Some familiar faces were on the podium in Valencia, with the final glory of the season decided
Marc Marquez claimed victory number 12 of the season at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, making the Repsol Honda Team Team Champions to add to his rider title and the constructors’ Championship – the triple crown. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo also scored points in his final MotoGP™ rider, with the five-time World Champion bidding an emotional farewell to the sport. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), meanwhile, signed off with another impressive podium in second, and he pipped Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) to the title of top Independent Team rider as the Aussie followed him home in third.
Miller launched his Pramac Racing machine into the holeshot, with Marquez getting a sluggish getaway from the middle of the front row to drop down to P6, having run slightly wide at Turn 1. Polesitter Quartararo then grabbed the lead from Miller as the Australian ran wide at Turn 2, with the Frenchman quickly creating a small gap to his rivals. Heading into Turn 1 on Lap 2, Marquez was into P3 past the fast-starting duo of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), however, and it wouldn’t take the 2019 Champion long to pick off Miller as he locked his radar onto Quartararo.
The Rookie of the Year’s lead was 0.7 over Marquez, with the latter racing to an eight-tenths advantage over Miller. Marquez was creeping up to the back of the leading M1 slowly but surely, and on Lap 8 a surprise, late but super fine move at Turn 11 saw the number 93 lead. Suddenly third place Miller – with Dovizioso and Rins in tow – had closed the gap to less than half a second, the top five covered by 1.7. However, Marquez was in the groove and the eight-time Champion had pulled to over half a second clear of Quartararo, with the gap hovering between 0.6 and 0.8 for a number of laps after. Miller wasn’t letting Quartararo have P2 all his own way either, that margin was remaining at a second – enough to keep the number 20 on his toes.
Everyone held firm before a tenth here and a tenth there saw Marquez stretch his advantage to one and a half seconds with six laps remaining, with Miller cutting the gap to Quartararo down by four tenths. It was 0.6, but was there a late twist for P2 inbound? Not quite, Miller didn’t have enough speed to catch the back of the M1 by the time the chequered flag was waved, with Marquez taking another 25-point haul to land Repsol Honda Team the 2019 triple crown, Quartararo taking another podium and beating Miller to top Independent Team rider.
Dovizioso and Ducati’s aims of picking up the Teams title didn’t materialise in Valencia, but P4 was a solid result for the Italian who was comfortably best of the rest in 2019. Rins capped off a fine season by claiming P5 at his home Grand Prix, however it wasn’t enough to grab P3 in the Championship from sixth place finisher Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – the Malaysian GP winner having a quiet final round of the season before jumping onto the 2020 Yamaha on Tuesday.
Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in seventh was a great way to round off a very solid rookie MotoGP™ campaign, the Spaniard ending 2019 with five consecutive top 10s after an impressive comeback from his testing crash at Brno. Valentino Rossi’s (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) P8 sees the nine-time World Champion end the season P7 in the overall standings, with Aleix coming out on top in the battle of the Espargaro brothers – P9 for Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), P10 for Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). That makes it all factories in the top ten.
Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), Johann Zarco (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) all crashed at Turn 6, on Lap 14, in separate incidents, although Lecuona was close behind Zarco and the Frenchman got flipped by the KTM. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) also crashed – all riders ok.
On his final ever MotoGP™ ride, five-time World Champion and future MotoGP™ Legend Jorge Lorenzo finished P13. It was an emotional day for the Spaniard who arrived back into pitlane to rapturous applause, with the Valencia fans paying their full respects to one of the sport’s greatest ever riders on his cool-down lap. #ThankYouJorge!
So, 2019 draws to a close. But don’t worry, 2020 is just around the corner! Testing begins in Valencia on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 November – so stay tuned! Rookies, new bikes, old rivalries and another season of awesome competition is just around the corner.
“The perfect season. So difficult to improve this season because the way we rode all season, the consistency and everything, has been amazing. Finishing the season with a victory, riding with a gold helmet – which is always extra pressure because if you ride with a gold helmet you need to be smart and clever – is special too but also for all the Repsol Honda Team it was important too. The Teams Championship. We achieved it, the triple crown. An amazing, amazing season and all the team deserve it.”
MotoGP Race Results: 1. Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) 41’21.469 2. Fabio Quartararo* (FRA – Yamaha) +1.026 3. Jack Miller* (AUS – Ducati) +2.409
*Independent Team Riders
Moto2™: Binder makes it a hat-trick to sign off from Moto2™ in style
South African takes his fifth win of the season to finish second overall by just three points, with Lüthi and Navarro on the chase
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) leaves the intermediate class on a high after taking his fifth win of the year – and third in a row – in the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. The South African played his cards to perfection to out-duel his main rival for second overall, Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), with the Swiss rider forced to settle for second on the day and third in the standings. Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) completed the podium on true home turf, the Valencian taking his eighth podium of the year.
Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took the holeshot from second on the grid, with Lüthi up into second and Binder making a storming getaway to soon attack Navarro for third. Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward) was one big loser off the front row as he got shuffled down to sixth, but the field remained tightly packed for the first lap and for many it stayed that way to the end – including the battle at the front.
Two men soon emerged in the early stages, however: Binder and Lüthi. The duo, fighting over second overall in the standings, didn’t take long to take their duel to the front, with Navarro the man on the chase. A couple of laps later the gaps between the front three were pretty equal though, with Martin left heading the fight for fourth ahead of Manzi.
Lüthi, however, was turning the screw, and the Swiss rider was able to start pulling out another gap. But Binder was able to respond, and not too long after Navarro and Manzi, who had dispatched Martin, had closed in too. It was a concertina between two duels and a four-way fight, but Binder had a plan.
Leaving it late, the South African pounced to perfection with a couple of laps to go, then pulling the pin and blasting away to give himself a gap. Uncatchable, Binder crossed the line seven tenths clear for his fifth win of the season.
He also, therefore, beat Lüthi both on the day and in the standings overall as the Swiss rider was forced to settle for second, able to stay clear of the clutches of Navarro and Manzi. That duel got even closer at the final corner as the Italian looked to be sizing up a move and then tried to out-drag the Speed Up to the line, but it wasn’t to be and Navarro took yet another podium to end his season on a high on home turf.
Martin was fifth as he managed to fend off an Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) on the charge, with Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) not too far off the two ahead of him either and taking P7. Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) finished off his season in eighth, just pipping Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up). But the number 21 wrapped up Rookie of the Year with ninth place, with closest rival Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) in P13.
Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) completed the top ten, with a bit of breathing space back to Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2). Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Temporary Forward) was 13th and made it two MVs in the points, ahead of Bastianini.
Jake Dixon took fourteenth and rounded out his time with the Inde Angel Nieto Team with his best weekend of the season, with Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) completing the points.
Newly-crowned Champion Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), meanwhile, made a great start to move up into fifth by the latter stages of the race, but disaster struck for the number 73 at Turn 11 as he slid out of contention.
That’s it from 2019 and an incredible season of racing in the intermediate class. You could say it was a triumph, and it certainly was for the top three: Marquez’ points advantage was just three after the final race, with Binder’s brilliant win securing him second overall. Lüthi’s podium assured him third, with Navarro’s doing the same for fourth. Now it’s time to rest, test and repeat – so make sure to join us again for 2020.
“I don’t know where to start, I need to say a big thank you to my team, things got really tough at one stage and we managed to keep fighting and stay focused. We didn’t get the job done in the end but to be three points from the winner is incredible . I just need to say a huge thank you to all my guys, to KTM…I’m so happy to have finished off on a high for them and I can’t wait to get started on Tuesday!”
Moto2™ Race Results: 1. Brad Binder (RSA – KTM) 25’30.766 2. Tom Lüthi (SWI – Kalex) +0.735 3. Jorge Navarro (SPA – Speed Up) +1.045
Moto3™: Garcia grabs maiden win with a last corner lunge
0.005 splits the top two, with Artigas making a stunning debut in third
Rookie Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) took a stunning maiden Moto3™ victory on home turf at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, returning to a top step he knows well from the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship thanks to a last corner pass on Andrea Migno (Mugen Race). A breakaway group of seven riders battled for victory after an initial red-flagged lightweight class race as wildcard Xavier Artigas claimed a phenomenal debut rostrum on board his Leopard Impala Junior Team machine.
Before the riders had even got to the grid, there was big drama. On the sighting lap at Turn 6, home favourite Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) suffered an issue with his KTM and the Valencian rider crashed. Due to fluids dropped, the start of the race was delayed, with a five-minute re-start procedure then put in place ahead of am 11:11am local time lights out.
The race then started and it was Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) who got the holeshot from the front row, heading Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing), but Masia’s race would end prematurely. Turn 4 saw the Spaniard highside out of the race – leaving him with a dislocated shoulder – which left Ramirez with a handy lead, 0.7 on the opening lap and over a second to polesitter Migno on the second, before a multiple rider incident occurred a little further behind on Lap 2. 2019 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) lost control of his KTM at Turn 11, which left reigning Moto3™ Junior World Champion Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) and Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), who hit Tatay’s stricken KTM, with nowhere to go. The Red Flag came out, with Foggia receiving immediate treatment trackside before heading to hospital for further checks, later confirmed as unhurt. The others were back on their feet, and the race was then restarted for a distance of 15 laps.
Lights out for the restart and Migno was the man to lead the field into the first corner from Ramirez as the top six of Migno, Ramirez, Garcia, Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Canet – who was allowed to start P4 – and Filip Salac (Redox PrüstelGP) immediately broke over a second clear. Further back on Lap 4 there was a big crash for four riders in the chasing pack: 2019 Champion Lorenzo Dalla Porta highsided his Leopard Racing Honda at Turn 4 which left Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers), John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) with nowhere to go – all riders ok.
Meanwhile, wildcard Artigas was rapidly making progress and the young Spaniard soon reeled in the leading six riders to make it a seven rider scrap for the lead. And with six to go, Artigas had picked off his more experienced rivals to lead for the first time. Then, the pack started to stretch as Artigas landed the fastest lap of the race, with Migno, Suzuki and Garcia managing to stick with him. Salac was just hanging on half a second back but it seemed as if the podium fight was over for Ramirez and Canet. With four to go, Artigas’ dream victory was well and truly in his sights as Migno and Garcia viciously scrapped for P2. Then, with two laps remaining, Artigas was wide at Turn 1, allowing Garcia and Suzuki to pass, but then all three were wide at Turn 2, allowing Migno to slide his way to the forefront. The chopping and changing had allowed Salac to join the fight, making it a five-way fight for victory in Valencia.
Polesitter Migno, going in search of his first win since the 2017 Italian GP, led onto the final lap, with Garcia, Artigas, Suzuki and Salac – in that order – close in pursuit. Smelling a maiden Grand Prix win, Garcia dived up the inside of Migno at Turn 2 but the Italian was back underneath at Turn 3. Turn 4 then saw the lead change again with Garcia dicing his way back to P1, before Migno again had the baton at Turn 5. Suzuki was through on Artigas at Turn 11 as Migno held the lead coming around the sweeping, downhill left-hander, but Garcia was coming. The Spaniard lined up a pass and made it stick into the last corner, with Artigas doing the same on Suzuki just metres behind. Would Garcia hold it on the run to the flag? Yes, but only just! 0.005 split Garcia and Migno on the line while Artigas held off Suzuki for the final podium place.
Salac takes home his best ever result in P5, and Canet’s final Moto3™ race ended with a P6 in front of his home fans. After the troubles he had ahead of the race, that at least sees him finish as 2019 Moto3™ runner-up. Ramirez slipped back to finish P7 on his last Moto3™ ride, the duo both making the leap up to Moto2™ in 2020, with Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) picking up Moto3™ Rookie of the Year thanks to his P8 finish.
Yurchenko, despite being caught up in the Red-Flag incident, pocketed P9 – his second top 10 of the year – while Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) took home P10.
Valresa Angel Nieto Team’s Albert Arenas and Raul Fernandez crashed separately at Turn 5 – riders ok.
And that’s a wrap. A hugely dramatic way to end the 2019 season as we see a first-time winner and first-time podium finisher in Valencia, with the result the first time a European Talent Cup Champion has stood on a Grand Prix podium, and we had a rookie winner. What will 2020 bring?
“It’s incredible to finish the year like this and I’m very happy with the bike and all my team. And the race, it was difficult because the wind was very high and for my bike, it was not a good thing. I fought with Migno until the last corner and I’m very happy!'”
Moto3™ Race Results: 1. Sergio Garcia (SPA – Honda) 25’17.918 2. Andrea Migno (ITA – KTM) +0.005 3. Xavier Artigas (SPA – Honda) +0.180
Words and images courtesy of www.motogp.com