Valentino Rossi chalked up his first MotoGP win of the season with a dominant lights-to-flag display at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The nine-time world champion took the chequered flag in Jerez well ahead of Movistar Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, while Honda’s Marc Marquez ran a distant third.
Rossi jumped best from pole position but was forced to stave off a vigorous attack from Lorenzo early on.
Having been held at bay on the opening lap, Lorenzo dived underneath the Italian on Lap 2 but could not make the move stick.
Rossi instead set about edging away at a rate of around 0.2s per lap.
Lorenzo began to eat into the advantage just beyond the halfway mark of the 27-lap journey, but ‘The Doctor’ responded to complete a comfortable win.
“I think that this was the perfect weekend because we started to go faster,” reflected Rossi.
“From Friday morning we worked very well, and the bike in the race was fantastic.”
Lorenzo revealed after the race that a lack of rear tyre grip hampered his challenge.
“Rossi was a little bit faster than me at the beginning of the race, but in the middle I could keep the distance, then suddenly the centre of the tyre on the straight was spinning like I had a wet tyre,” said Lorenzo.
“I had to use 80 percent of throttle so I lost a lot. It’s a pity because I could probably win the race with a very big margin but I had to slow down and finish the race.”
The Spaniard had suggested that a ‘defective’ rear tyre also hindered his qualifying session the day prior.
Marquez had to settle for a lonely run to third after initially going with Lorenzo, while his Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa finished fourth thanks largely to a strong start from seventh on the grid.
Aleix Espargaro, Maverick Viñales, Andrea Iannone, Pol Espargaro, Eugene Laverty, and Hector Barbera completed the top 10.
Iannone had fallen to as low as 14th early on after qualifying 11th, before gradually climbing through the field and passing Pol Espargaro with five laps remaining.
On the other Ducati, Andrea Dovizioso’s nightmare run continued when he missed the points again due to a mechanical problem.
Dovizioso’s last three race results read 13th, DNF, and DNF after being taken out in the previous two rounds in Argentina and America.
Marquez continues to lead the World Championship although his advantage has been cut to 17 points.
MotoGP heads to Le Mans in France for Round 5 from May 6-8.
Result: MotoGP Spanish Grand Prix
|8||Pol Espargaro||Tech3 Yamaha||27||+30.750s|
|9||Eugene Laverty||Aspar Ducati||27||+32.325s|
|10||Hector Barbera||Avintia Ducati||27||+32.624s|
|11||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||27||+38.497s|
|12||Bradley Smith||Tech3 Yamaha||27||+39.669s|
|13||Loris Baz||Avintia Ducati||27||+45.227s|
|15||Yonny Hernandez||Aspar Ducati||27||+47.988s|
|16||Michele Pirro||Pramac Ducati||27||+49.414s|
|17||Jack Miller||Marc VDS Honda||27||+49.513s|
|18||Tito Rabat||Marc VDS Honda||27||+53.334s|
|19||Scott Redding||Pramac Ducati||27||+1:05.555s|