    Repsol Honda Team
3.    Marc Marquez    Repsol Honda Team
4.    Valentino Rossi    Yamaha Factory Racing
5.    Stefan Bradl    LCR Honda MotoGP

American finishers: Colin Edwards, NGM Mobile Forward Racing, ninth; Nicky Hayden, Ducati Team, not classified.

TOP FIVE POINTS:

1.    Dani Pedrosa    123
2.    Jorge Lorenzo    116
3.    Marc Marquez      93
4.    Cal Crutchlow      71
5.    Valentino Rossi      60

American points: Nicky Hayden, seventh; 45; Colin Edwards, 17th, 10; Ben Spies, 18th; 9.

NEXT RACE:

TT Assen, June 29, TT Circuit Assen, Assen, Netherlands


***


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