Aleix Espargaro may have given Suzuki their first pole in eight years yesterday but there's little doubt amongst the MotoGP field as to who the favourite is for today's Catalan Grand Prix. A straw poll in the paddock came back with an emphatic response of Jorge Lorenzo as the man to beat.
When asked if he felt that Marc Marquez had the pace to go with Lorenzo over the course of a 25 lap race Cal Crutchlow said:
"Nobody's got the pace of Lorenzo, again, Lorenzo is using the tire he used in the morning, so he's got 33 laps on it at the end, and he's doing a faster lap than most people were doing anyway. He does a 1'43.0 after 33 laps, people are doing 1'43.0s after ten laps. That's the reality. But this morning, he was doing 1'41s like they were easy. But again, it shows you don't need the horsepower or the speed, you just need the grip."
Lorenzo's chief title rival, Valentino Rossi, has a six point lead in the standings but starting from the third row means that this could be the day that the Italian relinquishes that title lead. When asked about the race he said, "I think Jorge has the best pace. Also both of the Hondas are not so bad. This time I am more close and I think I can be more competitive for the race."
Espargaro was keen to stress how difficult a task it will be for him to finish on the podium and he feels that Marquez has the potential to challenge in the race:
"Andrea[Dovizioso] is always strong in the race," said the pole sitter. "But in FP4 he had new tyres and was following Marquez and even like this his pace was not much more than Marc with used tyres. So I think Marc has shown he has a really good pace this weekend. It’s very strange to not see Marc in the top three, because he’s fast in qualifying, but I think he will be one of the riders to challenge for the win tomorrow."
While he's dominated the last three races and looks set to be capable of doing so again Lorenzo was in no mood to dismiss his rivals with the four times world champion saying that it's very dangerous to underestimate Rossi on race day:
"On Sunday everything is possible," said Lorenzo. "You can have a good feeling or sometimes not. You know the temperature is not so high, so for us it could be a little advantage and I demonstrate a good pace. On Sunday you have to go there with the pressure and have to do it as well. I think we are ready but we have to do it.
"Valentino is a Sunday rider. Not so many pole positions if you compare with how many victories he has so that means he feels much better to have a good pace during all the race. And he’s always there. Our bike is very competitive, keeping a constant pace at all the tracks so for sure Vale is trying to get the best set-up. He is going to be one of the favourites for victory, no doubt about it. The leadership, I don’t know. It depends on the result tomorrow."
The MotoGP race will start at 1pm British time.