Valentino Rossi wins the 2016 Grand Prix of Catalunya

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ONCE again, Valentino Rossi has made the impossible possible. Photo Credit - AP

ONCE again, Valentino Rossi has made the impossible possible. Photo Credit – AP

MotoGP logo W250The Doctor added a 114th victory to his career win tally with an emphatic triumph in the Grand Prix of Catalunya, despite falling as low as ninth on the opening lap. Rossi fought off Marc Marquez in their first proper bar-to-bar tussle since Sepang last year; this time, not only did they make it to the chequered flag unscathed, but the fierce rivals even shook hands afterwards sharing genuine smiles.

Dani Pedrosa finished just a few seconds in arrears to round out the podium, all donning matching black shirts carrying a tribute to fallen Moto2 rider Luis Salom, whose death in a practice crash on Friday cast a pall over the meeting.

Jack Miller claimed the best finish of his MotoGP career so far with a smart and speedy ride from the back row of the grid, fighting his way into 10th on the last lap. But for reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo, the day was a disaster. Lorenzo rocketed into the lead from the start and looked poised to turn in another of his trademark lights-to-flag demonstrations.

But the No. 99 Yamaha failed to creep more than a few bike lengths ahead of the pack, a charging Rossi dispensing with his teammate before the end of the seventh lap. From there Lorenzo sank like a stone, appearing to be struggling for grip from his Michelin front tyre. Andrea Iannone added to his misery by crashing them both out of the race on Lap 17.

But the focus by that point was very much on the scrap for the lead. Marquez kept within a second of Rossi once they hit the lead and began to close in as the halfway point neared. On two occasions the Repsol Honda surged into the lead, only for Rossi to strike back immediately.

Rossi dedicates MotoGP win to rider who died in Barcelona. Photo Credit - AP

Rossi dedicates MotoGP win to rider who died in Barcelona. Photo Credit – AP

The matter was settled only a couple of laps from home, a pair of big moments encouraging Marquez to settle for second and its substantial haul of 20 world championship points. Pedrosa, too, fought his way to the podium. On a medium tyre to everyone else’s hard, he fought off Maverick Vinales in a race-long duel, while Pol Espargaro rounded out the top five.

It was not a day to be on a Ducati. None of the Desmosedicis — factory or satellite — looked poised to challenge for any of the top three positions. Andrea Dovizioso was the best in seventh, one place behind Cal Crutchlow. Alvaro Bautista gave encouraging signs the Aprilia’s form is on the rise, charging up to eighth in the closing laps to record his third top 10 finish of the season.

Marquez, Rossi and Pedrosa wore Salom tribute shirts on the podium. Photo Credit - AP

Marquez, Rossi and Pedrosa wore Salom tribute shirts on the podium. Photo Credit – AP

Danilo Petrucci once impressed on his way to ninth, while Miller won a last-lap squabble between he and Hector Barbera to claim the final spot in the top 10 after the Spaniard was penalised for short-cutting the final chicane. Marquez now leads the standings once again, 10 markers ahead of Lorenzo while Rossi sits a further 12 adrift in third.

The MotoGP World Championship now enjoys a day’s testing at Catalunya before a three week break, retuning to action for the Dutch TT at Assen on Sunday, June 26. – FoxSports.com.au

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