Northern Ireland’s Eugene Laverty claimed his best MotoGP finish to date as the Aspar Honda rider crossed the line in an impressive 12th place at Catalunya in Spain.
It was the third race in succession that saw the Toomebridge man finish inside the points as the Open class rider crossed the line two seconds behind fellow premier class rookie Jack Miller on the CWM LCR Honda.
The race was won by Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, who held off the late challenge of team-mate Valentino Rossi to score his fourth consecutive victory to close to within a point of Rossi at the top of the championship.
Lorenzo prevailed by just 0.885s to slash Rossi’s deficit ahead of the next round at Assen in the Netherlands.
Spaniard Lorenzo immediately found his rhythm and led from start to finish, much to the delight of the home crowd.
Following the race, he said: “It was very hot, so it has been difficult. Valentino improves in these conditions, I get a little worse.
“The bike was moving a lot. We didn’t make mistakes, Valentino pushed me so hard, but in the end it has been hard work.”
Rossi added: “In the third row I lost time. I’m happy because I had a good pace and setting. My speed was equal to Jorge.
“In seven races there is one point difference and we have the same speed. It will be interesting I think.”
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa finished third, over 19 seconds behind Lorenzo, while reigning world champion Marc Marquez crashed out at turn 10 on the third lap as he battled Lorenzo for the lead.
The mistake appears to have ended any hopes Marquez had of retaining his world crown for the Repsol Honda team.
Aleix Espargaro, who started in pole for Suzuki, also crashed with just five laps to go with a podium finish in sight.
Ducati’s Andrea Iannone finished fourth on the GP15 machine behind Pedrosa ahead of Bradley Smith on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha.
Maverick Vinales, who had joined his Suzuki team-mate on the front row, finished sixth on the GSX-RR ahead of Scott Redding and Stefan Bradl.