Italian Valentino Rossi won the Grand Prix of Catalunya on Sunday after a thrilling duel with Spaniard Marc Marquez that ended with a handshake between MotoGP’s bitter rivals.
Rossi’s Yamaha team mate and reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo lost the overall lead to Honda’s Marquez after being knocked off his bike by Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, the man he will replace next year, on lap 17 at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
“It’s a great victory, one of the best of my career,” declared 37-year-old Rossi, who started fifth and fell to seventh before fighting back to take the lead on lap seven.
It was his second victory of the season, 88th in MotoGP and 114th of his grand prix career.
Marquez, who traded the lead with Rossi over the closing laps before the Italian made his move stick with two to go, has 125 points to Lorenzo’s 115 and Rossi’s 103 after seven rounds.
“I was struggling a lot with the front (tyre),” said Marquez, who ended last season as Rossi’s arch-enemy after the pair clashed on track and the Italian accused him of helping compatriot Lorenzo win the title to keep it in Spanish hands.
“I had a few moments, in the end I was on the limit. I tried but when I saw also Lorenzo out the mentality changed a little bit.
“The important thing is that we had a great battle with Valentino and I think the people enjoyed it,” added the smiling Spaniard, whose handshake with Rossi in the finish area ended months of glacial relations.
The Lorenzo incident drew a furious response from Yamaha team boss Lin Jarvis, who slammed Iannone for dangerous riding on a weekend overshadowed by the death on Friday of Spanish Moto2 rider Luis Salom.
“I am appalled by Iannone’s move,” he said, calling for the Italian to be penalised after both riders ended up in the gravel.
“He hasn’t learned his lesson from what he did earlier this season where he took out his own team mate. This do-or-die suicide move on Lorenzo is impossible … it’s not acceptable to do this sort of thing,” added Jarvis.
Lorenzo was the early leader on a scorching afternoon but was fighting to defend fifth place when the collision happened.
Rossi, Marquez and third placed Spaniard Dani Pedrosa dedicated their races to Salom and wore T-shirts on the podium declaring ‘Always in our hearts”. No champagne was sprayed.