The tragic and yet unexplained passing of Luis Salom has resulted in the slower F1 layout being used for the 2016 Catalunya GP. The changes include a sharp right hander at turn 10 and a chicane being placed before the final turn 15. The two changes have had a massive impact on the race to come, for they suddenly tilt the advantage away from the Yamahas and Suzukis and in favour of the Hondas and Ducatis. The stop and go nature of these two turns disrupt the fast and flowing lines that the earlier layout featured. This is a potential worry for the Yamahas and Suzukis which work best on fast and flowing tracks. Marc Marquez’s legendary late braking skill and Dani Pedrosa’s remarkable exit pickup skill now come into play on the modified layout, giving both the Repsol Honda men a significant advantage over their rivals.

This advantage has translated into Marc Marquez grabbing pole at Catalunya ahead of Lorenzo. Pedrosa is third ahead of Hector Barbera who cleverly drafted his way into fourth. Buddies Rossi and Vinales find themselves in fifth and sixth respectively. This starting order places emphasis on the holeshot into the first corner. Historically, everyone on the front row have been good starters but Lorenzo holds the edge with superior machinery and the best feeling on cold tires working in his favour. Rossi and Vinales can be expected to be slower off the line.

Marc Marquez MotoGP Catalunya

The Hondas coming into play reflects the hard work Honda and their riders have been making to get the RC213V back to winning contention. Both the Yamaha and Honda factory riders have the capacity and pace to clear off into distance, or more likely battle it out for the win. In either case, Mugello will be a tough act to follow and one can only hope that someone will make that happen come race day. Expect to see a lot of overtaking in the first few laps before a gap is set and maintained. Rhythm is the key to staying ahead tomorrow for all the front runners. My gut feeling indicates a fairly straightforward race, with the cleverest riders in the first three laps making the most of the race.

MotoGP Catalunya Qualifying results

Qualifying 2:
1. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 43.589s [Lap 7/7] 338km/h (Top Speed)
2. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 44.056s +0.467s [6/7] 339km/h
3. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 44.307s +0.718s [7/7] 342km/h
4. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 44.322s +0.733s [4/5] 338km/h
5. Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 44.324s +0.735s [7/7] 338km/h
6. Maverick Viñales ESP Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) 1m 44.329s +0.740s [7/7] 336km/h
7. Cal Crutchlow GBR LCR Honda (RC213V) 1m 44.366s +0.777s [6/6] 335km/h
8. Andrea Iannone ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP) 1m 44.458s +0.869s [6/7] 344km/h
9. Danilo Petrucci ITA Octo Pramac Yakhnich (Desmosedici GP15) 1m 44.911s +1.322s [5/6] 338km/h
10. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP) 1m 45.029s +1.440s [6/6] 342km/h
11. Scott Redding GBR Octo Pramac Yakhnich (Desmosedici GP15) 1m 45.030s +1.441s [6/7] 339km/h
12. Pol Espargaro ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 45.218s +1.629s [6/7] 336km/h

Qualifying 1:
13. Aleix Espargaro ESP Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) 1m 44.914s 333km/h
14. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 45.197s 336km/h
15. Michele Pirro ITA Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 45.538s 336km/h
16. Yonny Hernandez COL Aspar MotoGP Team (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 45.690s 341km/h
17. Eugene Laverty IRL Aspar MotoGP Team (Desmosedici GP14.2) 1m 45.885s 337km/h
18. Stefan Bradl GER Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 1m 45.892s 335km/h
19. Jack Miller AUS Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS (RC213V) 1m 45.942s 336km/h
20. Tito Rabat ESP Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS (RC213V)* 1m 46.205s 333km/h
21. Alvaro Bautista ESP Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 1m 46.463s 334km/h