A scrap between a home hero and his teammate that went down to the very last corner. Catalunya 2009 was a crazy race.
Yamaha vs Yamaha, Jorge Lorenzo vs Valentino Rossi, a battle which went down to the very last corner on identical machinery. The race was not just for the win, it was for pride, to be the fastest man on the Fiat Yamaha. Jorge Lorenzo was in his second year in the MotoGP class and had already established himself as a threat to Valentino Rossi who was much older than Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha were starting to favour Lorenzo in regard to future plans which eventually led to Valentino Rossi moving to Ducati, but that is a story for another time.
Donning a special Barcelona FC helmet, number and suit colour configuration at the Catalan round held close to the Camp Nou of Barcelona, it was clear to see that Jorge Lorenzo wanted to be the home hero this race, and why shouldn’t he, winning on home soil is the dream for many riders, however, he had one obstacle in his way, 8-time World Champion Valentino Rossi who was completely and utterly relentless during the race.
Every time Lorenzo showed the smallest bit of a gap, you could bet your life savings on Rossi sticking his front tyre in said gap, re-taking the lead, give him an inch and he will take a mile.
The last lap is one of the most famous in MotoGP history, the pair began the lap a whole 8 seconds ahead of third-placed man Casey Stoner following a race-long fight which would see the pair chopping and changing positions every lap, no matter who was in front, the other rider was on their tail, lapping consistently within 0.100 of each other, everyone knew that this was going down to the final lap.
Every time either Lorenzo or Rossi would try to open up a gap, the other would simply up their pace to match this, the tyres worked perfectly and neither rider made a mistake, making it virtually impossible to predict the race winner. Valentino Rossi was a demon on the brakes into turn 1, any sort of advantage made up by Lorenzo was usually lost in the entrance to turn 1 with Rossi overtaking him, braking significantly later than Lorenzo, on the penultimate lap into turn 1, Lorenzo drafted Rossi down the straight, overtaking him before moving across into the line Rossi was riding on, defensively stopping Rossi, so Lorenzo thought… Rossi somehow managed to find a way past, millimetres from the rumble strip on the edge of the track to regain first place.
However, the last lap began differently, Lorenzo had learned from his mistake, overtaking Rossi on the straight and allowing absolutely no room to overtake in turn one with Rossi trying to cut back into turn 2 before the door was ruthlessly slammed shut by ‘The Doctor’, Lorenzo kept the lead, hanging off of the bike through turn 3 with Rossi in pursuit, this was until turn 4 when Rossi saw a gap and went for it, overtaking Lorenzo for the lead, however, Rossi overcooked it and went wide, giving Lorenzo the race lead back.
Turn 5 saw Rossi have a look at Lorenzo but decided to play it cool and calm, staying behind the Spaniard, building up for a move in the following corners, Lorenzo maintained his lead for the next few corners, riding incredibly defensively into turn 10 to evade any sort of attack from Rossi.
Lorenzo’s defence systems were activated into turn 10
Before the weekend begun, Jorge Lorenzo said “if you go into the corners after turn 10 first, you will win the race,” or so he thought. Rossi was hot on Lorenzo’s tail into turns 12 and 13, turn 14 was where the action happened, a corner ‘impossible’ to overtake at, it is one of the unwritten rules that you do not overtake at turn 14 due to how fast it is, there is absolutely no room to overtake, so you cannot imagine the shock on Lorenzo’s face when he thought he had won the race, just to see a flash of yellow and blue blast past him, overtaking him at the final corner of the circuit before kissing the apex, keeping a clean, smooth line against the apex which Lorenzo could not retaliate with.
Rossi entered the straight with a huge advantage on momentum to take the race win, his side of the Yamaha box exploding into celebration following this, it was clear to see the huge disappointment on Jorge Lorenzo, despite wearing a helmet.
The championship standings after the race had Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner all tied on 106 points.
Catalunya 2009 is a race which goes down in history as being one of the most exhilarating last laps you will ever see.
Relive the final lap in full:
Featured images – www.motogp.com