Valentino Rossi, foto kredit: Monster Energy CZ
Valentino Rossi, foto kredit: Monster Energy CZRig, foto kredit: Monster Energy CZRig, foto kredit: Monster Energy CZMaverick Viñales, foto kredit: Monster Energy CZCal Crutchlow, foto kredit: Monster Energy CZ

"I love Catalunya!" A jak mají rádi okruh Moto GP ostatní jezdci?

14.06.2019 00:00

Ready to carve-up Catalunya Monster Energy MotoGP! What the riders think…

Just over fifty years ago a Catalan called Salvador Cañellas blasted around the perilous tree-lined circuit in Barcelona’s Montjuic Park on his 125cc Bultaco. It took him 55 minutes and at an average speed of 69mph on the scenic street course to become Spain’s first ever Grand Prix winner.

Skip forward from 1968 to 2019 and the 28th edition of the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya at the ‘Montjuic replacement’ track constructed in 1991: the landscape is now distinctly ‘red and yellow’. Race goers will have to scan back to 2008 to find a year when Spain has not toasted a world champion in at least one of the MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 categories.

The Iberians have not only conquered the results sheets and accumulated vast numbers; they have also formed a strong core of the sport. Since the start of the decade MotoGP has visited Aragon, Catalunya, Jerez and Valencia: four dates of the now-nineteen round championship have drawn tens of thousands of bike-mad public to vastly different venues and surroundings. Catalunya itself was the second-best attended event on the slate from 2018 with over 100,000 people finding space in the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya banks and ‘tribunes’ and in typically glorious June sunshine.

The layout itself is a popular one. The 1 km main straight leads into an awe-inspiring technical section where riders are slipping and sliding to reduce their speed from 350kmph and feed into the sweeping, snaking loop through Turns 1, 2, 3. “It is always good action because of the braking zone into the first chicane when you are doing 350k an hour a lot of the time,” smiles LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow. “The corners are a bit faster and a bit longer than, say, Mugello.

The rest of the lap is a mix of curves and cambers, a short back straight into prime overtaking spot and that famous double right-handed dive back to the finish line that provided one of the most memorable MotoGP climaxes in the 2009 duel between Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.

Catalunya will be a home Grand Prix for at least three of the riders in the sizeable Monster Energy quota of the premier class. “I will push at my best and try to be at my very best every single lap of the weekend,” stresses Monster Energy Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales; who heralds from the costal town of Roses just 135km away. “It is a home track that I really like. All my fans, all my friends will be there so I will push and give all I can.

For countryman Alex Rins the same enthusiasm to excel in front of appreciative home support holds fast. The 23 year old had his maiden taste of MotoGP success earlier in the year in Texas and will be vying to deliver Suzuki’s first win at Catalunya since 2000 and their first podium appearance also. “For sure we will start at 100%, and full of power because last time out in Mugello we did a really good job. Let's see what happens.

Teammate Joan Mir is one of the ‘rookies’ to sample the tarmac for the first time on a MotoGP machine. Like Pramac Ducati’s Pecco Bagnaia, the Majorcan has a particular feel for Catalunya. Bagnaia himself is curious to feel the full speed of the Desmosedici. “I really like Barcelona and I first rode there in 2011 so I know it well,” says the Italian. “We will have to see what it is like with the MotoGP bike: for sure it is different! Ducati won the race there last year so that it is positive and we can also look to have a good weekend.”

The crowds and relaxed party vibe that tends to float over the small hill from Barcelona makes the Catalan Grand Prix a memorable date on the calendar. “It is always a good event to go, especially when Monster are the title sponsor of the Grand Prix!” says Crutchlow, who will be one of many athletes to visit the busy ‘rig riots’ in the Monster Energy compound on Friday and Saturday afternoons to meet fans, pose for photos and to sign gear.

One racer many will be keen to see is Valentino. He might not wear the Rojigualda flag or the Catalan Senyera but there is little doubting the Monster Energy Yamaha rider’s immense popularity especially as he’s won seven times at the track, the last in 2016.

I love Catalunya!” he says. “At this time of the season we find a few of the tracks I prefer.

What have to remain concentrated and try not to make a mistake during practice; a lot of times we try different things because we are the factory team and I want to try to improve the bike,” the veteran added on the recent troubles that blighted his home Grand Prix at Mugello two weeks ago. “We stay more focussed and try the maximum.

There are some that question whether Rossi can still chase the waved chequered flag. Catalunya could be the chance to silence the doubters. “The Grand Prix in Austin was maybe one or two months ago and I was very close to the win,” he reasoned. “I was very happy. For sure we should not give up, try the maximum and remain concentrated: make the maximum like this. Am I worried that I won’t win again? ‘No’ is the answer: ‘no worries’!

MotoGP first visited the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in 1992 and since 2002 Spain have celebrated a Grand Prix winner every year at ‘Montmelo’. Will that run continue this weekend?


Datum:14.06.2019 00:00
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"I love Catalunya!" A jak mají rádi okruh Moto GP ostatní jezdci?

Ready to carve-up Catalunya Monster Energy MotoGP! What the riders think…

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