Using Amazon this Christmas? Use the Soup link and help a site that still says “Merry Christmas”. Thanks.
Italian unstoppable ahead of Rins and an incredible first podium for Pol Espargaro and KTM
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) claimed the final MotoGP™ victory of 2018 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, finishing ahead of an on-form Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and a stunning result for Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as the Spaniard took his first premier class podium and the first for KTM in MotoGP™. The dramatic race was red-flagged and restarted in heavy rain at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, and saw a large number of riders fall foul of the tough conditions – not least reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi. But the show had to go on – delay notwithstanding – and go on it did.
On the original start, Rins had destroyed the field to gain a huge lead after only a couple of corners, and the rain was falling but not heavy. The conditions remained difficult, however, and a good few big names – including some wet specialists – found themselves sliding out. They included a highside that skittled Marquez into the gravel from podium contention, and a high-speed tumble for Viñales after a good initial getaway. Pol Espargaro crashed out of P4 at Turn 3 after a stunning start, but he was incredibly able to re-join. Brother Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing), teammate Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) and Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) also all crashed out and couldn’t get back in it, but Rossi? At that stage, he was only getting faster as the rain was getting worse.
Eventually, however, the volume of rain was starting to beat the circuit’s ability to drain and the Red Flag came out. The race would be re-started for 14 laps, and the grid would be decided by the standings as of the last completed lap – meaning it was Rins on pole, Dovizioso second, Rossi third and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) lining up fourth in his final race. 14 laps and the end of an era for many…
The front row held station as the lights went out for ‘Race 2’ and all 16 riders safely negotiated the opening exchanges, with Rins leading. However, Dovizioso was once again able to get the power down on his GP18 to slice past Rins heading onto lap 2 – with Rossi in close pursuit. The three leaders quickly gapped fourth place Espargaro by 2.9 seconds, and Pedrosa tucked in behind the KTM in P5.
By then, the rain was starting to fall once again and conditions were still incredibly tough. Nevertheless, the leading trio were all lapping in the low 1:43s – two seconds quicker than anyone else as it soon became a three horse race for the final win of 2018.
On Lap 6, Dovizioso then pulled the pin to create a one-second gap back to Rins – a 1:49.921 creating that gap, with 1.5 seconds then splitting the trio. Another fastest lap soon followed for Dovi, as Rossi made his move past Rins at Turn 4 – 1.5 down on ‘DesmoDovi’. However, with six to go, the gap was up to 2.4 and a lap later, the Ducati rider’s lead was over three seconds. But then, the drama hit again and ‘The Doctor’ was down at Turn 12 – rider ok, but lifting Espargaro and KTM up to a podium place.
As the last lap began, Dovizioso’s advantage was four seconds to Rins as both safely waded their way to the finish line – the Italian taking his first win since Misano and Rins grabbing a fifth podium of the year to claim P5 in the Championship. Then, emotional scenes followed as Espargaro kept Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) at bay to take both his and KTM’s maiden MotoGP™ podium – phenomenal from rider and factory alike after the number 44 rider had crashed earlier, remounted and dueled both Repsol Hondas. After a difficult season for the Austrian marque with injury struggles, it made for an incredible dose of oxygen, so said Espargaro.
Behind him and Pirro came the new MotoGP™ Legend: Pedrosa. The ‘Little Samurai’ took home a hard-earned P5 from his farewell Grand Prix ride on home soil as he helped Repsol Honda secure the triple crown. Behind the three-time Champion was fellow Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), the Japanese rookie taking home a career-best P6 as top Independent Team rider in the race, with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) taking the overall 2018 Independent Team rider honours after crossing the line in P7. The Frenchman held off Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who grabbed his best KTM result on his final ride for the team.
Replacement rider Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda Castrol) crossed the line in P9, with Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) rounding out the top ten – a great ride, but not quite enough to beat Morbidelli to ‘Rookie of the Year’. On his final Grand Prix appearance, Scott Redding (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) claimed a season-best P11, with Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) bringing his Ducati career to an end with a tough P12 on the comeback from injury. Rossi remounted to ride to P13 and P3 in the Championship is the nine-time World Champion’s, with Karel Abraham (Angel Nieto Team) and Jordi Torres (Reale Avintia Racing) claiming the final point-scoring positions. Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) crashed out of his final Grand Prix race with seven to go – rider ok.
With that, the curtain comes down after another sensational end to the 2018 MotoGP™ World Championship – and another magnificent season draws to a close. There’s not long to wait before 2019 begins, however, as engines fire up for testing – and 2019 – on Tuesday.
Fantastic victory by Andrea Dovizioso in the Valencia GP and a great fourth position for Michele Pirro, while Jorge Lorenzo concludes his adventure in Ducati with a twelfth place
Andrea Dovizioso powered his way to a superb win today in the Valencia Grand Prix, a race held in two parts because of the heavy rain that forced Race Direction to interrupt proceedings on lap 14. At that point the Italian rider had just passed Alex Rins to take the lead, but the grid positions for the restart were based on the previous lap’s classification, so Andrea restarted from the front row between Rins and Rossi for the crucial 14-lapper.
As the lights changed, Dovizioso got the holeshot into the first turn and then held off the attacks from his two rivals. After Rossi crashed out, Andrea administered his lead over the Spanish rider until the flag to take his fourth win of the year (Qatar, Czech Republic, San Marino and Valencia).
Jorge Lorenzo finished in twelfth place in his last race with the Ducati Team. The Spanish rider, who was still not entirely fit following the injury to his left wrist, was never able to find a good feeling with his bike because of the tricky conditions of the wet track surface.
An excellent fourth place went to Michele Pirro, who finished just off the podium. The Italian scored the best result in his MotoGP career, ably making use of a second chance to restart for the second race after crashing out and then getting back on track in the first.
Thanks to today’s results the Ducati Team also finished second overall in the special classification reserved for teams.
The 2019 season gets underway this Tuesday and Wednesday, at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, when Danilo Petrucci will team up with Andrea Dovizioso for the first time in the colours of the Ducati Team.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1st
“Today’s was truly a spectacular victory! I have finally managed to win at Valencia, which for me and for Ducati has always been rather a tough track. The first race was very difficult, because Rins started off really strong. I stayed clam however and reeled him in, but Rossi was also recovering and he was very quick so I had to manage the situation while the rain was increasing lap after lap. In the second race we managed to make all the difference because we were able to use a new tyre we hadn’t used in the morning warm-up as well as making a small change to the set-up. I’m really pleased with the way we worked together with the team and to have been able to give them this win, which really helps cheer everyone up. It was a great way to finish the season!”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 12th
“So we’ve arrived at the end of my period in Ducati and I wasn’t able to do the race that I wanted. The conditions were really complicated and it was easy to make a mistake and crash so I preferred not to take too many risks, given the state of my wrist. I did the best I could on this track but I was unable to be competitive. I feel bad for the team because I wanted to say goodbye to them with a good result, but in any case I want to remember all the positive things in the last two years. Even though we know we weren’t able to obtain what we wanted to achieve when I joined Ducati, this year’s wins were really special and I will always have a special place for them in my heart. The rapport with the team has been magnificent: they have always helped me in difficult moments and we have established a friendship that goes beyond mere racing. The professional level of all the engineers and technicians is very high and together we were able to make the Desmosedici GP one of the most competitive bikes on the grid, something that makes me very proud. I also want to thank all the Ducatisti for the support they have given me since the very first day I came to the factory at Borgo Panigale. I will never forget these two years together and a part of my heart will always be a Ducatista.”
Michele Pirro (Ducati Team #51) – 4th
“It was a difficult race because I crashed in the first part, damaging the bike a bit, but I was able to get back on and then the race was interrupted. After the restart, I managed to run at a good pace and I’m disappointed only because I missed out on a podium by just over a second. I’m very pleased however because after my crash at Mugello I once again did a good MotoGP race and Ducati won again at Valencia after many years, which is important for all of us.”
Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager)
“It was a great win in a really tough race: conditions today, especially in the first part, were so difficult and Dovizioso was on top form and he managed to administer a very complicated situation in an intelligent way. Making a mistake in these conditions is always easy but Andrea was simply perfect. Pity about Jorge, who unfortunately struggled in his last race with us, while I’m so pleased with the fourth place by Michele Pirro, who after a crash in the first part made an extraordinary recovery to finish the race just off the podium.”
Valencia (Spain), 18th November 2018
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team were unlucky to score just three points at the Grand Prix of Valencia today, despite both riders showing a very impressive pace in the wet.
Valentino Rossi had a brilliant start from 16th place at the Valencia Grand Prix, gaining five positions in the first corner alone. Perfectly adapting to the truly wet conditions, he cut through the field and was already in seventh place just two laps into the race.
By overtaking his teammate and with several rivals crashing ahead of him, he found himself in third place just four laps later. The potential podium only made him more hungry for the lead. He pushed hard and closed an over 7s gap to the front in less than seven laps to challenge the front runners, but at the start of lap 14 the race was red flagged due to track conditions.
The Valencia GP resumed with a quick restart procedure at 15:00 local track time (GMT+1). The race would be run over 14 laps, with the starting grid based on the standings as of lap 13, putting the Doctor in third place on the grid.
The Italian had a strong start to the sprint. He firmly held his third position through the first corners, but just as he was about to commence his attack in the second half of the second lap, the rain came bucketing down again. Still, he put the pressure on Álex Rins and made his move on lap 7 to snatch second, and he kept pushing. However, he fell victim to the treacherous conditions three laps later, in Turn 12. Still, the Yamaha rider didn‘t give up. He ran back to his bike and rejoined in 13th position, which he held until the chequered flag came out.
Maverick Viñales started the race from pole and as such had the difficult task of judging where the limits were on the slippery track in the opening lap. Not taking too many risks, he entered the first corner in second place and had to let another contender pass as he got a feel for the conditions.
Though he put up a fight on the first lap, he lost some ground after that and was lapping in eighth place on lap 5, behind his teammate. Together they started to shoot up the ranking order, and the Spaniard got a taste for the hunt by lap 11, clocking his fastest lap of the race. However, just a few moments later his venture came to an early halt when he suffered a sudden high-speed crash. Thankfully he was unharmed, but he was unable to join the restart, as he crashed before the end of lap 12.
Today’s results see Rossi hold on to third position in the championship standings. Viñales finished the 2018 season in fourth place. Yamaha came third in the Constructor Championship, while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team is also third in the team standings.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action at the Valencian Ricardo Tormo circuit on Tuesday for the first Official IRTA test of the 2019 pre-season.
It’s disappointing to end both the race weekend and the season in this manner, especially considering how well Valentino and Maverick were riding in the first race. After this morning’s Warm Up, we knew that Vale had a good chance to be competitive at the front, even though he had to start from 16th on the grid. To me his riding was super impressive – he was fighting for the lead! But then the red flags came out, so that meant he had to start from third. He was again strong in the restart, so it’s a great shame that he didn’t get the result today that matched his pace and also his efforts. Maverick was very unlucky in the first race. He managed to ride around the problems a technical issue was giving him and was competing in fourth place. Had just set a new personal best lap when he crashed at very high speed. Of course, the first priority is that he’s OK, and we’re glad that he didn’t sustain any major injuries. However, it was a pity that he crashed during lap 12 and the restarting grid was based on the results as of the start of lap 13. Clearly this is not the way we wanted to finish the season, but our riders really pushed hard in very difficult conditions today, so we couldn’t have asked for more. It was a difficult season overall, but towards the end we made progress, which is the direction we will continue to work in starting from the first official testing days, held this Tuesday and Wednesday.
The feeling was very bad, because the conditions were tricky with four laps to go. We needed this result for my team and Yamaha, to finish the season in a nice way, but unfortunately I made a mistake. It’s a great shame. It was a very similar crash to the one in Malaysia. We don’t understand very well what happened. Maybe at the end we need to pay more attention. Still, it remained a good performance. Until that moment I enjoyed it, because I was strong, and I remained in third place in the championship, which is important.
After the crash, I feel OK. I have no big injuries, only some pain in my shoulder. Anyway, it’s been difficult, because I had a technical problem that didn‘t allow me to be faster at the start of the race. But then I concentrated so well, and I tried to ride very fast. I risked a lot, because for the championship I just needed to be in front of Valentino and he was riding really fast. It was a pity I had this issue, because without it, I would have been at the front fighting with Álex and Dovi. Anyway, we have to be happy that this is the third wet race where we are challenging at the front. I came back very strong from towards the back. Honestly, I’m happy the last five races have been so good. I was consistent and I felt very confident. We understand the bike and found out in which direction we needed to go, and we regained our confidence, so that’s something to take away from 2018. It’s important to understand what happened at the beginning of the season, so we can be smart and don’t make the same mistakes. Now it’s important to try the engines during the upcoming test, but I’m very happy with Yamaha. We are excited to start and I’m very motivated!
Honda clinch 2018 MotoGP Triple Crown in soaked Valencia, at Dani Pedrosa’s final race
Dani Pedrosa completed his racing career in Valencia, scoring a fifth-place finish in incredibly tricky weather conditions that caused the crashes of nine riders—2018 World Champion Marc Marquez among them—and prompted Race Direction to interrupt the first race on lap 13 and re-start a new one half an hour later.
Marc suffered a crash from third place at Turn 9 on lap seven and was therefore unable to take part in the second stint. Dani restarted from fourth in the 11-lap second race and closed fifth, bringing to 46 points the final advantage with which the Repsol Honda Team secured the Team Championship, thereby earning back-to-back MotoGP Triple Crowns, having already achieved the Riders Title in Japan and the Constructors Title in Malaysia.
Dani ends a highly successful 18-year GP career, all of it as a Honda rider, having achieved three World Titles (125 in 2003, 250 in 2004 and 2005) 49 poles, 54 wins, 153 podiums and 64 fastest laps out of 295 starts.
After celebrating at the FIM MotoGP Awards ceremony on Sunday evening, the Repsol Honda Team will start 2019 winter test season on Tuesday, with a two-day test.
“For sure I had a particular feeling before today’s race, knowing that the moment of my final race had arrived. Well, actually it turned out that I had two! Unfortunately the weather was really tricky. In both races, I struggled so much with the rear and couldn’t really get on the gas. I was actually expecting to have a better feeling in the second race, as there was less water on the track. But we changed the tyres and I had no grip, so I could only try and finish the race with no crashes. It’s a bit of a shame, but when I got back to the pits, I found everybody waiting for me—the team, my family, my people—and there was a very emotional atmosphere. I was pleased to see their emotion. It meant a lot to me. Now I’ll have several events to attend, but after that I’ll try and have some time to myself and relax a bit before next year.”
“Today I had a big high-side, but the shoulder was okay, just a bit painful from yesterday. Unfortunately, it was a mistake that I chose the medium rear tyre on the grid, as that turned out not to be the best option. I said sorry to the team, as it was my decision; I had felt really good on it in FP3, but when it began to rain heavily after the start, everything became very difficult and got worse and worse, as it was difficult to keep the temperature in the tyre. Anyway, now it’s time to enjoy these final moments having achieved the Triple Crown, which is something really special. The season has been very good, one of my best, without too many mistakes; today’s was probably my worst one. I’m really proud of my 2018 season, but a new one begins on Tuesday.”
Zarco seals independent rider’s title in Valencia – Syahrin wraps up rookie season with another impressive top 10
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 duo showed a solid ultimate Grand Prix of the 2018 season today in Valencia. Both, Johann Zarco and Hafizh Syahrin did brave to get through a very tricky race that was held in two parts on a soaked wet circuit.
Zarco came off the line decently from the fourth row of the grid and progressed during the first 13 laps until he reached P5. Following the interruption because of too much water on track, the French star did brave to stay upright in scorching conditions and crossed the line in seventh. With it Zarco scored 158 points overall this season to end his successful first two MotoGP years with Monster Yamaha Tech3 as the best independent rider in 2018.
On the other side, Syahrin did a great job as well. In the first part of the race he made up position by position, after finishing the first lap in 21st, he concluded the first part in P10. In the remaining 14 laps, the MotoGP newcomer was fighting the persistent rain, put his head down and reached another fantastic top 10 result to finish his first year as the second best rookie of the classification.
Position: 7th – Championship: 6th – Points: 158
“It has been a tough Sunday. We had a lot of rain in the grid and I got a good feeling on the first start. The rain was so strong and the level of the water on track was pretty complicate to control. We saw many crashes happen. I could do my laps and have a good position. After the restart the others were faster than me and I could not follow them, but the target was to finish the race, be the first independent rider, which was our main goal at the beginning of the year and I’m so happy I managed to fulfil it. It’s pretty good for me and the team, plus our history with Yamaha, because we did the last two years on a very great level. I’m really proud and happy about that situation. It was possible to fight for the top 5 in the championship, but this weekend, Alex Rins has been very fast. He rode perfectly, so congratulations to him! He deserves this position. Finally, I want to say, thank you to everybody for the two amazing years I had together with Tech3. I’m happy about the move for next year, because we will still share very good moments, even if we are not in the same garage during the race weekend.”
Position: 10th – Championship: 16th – Points: 46
“First of all, I just want to say thank you very much to my team. We didn’t expect, that we can arrive in the top 10 in wet conditions. There was a lot of drama, many riders crashed. We stopped the race and I was in P10. We believed that we can give a challenge to the other riders. For me, it was the first time, that I could do a full race in the wet, I learned many things. In the end, I’m just four points behind the best rookie, Franco Morbidelli. Congratulations to him! Anyway, I did my best. I want to thank all our sponsors, all my family and fans, that come to support me. I’m really happy to be here in MotoGP. Next week we start a new journey and I will keep on working hard. Thank you very much to everybody!”
“Finally the 2018 season is over. It was almost a season that never wanted to stop, because we thought we would have our last start in Valencia and then we had another start. So, as I was telling some of our guests, don’t complain, you have two starts for the price of one. Anyway, it’s been in a way a difficult weekend, because the weather was not what you expect for the big finale, not what you expect in sunny Valencia, but at the end of the day, it made it very exciting, very unpredictable, of course with a lot of crashes, when you have so little grip. But overall, I think it made the races maybe even more interesting and exciting than what it would have been in the dry, because you saw some strange results and a different podium. I want to say, that I am very happy and very proud that for the second year in a row Johann Zarco managed to clinch the best independent rider, sixth in the championship. I think this is quite an achievement. Today he was again the first Yamaha. I know we were not the fastest, but it was important to stay on your wheels today and finish the race and this is what Johann did. Two years ago we started the adventure with Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger and after two years with Johann we are twice best independent rider and last year’s rookie. I think we did a good job together and I’m proud of what we have done. I just want to thank Johann a lot for his two seasons with us. He has been a very professional rider, he has been fast, he has been clever and I wish him good luck for his new challenge. On the other side, Hafizh Syahrin had a tough weekend, because he almost never rode the MotoGP bike with the Michelin tyres in the wet, so it was a good weekend to learn and I think he learned a lot. His nickname is ‘Pescao’, which normally means fish and usually a fish is happy when you have a lot of water. But clearly, although tenth position is maybe not what he was dreaming of, but I think he had a solid weekend and from FP1 on Friday to today the improvement of his riding style, of the gap to the top has been unbelievable. Clearly, this guy has a very special feeling on the wet and the feeling he was having in the Moto2 is coming in the MotoGP. I’m also very glad, that he could witness how good his future bike is on the wet condition, because this is a big challenge for all of us. Hafizh is part of this challenge and from Tuesday morning we will start a new chapter of our life as a team. Before ending my quote, I would like one more time to thank Yamaha a lot from the bottom of our hearts from the whole team, our two riders: big, big thank you to everybody, Yamaha management, engineers, because all what we’ve done during these last two seasons with Johann and this year with Hafizh has been possible because of the great support we had from Yamaha. So, this is the end, again thank you very much.”
ALEIX ESPARGARÓ CRASHES IN THE POURING RAIN IN VALENCIA, OBLITERATING A WEEKEND SPENT AMONG THE PROTAGONISTS
SCOTT REDDING FINISHES IN THE POINTS WITH ELEVENTH PLACE
Aleix Espargaró crashed in the early stages of the Valencia GP, a race troubled by the rain – and decimated by the numerous crashes – which also forced officials to wave the red flag and schedule a second start for the riders who had managed to stay in the saddle.
After a weekend consistently among the best, in warm up Aleix confirmed his performance with a brilliant second place time, demonstrating his competitiveness in the wet and the progress made by the RS-GP evolution brought to the race in the final rounds of the championship. Starting from the eighth spot on the grid, Aleix maintained the position, preparing for a race which, in heavy rainfall, promised to be long and difficult. However, on the third laps, the asphalt conditions betrayed him and his race ended early in the gravel. It is an outcome that leaves a bitter taste because of a result that went up in smoke and which, given the trend throughout the weekend, would have been well within his potential.
After the interruption in the fourteenth lap due to the increasing rainfall, Scott Redding started from the ninth spot at the second start and finished eleventh.
“I am angry because today we had a great opportunity. We showed that we were strong and competitive throughout the weekend, even in the warm up session. With good sensations, a good pace, consistent and fast in the wet. With that rain, I tried to be careful in the early laps and maintain my position, anticipating a race that was sure to be very long. I had a high side on turn three, which is a bad place to crash, but the track conditions were really at the limit and visibility was practically zero. I think that the red flag should come out before the riders start crashing and that it should be used to prevent the accidents.”
“This was a rather dangerous race. At the start, I couldn’t see anything, there was so much water being kicked up by the other bikes. Only when I had some free track in front of me was I able to pick up the pace a bit. The bike was doing a lot of aquaplaning, like the others were, and the numerous crashes are a demonstration of that. I think it would have been right to stop the race earlier than it was. The conditions were truly risky. I think that my biggest limitation today was the rear tyre cooling down. I was constantly at the limit with grip, even trying to take it very easy on the throttle. After the second start, things were substantially the same for me and, considering the many riders who retired, at a certain point I was just thinking about taking home the best possible result.”
Stefan Bradl ensured the LCR Honda CASTROL Team enjoyed a fine finish to the 2018 season as he claimed a top-10 finish at the Valencia Grand Prix on Sunday. With team-mate Takaaki Nakagami ending as top independent rider in sixth, the German took ninth position after a hectic but thrilling two-part race in soaking conditions in south-east Spain.
With the initial race red-flagged at the start of lap 16 after heavy rain waterlogged the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, a second 14-lap contest was held. Bradl – who is deputising for the injured Cal Cructhlow – showed great concentration to battle through to the chequered flag inside the top 10, ahead of the likes of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
Stefan Bradl – 9th
“First of all I would like to say thank you to HRC and LCR for the support and help I have received after replacing Cal for these two races. I also wish Cal well and hope he can return next year even stronger on the bike. I enjoyed working with LCR again, there are still a lot of things I remember from the past. Today was an incredibly difficult race as you could see from the track condition, the amount of water there was incredible and there were many crashes. My confidence in the wet was not great because I don’t have any experience riding the MotoGP bike in the wet, so for this reason I needed some laps to feel good. It took a while, but in these conditions it’s easy to make mistakes and I’m happy I finished the race in ninth position. It’s ok and thanks to the team for all their efforts.”