The hoards of yellow-decked fans and spectators at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli needed some distraction from the fact that home hero Valentino Rossi was labouring in the bottom half of the top ten and it came in the form of a dramatic late spill from Ducati mounted Jorge Lorenzo.
Round thirteen of nineteen in MotoGP didn't go to plan for the Spaniard – winner of his first grand prix on the blood red motorcycle at Mugello earlier this summer and usurped in his bid for a double on Italian tarmac due to a breakaway by teammate Andrea Dovizioso – after his slip while battling with Marc Marquez for second place. It was not pretty viewing either for Rossi, whose bike-related issue reflected the clunky unreliable aspect of the iconic DeLorean on his special ‘Back to the Future’ helmet paintjob rather than the amazing full-speed time machine of the feature films. “The big problem is that at the moment we don't understand why,” he mused. “We must be able to understand what happens to our bike in situations like this. I hope we can fix it very quickly, because I want to go back to doing good races.”
While Lorenzo was relatively sanguine about his full-on attempt to capture a fifth podium of 2018, LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow – who had been running comfortably in fourth place – was only too glad for the promotion to third place and to walk the box again and for the first time since his victory in Argentina.
“I didn't get to race my home Grand Prix two weeks ago so this is the next best thing: I’m glad I was able to reward the LCR Castrol Honda team because they have worked hard for me all year,” he said in reference to the disappointment of the British GP cancellation due to rain and the local spotlight on his crew at their home fixture. “Even if we have had a bad race we haven’t given up and our speed is good. I capitalised on Jorge’s mistake but I would have been happy with fourth anyway. I rode a good race. I thought it would be a big battle today and seven guys going for the podium at least but it strung out immediately and I was able to capitalise.”
Crutchlow is sixth in the championship but is enjoying one of his more consistent seasons in the premier class thanks to HRC’s more potent RCV machine. “With the Honda we have a stronger bike than last year,” he says. “We are faster at every racetrack and we can be top five-six each weekend. We’re more competitive.”
Also hitting the heights of competitiveness under the Rimini sunshine was SKY Racing Team VR46’s Pecco Bagnaia who romped home in Moto2 three seconds ahead of main title opponent Miguel Oliveira. It was the young Italian’s sixth shot of glory in just his second Moto2 campaign and strengthened his case for the championship with six rounds remaining. His joy and celebrations in front of an appreciative public was offset by the disappointment and empathy for VR46 Academy-mate Marco Bezzecchi whose last lap crash in Moto3 not only cost him a chance of the chequered flag but also saw the lead in the Moto3 standings slide to rival Jorge Martin.
The next chapter of MotoGP comes in two weeks at the sweeping Motorland circuit in Aragon, Spain.