The Final Curtain

Heaven itself was crying at the final round of the 2018 MotoGP season. Valencia was awash with water – much of it falling from the skies but there was certainly some sobbing emanating from the teams.

But I’ll get to that.

MotoGP Valencia Michelin
Valencia MotoGP – Michelin technician

So rain everywhere – Practice, Qualifying, and during the race. It didn’t stop Petrucci’s bike from catching fire, but it might have helped with the dousing.

Marquez managed to once again dislocate his shoulder in Q2, and was in visible pain as he staggered towards the tyre wall. He was rushed into his motorhome, injected with cobra venom, and on his first flying lap a few minutes later was in third place. He was ultimately nudged back into fifth, but this kind of carry-on only reinforces my view he is somewhat other than human. I dislocated my shoulder once. I cried on the couch for a fortnight. Try it for yourself. See how you go.

MotoGP Valencia Marquez GP AN Cover
Marc Marquez – AJRN Image

I understand he’s going to have surgery for this issue in the off-season, and this may have some kind of negative impact on his testing. Or it would in a normal racer. Marquez might just not test anything, recover from surgery, and come back even faster next year.

Lorenzo must have been slamming award-winning pain-killers the whole weekend. Clearly unable to ride fast due to his still sore arm – and he is no fan of the rain, anyway – the Mallorcan understood he had a very important test two days after the race, so he was very much in cruise-mode.

MotoGP Valencia Lorenzo GP AN
Jorge Lorenzo – AJRN Image

It was Rossi’s 383rd race, and after he gutted me and the rest of his fans when he binned it in Sepang after leading for almost the entire race, we were all hoping the Doctor would find redemption.

MotoGP Valencia Rossi GP AN
Valentino Rossi – AJRN Image

Lots of people crashed during Practice and Qualifying, and even more found the gravel during Sunday’s two-race rain-a-paloooza. Miller ate dirt five times – a feat only Crutchlow might have bettered, but Cal’s last effort has him sidelined until next season. Simeon brained himself so hard he looked like one of the Walking Dead for a few seconds, lurching around the gravel trap, and subsequently choosing not to play any more.

Of course, the championship is over, and interest has waned a little out here in the real world. Third place was still up for grabs between Rossi and his team-mate Vinales, so there would be some action there.

MotoGP Valencia Vinales GP AN
Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales – AJRN Image

Racers are racers – and these are the best in the world – and they will race no matter what.

MotoGP Valencia Alvaro Bautista GP AN
Alvaro Bautista – AJRN Image

They may dye their hair funny colours (I’m looking at you, Alvaro), decide to change their numbers (Maverick will be Number 12 next year instead of 25), have a shave (as if anyone noticed, Danilo), or even maybe let KTM have its first ever podium (a bravura performance from the good-looking Asparagus) – but the nature of the beast dictates they will race.

And so they did.

But they did it in two parts. The first part was 13 laps. Then the race was red-flagged because it was deemed by Race Direction to be too wet – and Dovizioso, who was leading, but had just been passed by Rossi and was forced to pass him back, had his hand in the air so fast it looked like the French surrendering in WW2.

MotoGP Valencia GPstart GP AN
Valencia MotoGP 2018 – AJRN Image

Rins, who had found himself in second on the grid, bracketed by Vinales on pole and Dovi in third, speared off from the start and left the field drinking his spray. It was a marvellous performance. Rossi, who had found himself starting in 16th, was in eighth place by the end of the first lap and coming hard. Marquez had ridden into Petrucci at the start, but since Race Direction was blinded by the spray, no action was taken.

MotoGP Valencia GPstart GP AN
Valencia MotoGP 2018 – AJRN Image

Pol very soon found himself in third, drifted back to the rear of the field after being tortured by Marquez and benefited greatly from the re-start. His brother, Aleix crashed.

Vinales spent the first part of the race travelling backwards, while Rins increased his lead to more than three-and-a-half seconds.

MotoGP Valencia Rins GP AN
Alex Rins – Valencia MotoGP 2018 – AJRN Image

Jack Miller crashed shortly after Rossi rounded up his reversing Yamaha team-mate, and Lap Five saw Rins leading four seconds ahead of Dovisoso.

Petrucci and Pirro crashed. Luthi crashed. Pol Espargaro crashed (but remounted) and then Marquez crashed.

Rossi was now in third, Rins was become damper than a flooded house (he was now riding three seconds slower than the blokes chasing him) and Dovizioso had closed right up on him, with Rossi on his back wheel in turn.

MotoGP Valencia Dovi GP AN
Valencia MotoGP 2018 – AJRN Image

Iannone crashed.

It was raining carbon-fibre and water with a vengeance at Valencia.

A remounted Pol Espergaro was now closing in on Lorenzo, who had not crashed, but was doubtlessly counting the minutes until this season was over.

Vinales crashed, handing Rossi third place in the championship. Morbidelli crashed, just as Rossi and Dovi caught and passed Rins.

MotoGP Valencia Michelin Dovizioso Rossi Rins
Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi, Alex Rins

Smith crashed.

MotoGP Valencia Smith GP AN
Bradley Smith – AJRN Image

Then, just as Rossi and Dovizioso started to see who was the mightiest fish in the ocean, the race was red-flagged, and re-started according to where everyone was the lap before.

MotoGP Valencia Michelin Dovizioso Rins Rossi
Valentino Rossi alongside Andrea Dovizioso and Alex Rins

Let’s go again

So Rins on pole, Dovi in second and Rossi in third. The retiring Pedrosa found himself in fourth, followed by Zarco, Nakagami, and Bautista.

The field was down to 15 riders, but while the rain had slowed, it had not stopped. And the smart money knew 15 riders would not be finishing.

With fresh tyres, Rins pounded off again, but Dovizioso soon reeled him in down the straights with his Ducati. Rossi pursued relentlessly, and my heart was full of hope. Maybe the old bloke could produce a win at the death of the season.

MotoGP Valencia Dovi GP AN
Valencia MotoGP 2018 – AJRN Image

But it was not to be. Bautista crashed and then Rossi went down and I was tempted to turn off the TV and go to bed. It was late, but then I would have missed out on an ecstatic third-place Pol Espargaro including the F-word several times in his post-race interview with Simon Crafar. That was worth staying up for. It was KTM’s first-ever MotoGP podium and no-one could blame Pol for being salty after the race.

MotoGP Valencia EspP GP AN
Pol Espargaro – Valencia MotoGP 2018 – AJRN Image

Rins had held on for second and Pirro, Ducati test-rider and the bloke you call an hour before the race if your rider cannot race, came a creditable fourth. Dani was fifth – the hope that he might have found a podium in his last MotoGP race dashed forever.

MotoGP Valencia Rins GP AN
Alex Rins – Valencia MotoGP 2018 – AJRN Image

Lorenzo ended the day in 12th, having been bested by Scott Redding, and barely ahead of a remounted Rossi.

And so the curtain came down on another stunning MotoGP season. It truly deserves the moniker of “circus” because it is certainly that, as well as having the elements of a soap opera, and a Greek tragedy, and is fuelled by bravery and commitment beyond the imaginings of normal humans.

Long may it continue.

spain
MotoGP Results
Circuit Ricardo Tormo, 27 laps, 108.1 km (1 lap: 4.005 km)
PosRiderTeamTime
1.Dovizioso A.Ducati TeamWin
2.Rins A.Team Suzuki Ecstar+2.750
3.Espargaro P.Red Bull KTM Factory Racing+7.406
4.Pirro M.Ducati Team+8.647
5.Pedrosa D.Repsol Honda+13.351
6.Nakagami T.LCR Honda+32.288
7.Zarco J.Monster Tech 3+32.806
8.Smith B.Red Bull KTM Factory Racing+33.111
9.Bradl S.LCR Honda+36.376
10.Syahrin H.Monster Tech 3+37.198
11.Redding S.Aprilia Racing Team Gresini+44.326
12.Lorenzo J.Ducati Team+46.146
13.Rossi V.Movistar Yamaha+52.809
14.Abraham K.Angel Nieto Team+1:10.628
15.Torres J.Reale Avintia Racing+1:16.739
DNFBautista A.Angel Nieto TeamAccident
DNFVinales M.Movistar YamahaAccident
DNFMorbidelli F.Marc VDS Racing TeamAccident
DNFIannone A.Team Suzuki EcstarAccident
DNFMarquez M.Repsol HondaAccident
DNFPetrucci D.Alma Pramac RacingAccident
DNFLuthi T.Marc VDS Racing TeamAccident
DNFMiller J.Alma Pramac RacingAccident
DNFEspargaro A.Aprilia Racing Team GresiniAccident
MotoGP Valencia Michelin Podium Dovizioso Rins Espargaro
MotoGP Race Results
1 – Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) DUCATI 24’03.408
2 – Alex Rins (SPA) SUZUKI +2.750
3 – Pol Espargaro (SPA) KTM +7.406
2018 MotoGP CHampionship Standings
Pos.RiderBikeNationPoints
1Marc MARQUEZHondaSPA321
2Andrea DOVIZIOSODucatiITA245
3Valentino ROSSIYamahaITA198
4Maverick VIÑALESYamahaSPA193
5Alex RINSSuzukiSPA169
6Johann ZARCOYamahaFRA158
7Cal CRUTCHLOWHondaGBR148
8Danilo PETRUCCIDucatiITA144
9Jorge LORENZODucatiSPA134
10Andrea IANNONESuzukiITA133
11Dani PEDROSAHondaSPA117
12Alvaro BAUTISTADucatiSPA105
13Jack MILLERDucatiAUS91
14Pol ESPARGAROKTMSPA51
15Franco MORBIDELLIHondaITA50
16Hafizh SYAHRINYamahaMAL46
17Aleix ESPARGAROApriliaSPA44
18Bradley SMITHKTMGBR38
19Tito RABATDucatiSPA35
20Takaaki NAKAGAMIHondaJPN33
21Scott REDDINGApriliaGBR20
22Michele PIRRODucatiITA14
23Karel ABRAHAMDucatiCZE12
24Stefan BRADLHondaGER10
25Mika KALLIOKTMFIN6
26Katsuyuki NAKASUGAYamahaJPN2
27Xavier SIMEONDucatiBEL1
28Jordi TORRESDucatiSPA1
MotoGP Valencia Champions Marquez Bagnaia Martin Moto Moto
Valencia MotoGP 2018 – AJRN Image
MotoGP Team Standings
PosTeamPoints
1.Repsol Honda Team438
2.Ducati Team392
3.Movistar Yamaha MotoGP391
4.Suzuki MotoGP302
5.Alma Pramac Racing235
6.Monster Yamaha Tech 3204
7.LCR Honda191
8.Angel Nieto Team104
9.Red Bull KTM Factory Racing89
10.Aprilia Racing Team Gresini64
11.Estrella Galicia 0,050
12.Reale Avintia Racing37
MotoGP Valencia season Champions Marquez Bagnaia Martin Moto Moto
Valencia MotoGP 2018 – AJRN Image
Constructors Championship Standings
Pos.TeamPoints
1Honda375
2Ducati335
3Yamaha281
4Suzuki233
5Ktm72
6Aprilia59
MotoGP Valencia Zarco GP AN
Valencia MotoGP 2018 – AJRN Image

 

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