Moto3 Spanish GP Review: Canet Delivers At Last

Two weeks ago, a rider was thrown from his machine whilst leading the Americas Grand Prix. He sat, dazed on the painted run-off area, regathering his bearings and wondering how it could have gone wrong. Fast forward to now: Sunday 7th May and that same rider, Aron Canet, is crossing the finish line to take his maiden grand prix victory after a thrilling battle. To make matters sweeter, it’s his home race as well. In his own words: “The best day of my life!”

The Estrella-Galicia rider had been looking strong all weekend in the sessions leading up to the race, qualifying on the front row of the grid in P2. Canet got a good start as the lights went out, surviving the usual shenanigans on the drag down to the first corner, and holding his own in the leading group. The Spaniard was content to sit back in the early stages as fellow protagonists Romano Fenati, Joan Mir, Darryn Binder and Marcos Ramirez diced it out at the front. The latter two of these caught the eyes of spectators and pundits alike as, unlike the other three, were riding privateer KTM bikes as opposed to machines powered by factory outfits.

It was a classic Moto3 race in many respects: the leading group numbered twelve riders, there was slipstreaming galore down the back straight into the Dry Sack hairpin, and up the long main straight out of the final corner. The lead of the race changed hands as frequently as the laps were chalked off. Joan Mir, seeking to increase his hold on the championship, took the lead with 10 laps to go and upped the tempo. The lead group of twelve, suddenly became just five. Mir led the charge going into the final lap, but was beaten up by Ramirez and Fenati and forced out wide on a number of occasions. This ultimately put paid to his hopes of victory, but a last lunge up the inside of the KTM rider secured him a hard fought podium finish.

Having been rejuvenated since his move from the VR|46 team last year, Fenati (Marinello Rivacold Snipers Team) looked the man to beat for much of the race. The Italian was back fighting with everyone who’d dare pass him for the lead. Binder would discover how hard Fenati is prepared to defend his track position, when the two came together at the infamous Turn 13 hairpin. The South African slid out into the gravel, but was able to remount and continue. Replays proved that the incident was caused by aggressive defending and an overly ambitious attempt to overtake from both parties. A racing incident, no more – no less. Both will fight again for victory another day.

It was however a weekend to forget for British Talent Team’s John McPhee. The Scot had struggled to find a setup for the bike which worked around the Jerez circuit. A disastrous qualifying session on Saturday, meant that the Brit had to start the race from way back on the ninth row in P25. The race began more promisingly, with the 22-year old from Oban managed to haul his machine up to thirteenth, leading the chasing pack before losing the front end under braking at turn 1, and crashing out. The non-finish meant McPhee slipped from second to fourth overall in the championship. He now trails the leader, Mir, by 25 points.

But the day undoubtedly belonged to Canet. The victory has been on the cards for a while now. Ever since his points scoring debut at Qatar in 2016, it has been clear that Canet is abundant with talent. A rostrum finish, multiple fourth of fifth places and a pole position from his rookie season provided the strong basis to work on heading into 2017. Now with victory at the Spanish Grand Prix added to his growing CV, Canet and his team will be hoping to press on and challenge for the title.

Eddie Hocknull @EddieHocknull

Marquez Breaks Morbidelli’s Spell

 

In front of an ecstatic, partisan home crowd, Alex Marquez claimed his maiden Grand Prix victory in the intermediate class today, ending the early season domination of his team-mate Franco Morbidelli.

Venue: Circuito de Jerez de la Frontera

Race Distance: 71.5 miles (26 Laps)

Weather: Dry, Sunny.

Starting from pole, the Estrella-Galicia MarcVDS rider was rarely troubled as he produced a near faultless performance at the Spanish Grand Prix. Marquez had looked the faster of the two all weekend, with the circuit seeming to suit his trail-braking riding style perfectly. Despite one mistake, running wide at the sweeping turn 5, he had the measure of Morbidelli. Having briefly lost the lead to his team-mate, Marquez refound his rhythm and homed in on the championship leader.

In contrast, Franco Morbidelli seemed less of his composed self throughout the weekend, which culminated in a very uncharacteristic crash on lap 9, ending his race early. It may have been his first non-finish of the season and, having taken victory in the three previous rounds he still maintains a decent lead in the standings. Nevertheless, the question can now be asked as to whether Morbidelli has the mental strength to keep Marquez at bay for the rest of the championship. Given the performance levels of the MarcVDS machine, it looks increasingly likely that the battle for the World title will be an in-house affair.

Filling the remainder of the podium were Sky-VR|46’s Francesco Bagnaia and KTM’s Miguel Oliveira in second and third places respectively. Both riders continue to impress, particularly Bagnaia, who is in his rookie season in the championship. The 20-year old from Turin, who started from the second row on the grid, looked as if he’d been riding the 600cc prototype machine for years, comfortably fending off numerous attacks from the vastly more experienced Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team). Oliveira once more produced a strong race to support his efforts from qualifying on Saturday. The Portuguese rider was understandably ecstatic post-race and paid tribute to his mechanics for providing him with “the orange-rocket”. Both he and Bagnaia left Jerez quietly confident that it will not be too long before they get their turns to stand on the top step of the podium.

Behind, it was a case of damage limitation for pre-season favourite, Thomas Luthi. The Swiss rider had endured a pretty torrid weekend and started the race in P12 following a disastrous qualifying session. After the opening lap, it looked like it was going to be a completely barren result for the CarXpert-Interwetten rider, having lost touch with the front runners. Luthi needed to call upon all of his experience to bring the bike home in a credible P8. Damage limited but needs a much stronger showing next time out in Le Mans.

Finally, it was an excellent result for AGR’s sole Moto2 entrant, Yonny Hernandez. The former premier class rider has endured a difficult start to life in the intermediate category, and seemed destined for more of the same after qualifying in P22. From there, the Columbian carved his way through the field, passing multiple established competitors (Takaaki Nakagami, Hafiz Syahrin, Lorenzo Balderssarri etc) to finish P9. Just the breakthrough needed to set himself and the team up nicely for the European leg of the season.

Eddie Hocknull @EddieHocknull

Moto2 Race Preview: Day of Reckoning Awaits Marquez

With the Grand-Prix paddock now back for the long European leg of the season, one question has been on everybody’s lips: Can anyone stop Franco Morbidelli?

Judging from Friday’s practice and Saturday’s qualifying sessions, the answer is yes.

Alex Marquez (Estrella-Galicia MarcVDS team) has been in irresistible form so far this weekend, finishing as the fastest rider in all three free practice sessions. The Spaniard claimed pole position in a frenetic qualifying session ahead of his team-mate, Franco Morbidelli, by 0.043 of a second. With riders tripping over each other, Marquez was very nearly undone by Tech3’s Remy Gardner, when their bikes made contact in the latter stages of the session. Having squandered the chance to claim victory in Argentina, Marquez will be desperate to take the spoils in front of the Spanish crowd. Additionally, a win here will not only silence the doubters, but also get his championship challenge firmly back on track.

Whilst the MarcVDS team have been fighting almost exclusively so far for victory, the KTM outfit continue to push as best of the rest. All the more impressive when one considers that this is the Austrian team’s maiden season in the class. Miguel Oliveira, will start Sunday’s race heading up the second row of the grid in P4. Having moved across from the Leopard outfit at the end of last season to join KTM, the Portuguese rider continues to go from strength to strength in Moto2 and is quietly confident of a podium finish in the race.

It was an equally impressive qualifying display from the Sky-VR|46 team, as rookie Francesco Bagnaia secured a place on the second row in P6. The Italian has won almost universal praise from supporters and onlookers alike this season. Having been promoted from Moto3 the 20-year old from Turin has not just settled into the category, but is already a regular points scorer so far this season. Having surpassed his previous best qualifying performance (P9 in Qatar), a podium finish would not be impossible on Sunday by any stretch of the imagination.

It was a difficult day for the likes of Luca Marini (Forward-Racing) and Thomas Luthi (CarXpert-Interwetten). The latter has struggled all weekend, citing a general lack of grip from the rear tyre and ‘chatter’ from the front suspension. Having to start the race in P12, on the fourth row of the grid, the veteran Swiss will need to produce a strong performance to prevent his championship hopes from derailing.

Of course, with three wins out of three already to his name, nobody is going to rule out the chance of four in a row for Morbidelli. The Italian has once again been at the sharp end of the timesheets throughout all the track sessions – both in practice and qualifying. True, he has not topped the timesheets yet this weekend, but with a miniscule gap to his team-mate and a 26-lap race distance on Sunday, the Italian is still the bookies’ favourite.

Can anyone stop Franco Morbidelli? Yes.

Will they stop him?

Eddie Hocknull @EddieHocknull

A Spartan’s Struggle

It was the worst-kept secret in the MotoGP paddock last year: Triple premier class champion, Jorge Lorenzo, was leaving the all conquering Yamaha factory outfit for Ducati in 2017. Signed to deliver the red bike’s first World Championship since Casey Stoner exactly a decade ago.

It has not gone as planned. Lorenzo’s results from the three opening fly-away races read thus:

Qatar: P11 (Started P12), 5 points

Argentina: DNF (Started P16)

USA: P9 (Started P6), 7 points

The warning signs had been evident for any rider joining Ducati: Just a few seasons after winning his title, Stoner became disillusioned with the team and defected to see out his racing days with Honda. Furthermore, since Stoner left in 2010, the Italian team have achieved victory in a grand total of two grands prix (Andreas Iannone and Dovizioso at Austria and Malaysia last season, respectively). Not even Valentino Rossi, with nine world titles to his name, could tame the Desmosedici-RR. The latter’s failure was perhaps Lorenzo’s real motivation for signing. Succeed where his arch rival could not.

Winter testing was a disaster for both team and rider. Although it is always difficult to judge the real performance of riders and teams, as we are not privy to details such as fuel loads and tyre choice, Lorenzo was constantly in the bottom half of the timesheets throughout most of the sessions. This was also because of Ducati discovering that they had lost some ground on their rivals now that the winglets had been banned. The lack of such aerodynamic aids has undoubtedly hurt the cornering performance of the Bologna-based outfit. With this in mind, the Spaniard was clearly always going to be struggling to adapt from the start.

However, in Ducati’s defence, their bike has always been much more physically demanding to ride than others. Therein lies the crux of all problems for the man known to his fans as ‘The Spartan’. Whilst the M1 has garnered the reputation of being arguably the most well balanced grand-prix bike to ever be built, the Ducati is the polar opposite. Designed around maximum straight line speed, the rider must be prepared to haul himself and the bike around every corner, combating the extreme levels of ‘chatter’ through the suspension, as the machine fights against every directional change. It takes an extraordinary rider to tame the beast. There is no place for finesse and smooth trajectories, which Lorenzo has built his career upon to date.

As a result, perhaps it should not have surprised us that the early stages of Lorenzo’s relationship with his new employers have been rocky. Both team and rider have had a stark reality check since joining forces. Ducati almost certainly won’t be able to win the championship this season, and Lorenzo has discovered how much he underestimated the challenge of riding the Ducati would be.

Poorer than expected results, and a completely disconsolate Lorenzo after Argentina, led certain media outlets into speculating how quickly he might part ways with his team. It was telling that it was Lorenzo who moved first to clarify his situation before last weekend’s American Grand Prix: “I don’t want to think about what has happened. In the team we are all optimistic. We’re working well together and this difficult moment will be over soon.”

Whilst ninth place will not bring home any accolades, it is proof that both the rider and team are improving. Lorenzo was understandably more buoyant speaking after the race. Additionally, there was more of a hint of the old bullish Jorge when on top form: “Today I was faster than ever on race pace. For sure we cannot be satisfied with our final position because our target is certainly much higher. We’re here to fight with Yamaha and Honda. But the positive is we’re much closer than before.”

Now that does not sound like a man who’s giving up just yet.

Eddie Hocknull @EddieHocknull

Mossey Doubles Up, Byrne Falls and Bradley Ray Shines

Race 1

Venue: Brands Hatch (Indy Circuit)

Weather: Dry, overcast.

Starting Grid: Pole – James Ellison, P2 – Luke Mossey, P3 – Leon Haslam

As the lights went out it was Leon Haslam (JG-Speedfit Kawasaki) who got the holeshot into Paddock Hill Bend off the line, but any hopes of an early lead were short lived by polesitter Ellison, who forced his way back on the final corner, and began to pull clear. With Ellison (McAms-Yamaha) clear early on, a chase group consisting of the JG duo of Mossey, Haslam and Tyco-BMW’s Christian Iddon formed to battle behind.

However, it wasn’t to be glory for the leader Ellison when, on Lap 13, he lost the front wheel on entry to the Druids hairpin and came to rest unceremoniously in the gravel trap. With the Cumbrian out of contention, it was Mossey who inherited the lead and did not surrender.

It was though a poor start to the race from 2016 champion, Shane Byrne. The BeWiser-Ducati ace dropped from his starting grid position of fourth on the opening lap, losing out to several places and had to fight his way through the mid-field. However, this only fuelled his fire as he carved his way back up into the top ten, and managing to close in on the race leaders in the latter stages.

Terrific scrap over second and third place ensued when Byrne closed up to Haslam and Iddon. The trio swapping track position countless times during the exchange. Eventually it was 2016 runner-up Haslam who emerged victorious of the three, with Iddon producing a brilliant rearguard effort to fend off the Ducati on the last lap for the final place on the podium.

Further down the field there were duels to be found across the track. One of the most entertaining of these was between Avil-TAG Yamaha’s Josh Brookes and Smith’s-Racing BMW’s Peter Hickman over ninth and tenth. With neither bike capable of keeping pace with the front group, the two competed in what can probably best be described as tag-team slipstreaming, as the pair towed each other away from the mid-field pack, before scrapping it out in the final laps.

But the race belonged to Luke Mossey who claimed his first ever BSB race win. The 24-year old rode superbly, always having the measure of his more illustrious team-mate, Haslam, and took full advantage of Ellison’s misfortune to give JG-Speedfit Kawasaki their third straight win of the season.

Race Results: 1 – Luke Mossey, 2 – Leon Haslam, 3 – Christian Iddon

Race 2

Weather: Dry, Overcast

Starting Grid: Pole – Ellison, P2 – Mossey, P3 – Haslam

There was drama even before the lights went out on the grid, as polesitter James Ellison suffered yet more misery. Visibly struggling on the warm up laps, he pulled into the pitlane and retired with what was reported to be a serious steering issue, thought to have stemmed from his crash in race one.

Tyco-BMW’s Christian Iddon continued his solid weekend, forcing his way past Haslam’s JG-Speedfit Kawasaki for P2. The former British Supermoto champion backed up his impressive displays at Donington Park, earlier in the month, with back-to-back podium finishes here at Brands Hatch. The feat made all the more remarkable when one considers that the BMW machine has struggled to match the competitiveness of the likes of Kawasaki and Ducati in recent seasons. A testament to the riding talent of the Stockport ace.

Shane Byrne, who had been struggling with a lack of traction on the BeWiser-Ducati in the first race, appeared to be having a much smoother ride second time out. Having made setup changes to compromise a little straight line speed for more corner stability, the 5 times British champion was finally able to compete at the front end of the field. Fighting Honda’s Jason O’Halloran for P4. However, disaster struck in the closing stages for the home favourite when, fighting for third with Haslam, he lost the front end at clearways, and finishing with a slide into the gravel trap.

Behind the leading pack. TAG-Avil Yamaha’s Josh Brookes fought his way through the field and, following the carnage up the road, was rewarded with a fourth place finish. The Australian was pushed to the limit again to secure his finishing position, finishing ahead of Honda’s Jason O’Halloran by just 0.1 seconds.

Perhaps the most spectacular ride was from Bradley Ray. He made two passes from a long way back at Graham Hill Bend, showing his class in his first year in the Superbike class. The crowd were rooting for him too. He really is a star of tomorrow!

As with the opening race, it was JG-Speedfit Kawasaki’s Luke Mossey who claimed the top step of the podium. Back-to-back wins for the popular Cambridge man. Any doubts from spectators that he could hold race winning pace were obliterated.

Race Result: 1) Luke Mossey, 2) Christian Iddon, 3) Leon Haslam

We would also like to thank Gareth Davies of Full Factory Media and Photography for providing us with some stunning images yet again. You can contact Gareth here, regarding special prints, copies and all other things photography related.

Eddie Hocknull @EddieHocknull

Two-In-A-Row for Mir as Battle Raged in Moto3

After the rain of Saturday’s Qualifying, the riders were greeted with cool but dry conditions for Sunday’s race at the Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit in northwest Argentina.

Everyone all made good clean starts as the lights went out. Britain’s John McPhee (Starting from pole position) initially lost the lead on the run down to turn one, but regained it quickly after profiting from a more than generous slipstream pulling him down the back straight into turn five. The lead would be disputed continuously throughout the race, as no rider has sufficient power to ever fully pull clear. With such small machines, and only around 40bhp, slipstreaming is a crucial element of racing in the ‘cadet class’. When a group of riders finally pulled away at the front, it numbered eleven competitors.

The race-craft that was required and indeed displayed by these young riders was of the highest quality. Particularly for none more so than Qatar winner, Joan Mir. The Spaniard had looked competitive during Friday practice, but was amongst the riders caught out by the weather in Qualifying. As such, he had to fight his way through the field, having started from P16.

He rode through the field and avoided the chaos which unfolded behind him as Niccolo Antonelli and Romano Fenati came to blows on the second lap. The former being forced to retire, and the latter earning an investigation from the stewards. There was also misfortune elsewhere as with just 10 laps to go, the hometown hero – Gabriel Rodrigo crashed out at turn five. Lorenzo Baldassarri and Fabio Di Giannantonio followed suit the very next lap.

The racing was intense all throughout the field, as every position was fiercely contested. With the championship containing a staggering 31 riders, there is desperation everywhere from these youngsters (most of them between 16-19 years old) to be noticed and sought after by teams in Moto2. Riders who are only just starting their grand-prix careers – such as Kaito Toba and Tony Arbolino – were challenging and beating more seasoned competitors such as Niccolo Bulega, Jakub Kornfeil and Jules Danilo.

And it is not just the boys taking the spotlight. 20-year old Maria Herrera fought her way up through the pack on her AGR-Team KTM machine to fifteenth place, and a coveted championship point. It has not been an easy road for the girl from Toledo, Spain. But having signed for a new team during the off-season now seems to be beginning to flourish in the Grand-Prix paddock.

But it was fellow compatriot, Mir, who eventually claimed the spoils. Back-to-back victories and a maximum complement of 50 points from the two opening rounds puts him in early command of the championship. McPhee once again had to settle for the second step on the podium, again still defying much of the pre-weekend expectation. Jorge Martin, on the Del Conca Gresini Racing machine, the front runners more than honest. His podium finish a just reward for his efforts.

Race Results – Top 10: (1) Joan Mir, (2) John McPhee, (3), Jorge Martin, (4) Phillip Oettl, (5) Andrea Migno, (6) Livio Loi, (7) Romano Fenati, (8), Tatsuki Suzuki, (9) Juanfran Guevara, (10), Kaito Toba

Eddie Hocknull @EddieHocknull

Mir Heads the Pack as Moto3 Hits Argentina

All eyes are on Leopard Racing’s Joan Mir, as the Moto3 World Championship heads to Argentina, following his victory last time out at in Qatar.

The Mallorcan rider arrives at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit this weekend leading the championship, and knows he is now the marked man of the field. This round should suit both the bike and his riding style, as the layout of the track encourages the last of the late breakers and rewards bikes with top straight line speed. Mir has only competed once before at the Argentinian venue, securing fifth position during last year’s race. Following his success from the opening round, he can be expected to feature in the fight for top honours on Sunday.

Behind him, British Talent Team’s John McPhee will be determined to go one better than his second place finish, a fortnight ago. Nobody then was expecting great things from the new team, even those who had helped bankroll the outfit were talking about success only coming later in the season. That has now all changed, and the 22-year old will now have to deal with the expectation of consistently challenging for victory. The young Scot is undoubtedly a serious talent in the making and, with such a competitive machine underneath him, has the tools to take the fight to the front on a regular basis.

However, dare to write off the rest of the Moto3 field at your peril. The more experienced Moto3 contenders such as Enea Bastianini (Estrella-Galicia Honda), Nicolo Bulega (TeamSky-VR46 KTM) and Romano Fenati (Marinelli-Honda) will all be gunning to reclaim the top step of the podium what all three believe is rightfully theirs. The latter of these will be most desperate to return to winning ways, having not claimed the chequered flag since last season’s Grand Prix of America. With ‘race rustiness’ of the first race of the season now behind them, expect this Roman triumvirate to put on a strong showing this weekend.

Finally, we must not forget Gabriel Rodrigo who is the sole Argentinian to line up on the grid – provided he is passed fit to race. The 20-year old broke his collarbone during FP1 a fortnight ago at the Losail International circuit. It has been a difficult introduction to the ‘cadet class’ for Rodrigo, having only been able to amass a lowly 31 points from last season’s championship. Still, there’s nothing like a race in front of a home crowd to inspire one onto greater things.

The Moto3 Grand-Prix of Argentina is on Sunday 9th April, 1300 local time (1700 UK time)

Eddie Hocknull @EddieHocknull

Davies Leaves It Late to Take Pole

Superpole 1

Having failed to make it through automatically to the Superpole 2, both Red-Bull Honda’s of Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl put on a commanding display in the opening session. The former MotoGP riders were imperious, with the next best contender (BMW’s Markus Reiterberger) over half a second slower.

It has been a difficult week so far for the Grillini-Racing Team, who have had to endure a very uncompetitive meeting so far, as both Ondrej Jezek and Ayrton Badovini could not qualify beyond the last two spots on the grid, more than two seconds off the pace of the Hondas.

Superpole 2

There was drama almost as soon as the second qualifying session began as Pata-Yamaha’s Alex Lowes ran off the circuit on entry to the final corner. The 2016 Suzuka 8-hours winner was left unable to set a time, and will have to start from P12 on the fourth row for Race 1. The off-track excursions continued throughout the session – most notably was Stefan Bradl who’s Honda machine caught fire at the end of his first run, and had to be content with P11.

With Lowes out of contention, the battle for pole position was left exclusively between the works Kawasaki and Ducati outfits. Reigning champion Jonathan Rea set the early pace, and looked his usual metronomic self throughout the session. However, a stunning effort from Aruba.It-Ducati’s Chaz Davies in the dying moments, was enough to steal the top spot with a time of 1’49.319, pipping the Kawasaki man by 0.043 seconds. Tom Sykes (KRT) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it-Ducati) completed the top four.

Davies was quick to play down his chances for Race One, saying “The bike still isn’t quite there” having lost an entire practice session yesterday due to a technical fault.

Front Three Rows:

Pole: Davies (AI-Ducati) P2: Rea (KRT) P3: Sykes (KRT)

P4: Melandri (AI-Ducati) P5: Forres (BARNI-Ducati) P6: Torres (BMW)

P7: Van-der-Mark (Yamaha) P8: Mercado (IODA-Aprilia) P9: Laverty (Milwaukee-Aprilia)

Eddie Hocknull @EddieHocknull

Five-in-a-Row for Jonathan Rea

Venue: Motorland-Aragon, Spain

Weather: Dry, Sunny, Windy.

Front-Row: Pole – Chaz Davies (Aruba.it-Ducati), P2 – Jonathan Rea (KRT), P3 – Tom Sykes (KRT)

All riders got away well off the line, but it was Jonathan Rea (KRT), forcing his way past Chaz Davies (Aruba.it-Ducati). The two began to pull away from the chasing pack, and engage in a ferocious race-long duel for top honours – tussling back and forth, swapping places at the front almost as regularly as the lap counter kept ticking down. However, April fools day had the cruellest of stings, as on the the penultimate lap, Davies was launched off his bike in a vicious highside at the final corner. Everyone was relieved to see him pick himself off the deck, as he had been trapped under the Ducati as the bike slid across the run-off area.

With Davies down, the battle for second was led by his teammate, Marco Melandri. Such is the difference in performance between the factory works outfits and the privateers, the battle for the remainder of the podium was between Marco Melandri (Aruba.it-Ducati) and Tom Sykes (KRT). The duo spent the first half of the race in a similar manner to their team-mates, before the Italian was finally able to open up a significant gap and hold it.

Pata-Yamaha’s Alex Lowes produced a solid recovery ride, having had to start in P12 following an engine failure during the morning’s Qualifying session. The 2016 Suzuka 8-hours winner carved his way through the field up to fifth place, taking considerable satisfaction from mugging his team-mate, Michael Van der Mark, in the closing laps.

Further down the field, the Red-Bull Honda duo of Stefan Bradl and Nicky Hayden confirmed the improvements made to the bike, by both finishing inside the top ten. They finished just behind The Milwaukee-Aprilia machine of Eugene Laverty in P8.

There were a number of fallers who failed to see the chequered flag. Aside from Davies, the most disappointed of these will be Xavi Forres. The Spaniard, had been having such a good weekend so far on the privateer BARNI-Ducati, but crashed on the sixth lap of the race, having been in fifth position at the time and bearing down on KRT’s Tom Sykes. Although he remounted, he spent the remainder of the race circulating at the back until his bike caught fire on the final lap. The others to tumble were GoEleven-Kawasaki’s Roman Ramos (Lap 4) and Ayrton Badovini (Grillini-Kawasaki) on the opening lap.

The result means that Jonathan Rea continues his astonishing form going, having taken victory in all five of the season’s races so far, and claimed 125 points. With team-mate Tom Sykes in second place but 47 points adrift, it is now hard to look beyond Rea for the Championship.

Race Result:

1: Jonathan Rea (KRT) 33’24.302 2: Marco Melandri (Aruba.it-Ducati) 3: Tom Sykes (KRT)

Eddie Hocknull @EddieHocknull