Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi fought back from a poor start that left him running as low as seventh to win Sunday’s Catalan Grand Prix in Barcelona for Yamaha.
Rossi started fifth at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but slipped back after a poor getaway from the grid.
Pole-sitter Marc Marquez also failed to get a clean getaway, allowing Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo to assume the lead of the race in the early stages.
Lorenzo was unable to open up a gap to the chasing pack, while Rossi managed to fight his way back up to third in just three laps, leaving him to dice with Marquez for position.
After seeing off Marquez, Rossi then made light work of Lorenzo to take the lead of the race on lap seven. Marquez followed him through as Lorenzo struggled for pace, causing him to drop down the order.
As Rossi and Marquez battled at the front, Lorenzo’s race came to an early end after Ducati’s Andrea Iannone crashed into him when attempting an overtake. Lorenzo was furious with the Italian rider, but had to accept that his championship lead was lost.
Marquez tried to keep up with Rossi, but a mistake on the penultimate lap caused him to lose ground and ended his hopes of a home victory. Rossi was able to ease to the line, enjoying an advantage of 2.6 seconds at the checkered flag.
After the race, Rossi and Marquez put aside their long-running rivalry to shake hands in parc ferme before donning t-shirts paying tribute to Moto2 rider Luis Salom, who died in practice on Friday. Rossi also dedicated his victory to Salom.
Dani Pedrosa followed Honda teammate Marquez home in third place, while Maverick Vinales finished fourth for Suzuki. Pol Espargaro ended the race fifth for Tech3 ahead of LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow and the sole factory Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso in sixth and seventh respectively.
Alvaro Bautista finished eighth ahead of Danilo Petrucci and Hector Barbera, the latter unable to maintain his good qualifying result as he fell from P4 on the grid to P10 at the flag.
The next MotoGP race takes place in Assen on June 25.