An amazing head-to-head battle between Yamaha teammates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo saw the Italian take his 99th Grand Prix victory by a 0.095s margin at Barcelona.
In front of nearly 90,000 fans the reigning World Champion battled with the young pretender to his crown throughout the 25-lap MotoGP race, securing the win on the last corner.
Despite some slight cloud cover close to the Mediterranean coast, air temperatures of 40°C meant that it was a draining experience for the premier class riders. Rossi and Lorenzo threw everything into their duel, with ‘The Doctor’ executing a superb move right at the death to take maximum points.
Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) was on the podium again, to maintain his World Championship challenge, with the result leaving Rossi, Lorenzo and the Australian all tied on 106 points at the head of the standings – the Italian on top as the possessor of the most recent victory.
Stoner was absolutely exhausted after the race having worked extremely hard to fend off a strong challenge from Andrea Dovizioso. The Repsol Honda rider produced another consistent display to finish in fourth place for the third round in succession, having started in fourth on the grid -this time missing the podium by 0.052s.
Meanwhile, an excellent battle between Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) for fifth place eventually saw an Italian emerge in front of a Spaniard again, Capirossi crossing the line just over two seconds ahead.
With two-way fights for positions going on throughout the order, Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) used all his experience to overcome Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) for seventh.
New MotoGP arrival Gabor Talmacsi finished his very first premier class race, whilst Scot Racing teammate Yuki Takahashi crashed out on the first lap. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Toni Elías meanwhile was also unable to finish as his miserable home record continued.
Mapfre Aspar’s Álvaro Bautista extended his lead at the top of the 250cc standings to 12 points with a highly polished performance earlier in the afternoon, crossing the finish line seven seconds ahead of his nearest rival Hiroshi Aoyama.
The victory was made all the more sweet by the fact that World Champion Marco Simoncelli (Metis Gilera) retired with a mechanical problem after crashing on the second lap, meaning that the Italian -who clashed with Bautista in Mugello two weeks ago- dropped to fifth in the standings and now trails the Spaniard by 47 points after six races.
As Bautista took his second victory and fourth podium of the year, Barcelona resident Aoyama (Scot Racing Team) brought his Honda home in second place at his ‘second home race’, beating poleman Héctor Barberá (Pepe World Team) on the last lap – the Japanese rider fighting back after looking like he had technical issues in the middle of the race. Aoyama consolidated his second place in the championship with his third podium of the season.
Mattia Pasini (Team Toth Aprilia) dropped in the final laps when looking like he would be on the rostrum again, ultimately finishing in fourth, 3.5s behind Barberá.
Another fight between ‘best of enemies’ Thomas Luthi (Emmi – Caffe Latte) and Alex Debon (Aeropuerto-Castello-Blusens) saw the Swiss rider make a late mistake to hand fifth place to the Spaniard.
Andrea Iannone’s rollercoaster season continued on Sunday in Barcelona as he took a bizarre victory over Julián Simón in the 125cc contest.
The two riders did battle for top spot throughout the race only for Simón to celebrate prematurely as he crossed the line in first place with one lap to go, allowing Ongetta Team I.S.P.A. man Iannone to fly past and take his third win of the year – following three difficult races for the Italian in recent weeks.
Behind second placed finisher Nico Terol (Jack & Jones Team), Simón eventually reached the finishing line neck and neck with his Bancaja Aspar team-mate Sergio Gadea – the pair being recorded as having finished with the same time and a photo finish giving Gadea third spot to complete Simón’s heartbreak.
Great performances from youngsters Marc Márquez (Red Bull KTM) and Jonas Folger (Ongetta Team I.S.P.A.) saw them also fighting for the podium, ultimately finishing fifth and sixth respectively – both within fractions of a second of reaching the rostrum.
With Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing) coming home in seventh place, Simón’s only consolation is that he takes over the championship lead from colleague Bradley Smith (also Bancaja Aspar) who was eighth.
The next round of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship is the Alice Dutch TT at Assen on 25th-27th June.