**Tenth year of MotoGP at Catalunya **
The Catalunya circuit has hosted a Grand Prix event in each of the previous nine years since the introduction of the four-stroke MotoGP formula in 2002. Below is a reminder of the highlights of the previous nine MotoGP races held at the Montmeló track:
2002 – Valentino Rossi won the first race of the four-stroke MotoGP era at the Catalunya circuit by just 0.88 seconds from his factory Honda team-mate Tohru Ukawa. The home crowd had something to cheer with Carlos Checa battling for the lead before eventually finishing third on his factory Yamaha, with his team-mate Max Biaggi finishing fourth after giving the Yamaha M1 its first ever pole position.
2003 – An historic win for Loris Capirossi, giving Ducati their first ever victory in the premier-class of Grand Prix racing and the first in any class since Mike Hailwood won the 125cc race at the Ulster GP of 1959. Capirossi was followed home by Championship rivals Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau, both riding Honda machinery.
**2004 **– Local hero Sete Gibernau qualified on pole but in the race he finished a close second to Valentino Rossi who gave Yamaha their first premier-class victory at the Catalunya circuit since Luca Cadalora in 1994. Marco Melandri’s third place finish riding a Yamaha was his first ever podium in the top class.
**2005 **– Very much a repeat of the previous year with Sete Gibernau qualifying on pole but losing out in the race by a small margin to Valentino Rossi. As in 2004, Marco Melandri was third, but this time riding a Honda as Gibernau’s team-mate.
2006 – The first attempt at running the race ended with a multi-rider crash at the first corner which eliminated Ducati team-mates Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau together with Marco Melandri. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) won the re-started race by five seconds over Nicky Hayden with Kenny Roberts third on the KR211V. This has been the only occasion during the MotoGP era when there has been no Spanish representative on the podium at the Catalan Grand Prix.
2007 – Casey Stoner (Ducati) won after a tremendous battle with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). Dani Pedrosa (Honda) came home third just 0.39 seconds behind the winner. Following Pedrosa was John Hopkins (Suzuki) and Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki) so that the first five riders home were riding motorcycles from five different manufacturers, the first time this had occurred in the premier-class since the Swedish GP in 1972 at Anderstorp.
2008 – Dani Pedrosa (Honda) got one of his great starts from second place on the grid to lead at the end of the first lap and then cruised to a comfortable win, to become the first Spanish rider to win in the premier-class at the Catalunya circuit during the four-stroke MotoGP era. Valentino Rossi fought through the field from ninth on the grid to finish second in front of championship challenger Casey Stoner, who had given Ducati their first pole at the Catalan GP.
2009 – Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) won the race from team-mate Jorge Lorenzo after one of the best ever final laps which ended with Rossi making a memorable pass at the last corner. Casey Stoner finished third, showing signs of the illness that was to have a major effect on his season. Following this race there was the unique situation of three riders (Rossi, Lorenzo and Stoner) tied on equal points (106) for the lead in the world championship standings.
2010 – Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) qualified on pole and took the race win having led across the line on 24 of the 25 laps, only briefly losing the lead to Andrea Dovizioso early in the race. Dovizioso maintained the pressure on Lorenzo until he crashed on the fifteenth lap. Second fastest qualifier Dani Pedrosa made his usual lightning start only to run off the track at the first corner and drop down to eleventh and then fight his way through to inherit second place when Dovizioso crashed.
Honda and Yamaha battle it out in MotoGP
The battle between the two big Japanese manufacturers Honda and Yamaha continues in MotoGP and following Casey Stoner’s win in France, Honda now have just one less victory in the MotoGP era than Yamaha:
Marc Marquez becomes youngest winner of an intermediate-class Grand Prix
Marc Marquez’s win in the Moto2 race at Le Mans made him the youngest ever winner of an intermediate-class Grand Prix race, taking the record from fellow Spanish rider Dani Pedrosa.
Maverick Viñales becomes youngest Spanish rider to win a Grand Prix
At the French Grand Prix, Maverick Viñales took his first ever Grand Prix victory to become the third youngest rider of all-time to stand on the top step of a Grand Prix podium, and the youngest Spanish rider to do so. This victory for Viñales came in just his fourth Grand Prix start, the least number of starts to their first win of the youngest ten riders to win a Grand Prix, as shown below.
Only a handful of riders have won a 125cc GP race having made just four or less GP starts, and many of these were in the early days of Grand Prix racing as shown in the list below. The last rider to win in the 125cc class having started in less than four GP races was Noboru Ueda, who won in Japan in 1991 when making his Grand Prix debut.
Spain close in on Great Britain
With the two Spanish wins at Le Mans, Spain as a nation now have a total of 383 Grand Prix victories across all solo classes, which is just two less victories than Great Britain who are placed second behind Italy in the following table of GP wins by nation. Great Britain were the dominant nation in the first thirty years of the motorcycling world championship, however since 1980 Britain have scored just eight GP wins across the solo classes, during which time Spain have accumulated 303 GP wins.
Grand Prix Racing Numbers **
**54 years – On race day in Catalunya it will be exactly 54 years ago that Carlo Ubbiali finished second in the 1957 125cc TT race which was the last in a record sequence of 14 podium finishes. By finishing in the top three in Catalunya Nico Terol would equal this record.
36 years - On the day of qualifying in France, it will be exactly 36 years ago, at the 1975 Isle of Man TT, that Mick Grant gave Kawasaki their second and last Grand Prix victory in the 500cc class.
25 – Casey Stoner’s victory at the French Grand Prix was the 25th premier-class win of his career – the same number of premier-class wins as Kevin Schwantz who won the 500cc world title in 1993 riding a Suzuki. Only five riders have a greater number of premier-class wins (Rossi, Agostini, Doohan, Hailwood and Lawson).
24 - In addition to Jorge Lorenzo’s great winning record since the start of last year, he has also shown great consistency and has finished in the top four at the last 24 races, a sequence that started at the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2009. Since the world championship series started in 1949, only Valentino Rossi has had a longer sequence of top four finishes in the premier-class with 28 successive top three finishes.
20 - This will be the 20th successive year that the Circuit de Catalunya has been used since it was first included in the Road-racing Grand Prix World Championships in 1992. Only three current venues have a longer ongoing sequence of hosting Grand Prix events: Jerez, Mugello and Assen.
9 – Valentino Rossi is the most successful rider at the Catalunya circuit with nine victories (1 x 125cc, 2 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 5 x MotoGP).
5 -There have been five premier-class victories by Spanish riders at the Catalunya circuit; Alex Criville in 1995 & 1999, Carlos Checa in 1996, Dani Pedrosa in 2008 and Jorge Lorenzo last year.
5 – Yamaha have been the most successful manufacturer at the Catalunya circuit during the four-stroke MotoGP era with five victories. Honda and Ducati have each won twice in the MotoGP class at the Catalan Grand Prix.
4 – At the French GP, Stefan Bradl became the first rider to take four successive pole positions in the intermediate- class of Grand Prix racing since Jorge Lorenzo in 2006. If he qualifies on pole in Catalunya he will be the first rider to have five successive poles in the intermediate-class since Toni Elias in 2003.
3 – At the French Grand Prix, Valentino Rossi finished on the podium for the first time riding a Ducati, adding to previous MotoGP podium appearances on Honda and Yamaha. Only two other riders have had podium finishes on four-stroke MotoGP machines from three different manufacturers: Marco Melandri (Yamaha, Honda & Kawasaki) and Alex Barros (Honda, Yamaha & Ducati)
2 – At the Le Mans race, Honda riders took the top two places in the MotoGP race for the first time in the 800cc era. The last time that Honda riders took a one-two finish in MotoGP was at the USA GP in 2006 at Laguna Seca (Hayden & Pedrosa).
0.39 seconds - The MotoGP race at the Catalan GP in 2007 is the closest podium finish since the introduction of the 800cc capacity limit with just 0.39 seconds covering the first three riders across the line (Stoner, Rossi and Pedrosa).