Drama, Records, Saves, Crashes And Tension Characterise A History-Making Day At Valencia As Pedrosa Wins The Race And Marquez The Title
In a stunningly dramatic and tense #FinalShowdown at Valencia, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took his sixth world title and fourth MotoGP™ World Championship despite a huge front end moment into Turn 1 and a run off track, coming home third in the race to defend his crown. Title rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) similarly suffered a run off from P4, but the Italian was unable to save it and sadly crashed out of contention in the race and Championship.
At the front, the race was a duel to the line between Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Johann Zarco – with the race decided in favour of the Spaniard on final lap as Pedrosa pounced and defended to perfection for his second victory of the year.
Marquez got the holeshot from pole, with teammate Pedrosa slicing through from the second row to take over in second – and Zarco pushed down to third. Dovizioso made a good start to move up to sixth, then past Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and glued to the back of the second Ducati of Jorge Lorenzo.
Early on, Zarco took over in the lead – with Marquez seeing him coming and slotting into second. Pedrosa remained in third, with the two Ducati machines glued together around a second behind and the tense tick of the clock counting down.
After a Zarco error, a Marquez pass and then the Frenchman hitting back, laps ticked down before Marquez struck for the lead – and ran wide. Sliding on his knee for a stunning save into Turn 1, the reigning Champion headed for the gravel – but managed to rejoin, yet behind Dovizioso.
Lorenzo then bolted to chase down Pedrosa and Zarco ahead, before the Ducati Team rider went down suddenly – and just as suddenly, the dream was over for his teammate. A run off into the gravel that couldn’t be saved saw Dovizioso’s title hopes disappear after a nevertheless stunning season to take the runner up spot.
Dani Pedrosa vs Johann Zarco was then the duel for the win, with Pedrosa initially attacking at the final corner but the Frenchman able to hit back. As the last lap dawned, the Spaniard tucked in and then pounced into Turn 1, managing to hold off Zarco around the tight Circuit Ricardo Tormo Circuit to take his second victory of the season.
Marquez, back into the podium places after the falls ahead, kept his calm to the end to take third and the title, making him the youngest ever six-time World Champion and the youngest to take four premier class Championships.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) put in an impressive rookie ride into fourth, ahead of Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) after a more difficult race for the ‘Doctor’. Iannone dropped back slightly after a run off at Turn 1 to take sixth, ahead of a great final race with EG 0,0 Marc VDS for Jack Miller in P7. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) moved up after crashing out in Q1 and qualifying outside the top ten to cross the line in P8, with Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) putting in another solid wildcard appearance to come home in ninth. Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) also impressed, locking out the top ten.
Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounded out the Austrian factory’s first season in the premier class in P11, and it was a tough weekend and final race of 2017 for third-placed in the Championship Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), as the Spaniard came home in P12. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing), Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) and Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing) completed the points in the #FinalShowdown, with the dust settling around the dramatic final race as the flag flew.
That’s a wrap on a stunning season to savour, with 2017 having provided some of the most incredible racing ever seen. Marquez retains the crown, and Dovizioso fought to the end – and on Tuesday, the clock resets once again. #2018StartsNow.
MotoGP Race Results: 1. Dani Pedrosa (SPA – Honda) 42’08.125 3. Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) +10.861
1st Independent Team Rider: 2. Johann Zarco (FRA – Yamaha) +0.337
Moto2: Three Cheers For Oliveira As He Takes Outstanding Third Win
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) made it a stunning third time in a row for KTM to cheer him over the line in the lead at Valencia, hunting down Champion Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) to pull clear for win number three on the bounce. Teammate Brad Binder made it another double podium for the Austrian factory, completing the podium for a third visit to the rostrum in a row.
It was both EG 0,0 Marc VDS riders dueling into Turn 1, and Alex Marquez emerged with the early lead from pole before Morbidelli was able to battle through and take over – leaving a three-way scrap for second between Marquez, Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Oliveira before a sudden crash for the Italian. Marquez then held firm ahead of the KTM rider for a number of laps before Oliveira and teammate Binder were able to both attack, with the Portuguese rider then focused forward on the hunt for Morbidelli and a third consecutive win.
With seven laps to go, Oliveira had his KTM glued to the Kalex of Morbidelli and the following lap saw the Portuguese rider slam through into the lead at Turn 4. Oliveira then unstoppable in the lead, the newly-crowned Champion was forced to follow the KTM rider home and say goodbye to the intermediate class in second. Binder completed the podium after proving able to pull away from those behind.
Rookie of the Year Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) battled Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) for fifth before pulling away from the Malaysian rider and then catching Marquez; able to pass the rider from Cervera in the latter stages. The number 73 took P5, with Syahrin in P6.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) said goodbye to the intermediate class ahead of his graduation to MotoGP™ with seventh, ahead of a solid final rookie ride for Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40). Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) crossed the line in P9 after making some late progress, with Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) completing the top ten as top Suter once again.
Axel Pons (RW Racing GP), Isaac Viñales (BE-A-VIP SAG Team), Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP), rookie Augusto Fernandez (Speed Up Racing) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) locked out the points scorers in the season finale, bringing the curtain down on another stunning year of racing as the cava flows and another season appears on the horizon…with testing underway soon.
For Morbidelli and Nakagami, soon means Tuesday as they prepare to move up to the premier class.
Moto2 Race Results: 1. Miguel Oliveira (POR – KTM) 43’15.843 2. Franco Morbidelli (ITA – Kalex) + 2.154 3. Brad Binder (RSA – KTM) + 4.181
Moto3: Martin’s Flawless Maiden Win & Mir’s Miracle Comeback
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) took a stunning maiden win at the Valencia GP, launching into the lead from his ninth pole position of the year and then able to escape at the front. Over three seconds further back over the line, newly-crowned Champion Joan Mir put in the ride of his life for second – recovering from the tail end of the top twenty to complete the podium in a stunning final Moto3™ appearance. Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate) completed the podium, just unable to overtake the Majorcan in the final sector but close at the flag.
It was Martin who got the holeshot from pole with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing Team) slotting into second, but the Argentinean rider then slid out early and left the polesitter out front – and Joan Mir off track as the new Champion was forced to avoid the fallen rider ahead of him. Martin’s gap was then over two seconds to the chasing group behind, with the battle for second seeing a squabble break out and the Del Conca Gresini Moto3 rider able to take further advantage to pull clear.
There was sudden drama in that battle soon after as Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) clipped Marcos Ramirez on the start finish straight, with the Italian rider managing to stay clear of the traffic as he fell, rider ok. Mir was on the fight back behind, already having moved up from P19 to P11 within a handful of laps – but then with more than two seconds to make up to reach the top ten. Head down and focused forward, the Majorcan was in the podium battle with nine to go as he sliced through the field.
By five to go, Mir was in second and starting to cut the gap to leader Martin – but with such a margin, it would prove an impossible task. The Majorcan reeled him in but Martin was solid at the front as the laps ticked down to his first win, pulling a wheelie over the line to convert pole into victory on the ninth time of asking.
Behind Ramirez it was an Italian battle for fourth as Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) just beat Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0) in the former’s last Moto3™ appearance, with Juanfran Guevara (RBA BOE Racing) locking out the top six. It was a magnificent seventh position for reigning FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Champion Dennis Foggia (Sky Junior Team VR46 Academy) as he put in a wildcard appearance at the track he dominated at junior level, ahead of another stunning slice through the field from John McPhee (British Talent Team) on his final outing with the BTT squad.
Reigning Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion and wildcard Kazuki Masaki (Asia Talent Team) completed the top ten behind local hero Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), with P12 taken by Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), who fell back slightly at the start but took good points.
Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took thirteenth ahead of a good race for Ayumu Sasaki (SIC Racing Team) – who confirmed himself as Rookie of the Year – with Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) locking out the points scorers in the season finale.
Now, there are those who regroup for another assault in 2018 and those who move up for a new challenge in Moto2™. And the new season is just around the corner…
Moto3 Race Results: 1. Jorge Martin (SPA – Honda) 40’02.193 2. Joan Mir (SPA – Honda) + 3.760 3. Marcos Ramirez (SPA – KTM) + 3.877
Words and images courtesy of www.motogp.com