2019 Catalan GP (MotoGP) – Preview

What a race at Mugello! It was the race of the year so far, and it delivered a well-deserved first time Grand Prix winner in Italian Danilo Petrucci in front of his home crowd on the Ducati in a nailbiter ahead of Marc Márquez, who extended his championship lead ahead of Petrucci’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso, and Álex Rins, with the Top Four covered by just 0.535 seconds!

However, the MotoGP grid heads to Spain, and to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for Round Seven of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship, the 2019 Catalan Grand Prix as Grand Prix motorcycle racing celebrates its 70th birthday!

Márquez (115 points) leads the championship by 12 points for the Repsol Honda Team, ahead of Dovizioso (103 points) for Mission Winnow Ducati.

Márquez set up his weekend at Mugello very well by taking an amazing pole position, the 56th of his premier class career, moving ahead of Valentino Rossi into outright-second on the list of most pole positions in the premier class, and is now just two behind Mick Doohan’s record of 58 premier class pole positions.

However, it wasn’t an easy weekend for Dovizioso, only qualifying ninth after having to go through the first part of qualifying, but did extremely well to recover and finish third in the race, but has lost ground on Márquez, and you sense Dovizioso needs to win the Catalan Grand Prix to give himself a fighting chance in the 2019 championship battle.

Rins (88 points) is third in the world championship for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR after coming back from 13th on the grid to finish a close fourth. Unless there is a problem with the actual Suzuki bike itself over one lap that doesn’t exist over long race runs, which is plausible given Rins has consistently not qualified well in 2019 so far, Rins has got to qualify way better than he has if he is going to challenge consistently for race wins.

Petrucci (82 points) moves up into fourth in the championship after claiming his first MotoGP race victory at Mugello in Italy, and while I don’t think he is a serious championship contender, he will need to help his teammate Dovizioso steal points off Márquez consistently to give Dovizioso a great chance of winning his first premier class world championship.

Valentino Rossi (72 points) drops to fifth in the standings for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP after having an absolute shocker at Mugello, qualifying in 18th (his equal-worst qualifying performance) after failing to get to the finish line in time to start one more flying lap, and then was unusually lacklustre in the race, crashing out of the Italian Grand Prix on Lap Eight, and it wasn’t because of a lack of performance from the bike, but in my opinion because of a lack of performance from the great man himself, almost a sign that his time in MotoGP, at least as a competitve force, may well be coming to an end, sadly!

Behind the Top Five in the world championship, Jack Miller (42 points) is sixth for Alma Pramac Racing after performing well at Mugello before crashing out on Lap 16, and is level on points with Cal Crutchlow (42 points) for LCR Honda, but ahead of Crutchlow due better race results, with Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales (40 points) struggling in eighth in the standings after finishing sixth in Italy, while Crutchlow’s teammate Takaaki Nakagami (40 points), and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Pol Espargaró (38 points) complete the Top 10 in the standings after strong performances at the Italian Grand Prix.

However, the struggles for Jorge Lorenzo (19 points) at Repsol Honda Team are continuing after another race finish outside of the Top 10, and down in 14th in the championship, and you feel like there is no way out of this shocking form slump, and drastic changes are required from him to return to the form we know he can produce!

So, who is going to win the Catalan Grand Prix?

With five Top Two finishes from six races, Marc Márquez is the obvious choice to win at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but who finishes behind him gets a bit more complicated with the varying strengths of the bikes, and varying form of the riders, but I think Andrea Dovizioso, who has finished inside the Top Four in all six races in 2019, is the safest choice to finish second, while I think Álex Rins will finish third if he can qualify well, just ahead of Jack Miller.