Rossi Owns at Spanish MotoGP

The nine-time champion hits his stride.

Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty

Valentino Rossi has been in vintage form in Jerez this weekend—ageless, ruthless, and brutally fast. Starting from pole position, the 37-year old dominated the Spanish MotoGP on Sunday, taking his first victory of the season. The only challenge came from (soon to be ex-) Yamaha teammate, Jorge Lorenzo. He briefly passed Rossi on the ninth lap, but soon settled into second place, finishing 2.3 seconds back. Defending champion Marc Márquez held off Dani Pedrosa to take third on the Repsol Honda. His lead in the MotoGP rider standings has been cut down to 17 points.

This marks the first time since 2009 the race hasn’t been won by Spanish rider.

Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty

Jorge Lorenzo leads from Marc Márquez midway through the Spanish MotoGP at Circuito de Jerez.

Besides the resurgence of Rossi, who hadn’t put a bike on pole since last June, everyone was talking about rubber. Márquez says his front slick was too soft and washy, and hampered braking. Lorenzo blamed the rear, claiming he could only go 80 percent throttle on the straights on account of traction, and that wheelspin cost him the win. Also, most of the Michelin crew missed Saturday practice after a stomach virus got passed around. So, yeah, rough weekend for tires.

Four rounds down, fourteen to go. Márquez, the unstoppable force, had won two straight races before Spain; Rossi, the immovable object, looks to have finally hit his stride. Next up on the MotoGP calendar: Le Mans, on May 8.