Rossi back on top in Assen

The hero of the Dutch TT this year is a very hard one to judge, with Valentino Rossi winning his first race in two and a half years and Jorge Lorenzo securing a 5th place despite breaking his collarbone in free practice just 48 hours before.

After a good start from the second row, Rossi found himself 3rd before passing Marquez. Just a couple of laps later, he passed Pedrosa to hit the front in a moment that the Rossi faithful have been dreaming of for the past 2 years. With the Hondas tripping over themselves, Rossi could extend a 2 second lead, giving him his 80th Premier Class victory.

Lorenzo qualified in 12th due to his free practice time, but showed no signs of injury as he climbed to 5th by lap 3. He then overtook the Pole man Cal Crutchlow before slowing with 10 laps to go, allowing the Brit to go through, and seeing Lorenzo drop to a lonely 5th place.

Crutchlow, after being held up by the injured Lorenzo, grabbed a podium after passing the tiring Pedrosa with 5 laps to go. Having been the first Brit to get a Pole position in over a decade, Crutchlow had a poor start, seeing him drop to 5th place. After he passed Pedrosa, Crutchlow caught up Marc Marquez and pressured the Spaniard for 2nd. It could have been much worse for Crutchlow though, as Marquez appeared to miss a gear on the last lap, and the two almost collided, with Crutchlow almost being forced off the track.

Stefan Bradl came 6th with Bautista, Espargaro, Smith and Dovizioso rounding off the top 10. Crutchlow’s late surge saw him hold on to his 4th place in the Championship despite Rossi’s win. Pedrosa failed to capitalise on Lorenzo’s injury, only extending his lead over the World champion by 2 points.

In Moto2, Pol Espargaro edged out Scott Redding to win by a tenth of a second, whilst Luis Salom won in Moto3.

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Lorenzo eases to home victory

Jorge Lorenzo dominated his home Grand Prix in Catalunya, even beating Dani Pedrosa to the first corner. After qualifying 3rd, Lorenzo led from start to finish, with relatively little pressure put on him. Pedrosa though, was more worried by team mate Marc Marquez as the race went on, as the rookie looked to have the faster pace, cumulating in an attempted lunge down the inside of Pedrosa on the penultimate lap which almost saw Marquez lose control. Valentino Rossi rode a lonely race in 4th, after Cal Crutchlow, who was bidding for a 3rd successive podium, crashed on lap 6. Stefan Bradl finished 5th, with Bradley Smith pipping Andrea Dovizioso to 6th, his highest finish so far in his rookie season. Aleix Espargaro finished top CRT in a career best 8th, with Colin Edwards recording an impressive 9th. After crashing early on, Michele Pirro, standing in for Ben Spies, got back on to finish 10th.

Crutchlow was one of many riders not to finish, with no fewer than 8 riders failing to finish. Alvaro Bautista, who almost took out Rossi in his crash, and Michael Laverty crashed out early on, with Hector Barbera, Nicky Hayden, Andrea Iannone and Randy De Puniet also crashing, with Karel Abraham retiring.

Lorenzo’s win moves him just 7 points behind Pedrosa in the championship, with Crutchlow holding on to 4th place despite his crash.

Pol Espargaro won the Moto2 race, with championship leader Scott Redding finishing 4th, and Luis Salom won the Moto3 race.

Bautista the pantomime villian as Lorenzo storms Mugello

Alvaro Bautista will have to lie low whenever he returns to Italy, after knocking off Italian legend Valentino Rossi on just the 3rd corner of the race. Rossi, who qualified 7th, didn’t have the best of starts, leading to him being caught up in the thick of the action. Jorge Lorenzo led from the first corner, where he overtook Dani Pedrosa, who out-qualified him with a Pole-position lap record on the final lap of Q2. Lorenzo went of to gap the two Repsol Hondas to get a 5 second lead. Marc Marquez, who qualified 6th after crashing in every session apart from qualifying, fought his way up to 3rd behind his team mate. With about 10 laps to go, Pedrosa’s lap time fell, allowing Lorenzo to escape and holding up Marquez. Marquez passed Pedrosa with 5 laps to go through turn 5, however he crashed 2 laps later after the bike folded beneath him. This mistake allowed Brit Cal Crutchlow an unlikely podium, his 2nd consecutive rostrum. Crutchlow was having a lonely race, after passing his former team mate Dovizioso early on, and having a 4 second buffer both in front and behind him. But when Pedrosa started to have problems, Cal began hunting down the hondas, taking about half a second-a-lap out of the Repsols.

Further down, Stefan Bradl got his highest finish of the season in 4th, beating the highest placed Italian Andrea Dovizioso, who had started on the front row, and Nicky Hayden. Another Ducati, test rider Michele Pirro came 7th, with Aleix Espargaro taking up his usual place of top CRT in 8th.Bradley Smith finished off a painful weekend in 9th, while fellow Brit Michael Laverty finished 17th.

Lorenzo’s victory sees him overtake Marquez in the championship, now just 12 points behind Dani Pedrosa, Crutchlow’s 3rd sees him move closer to Marquez, just 6 points behind, whilst Dovi overtook Valentino Rossi in 5th place.

In Moto2, Brit Scott Redding took his Championship lead to 43 points with a comfortable second win in a row as he pushes for a MotoGP ride next year. Luis Salom won in the Moto3 race.

The three amigos (or not quite)

After a feud that cumulated in the king of Spain having to force a handshake between Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa in 2008, a new rivalry could have be born at Jerez this weekend. Rookie Marc Marquez will be on the end of Lorenzo’s wroth this time though, as he barged Lorenzo out in a Rossi/Gibernau-esque move around the final corner.

Marquez had shaken off an early challenge from Valentino Rossi to hunt down the leaders Lorenzo and Pedrosa. Pedrosa passed Lorenzo on lap 6 before stretching his lead to over 1 second within a couple of laps. Marquez caught Lorenzo but his inexperience showed, as several impatient lunges almost brought contact between the two riders. His pass was just as vigorous, as on the final lap Marquez barged past Lorenzo, ironically at Lorenzo Corner. Lorenzo refused to be drawn to comment on the pass post race, which left Marquez as the outright leader in the championship. Lorenzo’s 3rd place sees him drop to 3rd in the championship, being overtaken by race winner Dani Pedrosa.

Raceday continued from where qualifying left off, as 5 riders crashed between laps 3 and 4, Jonny Hernandez, Randy De Puniet, Andrea Iannone, Stefan Bradl and Lukas Pesek. Brit Cal Crutchlow finished 5th, 4 seconds behind Valentino Rossi, with Crutchlow’s team mate Bradley Smith finishing in 10th. Aleix Espargaro was once again top CRT, finishing an impressive 9th

In Moto2, Esteve Rabat won his first race, with British rider Scott Redding finishing second. The Moto3 race was red flagged after Alan Techer crashed, 15 full laps in. Maverick Vinales was awarded the win.

Starlet first over the stripe in American GP

Young prodigy Marc Marquez became the youngest ever winner of a Moto GP race in Texas at the tender age of just 20 years and 63 days old. Marquez, who became the youngest rider to qualify on pole during on Saturday, passed team-mate Dani Pedrosa on lap 13 at the inaugural race in Austin. World champion Jorge Lorenzo had a quiet race in third place from start to finish, with his Yamaha struggling to keep up with the Honda’s speed down the straights. Lorenzo’s lap times picked towards the end of the race to finish almost 2 seconds behind Dani Pedrosa, who fell away with 2 laps to go, citing “losing the strength in his left arm through the chicane section” for the 1.5 second gap from the race winner. As in Qatar, Britain’s Cal Crutchlow initially got stuck in 5th behind Stefan Bradl, before running off the track on lap 4. He lost little time though, rejoining the action having only dropped 1 place to Alvaro Bautista. Crutchlow passed Bautista through the chicanes on the next lap. The Monster Yamaha man then made up a 1.2 second gap to pass Stefan Bradl on lap 8, slipping through as the German ran slightly wide. Nine time world champion Valentino Rossi finished 6th with Aleix Espargaro again the leading CRT in 11th, ahead of 2 satellite bikes. Brits Bradley Smith and Michael Laverty finished 12th and 16th respectively. In front of a home crowd Ben Spies finished 13th and the ‘Texas Tornado’ Colin Edwards was forced to retire. It was a Spanish hat-trick as Nico Terol won in Moto2 and Alex Rins won in Moto3.

The Doctor is back in business

The opening round of the 2013 MotoGP season saw the prolific return to form of Valentino Rossi. The Italian, 34, started from seventh on the grid, and appeared to get stuck behind Stefan Bradl before passing the German after 8 laps. Bradl then crashed out a lap later trying to retake 5th place as he strayed on the the dusty part of the track. Rossi the made up a 3.737 second gap to overtake Britain’s Cal Crutchlow at the first corner on lap 19, forcing the Satellite Yamaha rider to run off the track. The nine-time world champion the passed Dani Pedrosa and rookie Marc Marquez in the next two laps, setting up an enthralling duel that set up a battle which has rarely been seen since Rossi’s nightmare switch to Ducati. The rookie Marquez, who is tipped by many to fight for the title this year, jostled with Rossi for the next 3 laps, in a contest fitting of the madness of Moto2. He finished second, almost 6 seconds behind run-away leader Jorge Lorenzo, who led the race from start to finish. Marc Marquez rounded off the podium in third whilst last season’s championship runner up Dani Pedrosa dropped to 4th. Britain’s Cal Crutchlow came 5th, whilst other Brits fared poorly, with Bradley Smith, Crutchlow’s team-mate, crashing out of 11th place 5 laps in to his debut, and Michael Laverty finished 17th on his Paul Bird Motorcycle. Aleix Espargaro finished the leading CRT in 11th place. Aleix’s brother Pol won the Moto2 race and Luis Salom won in Moto3.

Is Fergie all that, and give De Gea a chance

Sir Alex Ferguson – is he all that? Personally, I’m counting the days until he retires. You have to respect his ability to move with the times and create a side that challenges for honours each year, but I’m just tired of him. I’m bored of the ‘mind games’, the excuses and the berating of officials. Fergie has become famous for his pre-match ‘mind games’, but as far as I can see, this is just mindless bullying of officials and other managers. It’s a disgrace how people can actively praise and embrace these primitive outbursts.

The onslaught of abuse doesn’t stop there though. On the touchline, he will constantly scream to any official that will even consider listening. Every mildly contentious decision causes a riot on the touchline, and if Fergie time isn’t at least 5 minutes when United are losing, all hell breaks loose. Even post-match, the officials aren’t safe, as Ferguson had the best view of everything that went on in the match and can’t understand why the officials aren’t as sharp-eyed as him.

Funnily though, the refs that make poor decisions in United’s favour were absolutely right, and when United win, everything’s fine. But Sir Alex uses the first excuse in the book when they drop points, the football equivalent of ‘my dog ate my homework’.  He uses the officials as a shield, deflecting the attention away from his team’s shortcomings. Last week against Spurs was a perfect example, as United didn’t play well enough to win, and spurs ironically grabbed the equaliser deep into Fergie time. Yet it was entirely the linesman’s fault for not giving United a penalty. It’s as if Ferguson believes his team are entitled to penalties. What a joke.

Incidentally, pundits such as Gary Neville criticised keeper David De Gea for Spurs’ goal in that game, amongst reports that Ferguson is looking for a new number one. If Ferguson has any sense, he would deny these rumours and persist with the Spaniard. De Gea is obviously a confidence player and the constant rotation between him and Lindegaard is only making him settle slower to the physicality of the premier league. He is an excellent shot stopper and will get stronger and more confident with time, like Schmeichel did. He’s still only 22, which is incredibly young for a top keeper. Giving him playing time will lead to him being one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, and possibly an all time great.