The Unclimbed Mountain
It wouldn’t have taken much to predict what was in the mind of Andrea Dovizioso before the final round at Valencia.
“Here is a track completely unsuited to my Ducati, but entirely suited to Marquez and whatever he happens to be riding. He likes left-hand tracks and he’s won here before. I have never won here. In order for me to win the championship Marquez has to crash, which is always possible. Or I have to win and he has to come 12th. Also possible, but less likely than him crashing. I’m doomed.”
And then he would have gone to bed and slept the sleep of the righteous, because at the end of the day, he could do no more than ride as hard as he could.
Which is exactly what Dovi did, but Marquez won the championship anyway. Not a bad effort for a bloke who has crashed 27-times this season.
Dovi did not finish the race and neither did his team-mate, Jorge Lorenzo. And what happened out on track between the two of them has already been dismissed by both the riders and the team – probably in the interests of peace and harmony – and we’ll get to that in a second.
What amazed me was that Marquez should have crashed when he sailed off the track after losing the front-end, but once again, he managed to keep it upright and bring home the world championship.
Dani Pedrosa actually won the race, duking it out with a determined and blisteringly fast Johann Zarco, who looked, for most of the battle, like he would win his first MotoGP race.
But just like Dovi’s world title, that was not to be, and Zarco had to settle for second after being overwhelmed by Dani on the last lap.
Marquez managed to bring his Honda home in third, but it wouldn’t have mattered where he finished, or even if he didn’t finish. The moment Dovizioso laid his Ducati over in the gravel after running off at Turn Four five laps from the end, the championship was all over.
Still, Marquez did pass Zarco. He didn’t have to, but…well, this is Marquez, so I guess he probably did have to. But that one single decision could well have cost him the championship. As it turned out, it didn’t. And it didn’t because Marquez once again somehow managed to save a front-end lose. He deserves the title for the amount of times he’s done that this season alone.
So what happened between Dovizioso and Lorenzo?
Speculation is rife Lorenzo somehow sabotaged Dovi’s charge for the lead (and subsequent attempt at the title), by ignoring the repeated Suggest Mapping 8 instructions on his dash, and also seeming to not pay attention to his pit board, which was telling him to let Dovizioso past.
And at times, it did look like Dovi was trying to get around Jorge. Would that have made a difference to the result if he had?
It’s impossible to say. This is not a sport of ifs, but had Lorenzo let Dovi through, Dovi would then have had to catch and pass Pedrosa (a second or so in front), then deal with Zarco and Marquez, and then hope Marquez crashed, in order to secure the championship.
I don’t think that’s a mountain Andrea Dovizioso could climb – even on his best day, and he certainly wasn’t having one of those at Valencia.
I also don’t think Lorenzo was screwing with him. I think Lorenzo genuinely hoped he could tow Dovi into leadership contention – and he actually said this – and then he would have moved over and let him go.
Except Lorenzo could no more catch Pedrosa, Zarco and Marquez than his team-mate could.
And ultimately, we will never really know what was in Lorenzo’s mind, or if he would have helped Dovi, because they both DNFd and the whole argument became moot.
In spectator terms, the race was mostly processional, and apart from the few moments I have mentioned, rather undramatic. Though it was funny seeing Lorenzo’s pit crew wildly gesticulating at Ducati management after their boy repeatedly ignored the pit board telling him to go back a place.
Alex Rins impressed everyone, including himself, by piloting the Suzuki home into fourth, and while it looked for a while like Iannone was gonna make it salty at the pointy end – he did qualify in third – Valentino Rossi eventually relegated him to sixth, just ahead of Jack Miller, who hammered home in seventh after promising great things in practice and qualifying.
Miller has matured greatly this year, and I’m thinking the Octo Pramac Ducati will suit his riding style much more than the satellite Honda he was on this year. And let’s face it, it took Marc Marquez to make this year’s Honda look so good.
The factory Yamahas pretty much shamed themselves and gave both Rossi and Vinales more work than they should have had to do.
Rossi may well have made the championship more interesting had he not broken his leg, but poor old Vinales just never seemed to come back off summer holidays – and he finished 12th at Valencia.
Last year’s Yamahas were certainly working better than this year’s. Just ask Zarco.
Testing for the 2018 begins in about 36 hours.
Dovizioso’s tears will probably have dried by then, and I’m pretty sure Marquez will be well over his hangover.
MotoGP 2017 – Round 18 – Valencia – Race Results
- PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 25 Repsol Honda Team 46’08.125
- ZARCO Johann 5 FRA 20 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 0.337
- MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 16 Repsol Honda Team 10.861
- RINS Alex 42 SPA 13 Team Suzuki Ecstar 13.567
- ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 11 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 13.817
- IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 10 Team Suzuki Ecstar 14.516
- MILLER Jack 43 AUS 9 EG 0,0 Marc VDS 17.087
- CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR 8 LCR Honda 17.230
- PIRRO Michele 51 ITA 7 Ducati Test Team 25.942
- RABAT Tito 53 SPA 6 EG 0,0 Marc VDS 27.020
- SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 5 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 30.835
- VINALES Maverick 25 SPA 4 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 35.012
- PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA 3 Octo Pramac Racing 38.076
- ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE 2 Pull&Bear Aspar Team 41.988
- BARBERA Hector 8 SPA 1 Reale Avintia Racing 47.703
- BAZ Loris 76 FRA 0 Reale Avintia Racing 47.709
- VAN DER MARK Michael 60 NDL 0 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 52.134
2017 MotoGP Final World Championship Standings
- MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 298 Repsol Honda Team
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 261 Ducati Team
- VINALES Maverick 25 SPA 230 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
- PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 210 Repsol Honda Team
- ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 208 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
- ZARCO Johann 5 FRA 174 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
- LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 137 Ducati Team
- PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA 124 Octo Pramac Racing
- CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR 112 LCR Honda
- FOLGER Jonas 94 GER 84 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
- MILLER Jack 43 AUS 82 EG 0,0 Marc VDS
- BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA 75 Pull&Bear Aspar Team
- IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 70 Team Suzuki Ecstar
- REDDING Scott 45 GBR 64 Octo Pramac Racing
- ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 62 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
- RINS Alex 42 SPA 59 Team Suzuki Ecstar
- ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA 55 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
- BAZ Loris 76 FRA 45 Reale Avintia Racing
- RABAT Tito 53 SPA 35 EG 0,0 Marc VDS
- ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE 32 Pull&Bear Aspar Team
- SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 29 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
- BARBERA Hector 8 SPA 28 Reale Avintia Racing
- PIRRO Michele 51 ITA 25 Ducati Test Team
- KALLIO Mika 36 FIN 11 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
- LOWES Sam 22 GBR 5 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
- NAKASUGA Katsuyuki 21 JPN 4 Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing
- GUINTOLI Sylvain 50 FRA 1 Team Suzuki Ecstar