MotoGP 2019 season finale
The Final Curtain
And so ends the 2019 MotoGP season. Not with a bang, but with a whole bunch of whimpering from a field totally decimated by the World Champion, Marc Marquez.
He won again, racking up a record-setting 420 championship points, as well as securing the triple-crown of championships, virtually single-handedly – the World Championship (him), the Constructor’s Championship (Honda, but only due to him), and the Teams Championship (pretty much all him again).
This time, on the cold and windy Valencia circuit, he let Fabulous have a taste of the front, before passing him on lap six and…well, just doing what he has done all season. At least Marquez tore out Quartaroro’s heart early in the piece, rather than bitching him on the last lap as he’d done in the past.
So kudos to him, I guess.
The weekend was, of course, dominated by Lorenzo’s announcement of his retirement. The broken spine, the difficult Honda, his age, and the realisation that in order to spend all the money he has it’s probably wise to get while the getting is good, and the Mamba called it quits.
This, of course, set off a flurry of speculation about who would take his place. Zarco, Crutchlow, Nakagami and even Miller were all alleged considerations – but when King Marquez declared he would approve of his brother, Alex, to partner him next year (no pressure, HRC, right?), Honda immediately announced that to be the way forward. Of course, Marquez denies pressuring HRC.
But keen observers will note several things: Alex Marquez took his sweet time winning the Moto2 championship, and only scraped in by three-points ahead of the brilliant Brad Binder, whose machinery wasn’t up to scratch early in the season.
Japan cannot print enough Yen to keep Marc Marquez in the HRC saddle if he decides he wants to try his hand elsewhere. So Honda will give him anything he asks for.
Alberto Puig is being entirely disingenuous when he whines about how Alex is the right choice for HRC because he won a title.
Time, will of course tell if the younger Marquez will be a help, a hindrance, or an actual challenger for his amazing brother. Personally, I think he’s going to be shit, but I have been wrong before.
Now then, about the race.
It was a little underwhelming in terms of racing spectacle.
Marquez quickly fought his way to the front after being swamped at the start. He qualified second, behind Fabulous and ahead of Miller, but maybe he was just giving himself something to overtake in the last round.
Miller rode well, and ended up the bottom step of the podium, while Fabulous assumed his now usual position of second.
There were a heap of non-finishers. The field was exhausted and bruised, the track was cold, and everyone was probably not on their absolute A-game.
Iannone went first, then Morbidelli, then Petrucci, then Zarco. And then, the impressive new kid, Iker Lecuona, competing in his first MotoGP race, threw his bike into Zarco as the Frenchman was walking towards his crashed bike in the gravel trap.
As many have observed, it was the first somersault Zarco got to do in ages. How his legs were not smashed by Iker’s hurtling KTM which nailed him in the calves, can only be down to angles. It hit him directly from behind and flipped him. Had it hit him side-on or front-on, Zarco would be joining Lorenzo in the Not-Playing Anymore Club. As it is, the Frenchman’s racing future is uncertain, though it’s likely he will return to Moto2.
Cal Crutchlow also retired into the gravel, which surprised no-one, including themselves.
As it was, the field came home well spaced out – both physically and in spiritual terms. It has been a long and discouraging season for all of them, bar Marquez.
Dovi idled home in fourth some three seconds adrift of the front, with only Rins behind him showing any aggression.
Vinales, who showed some pace during practice and had been talking himself up all weekend, bumbled home eight seconds shy of the front. Two seconds behind him came Mir, and then 12 seconds behind Mir, Rossi.
For a brief instant, Rossi showed some pace during practice and was the fastest rider on the track. Then on race day, nothing. He qualified 12th and ended up in eighth with a quarter of the field in the gravel.
Lorenzo came home in 13th, 51-seconds behind Marquez. But for the first time in ages, he looked rather relaxed.
I felt Marquez might have done a kindness to his team-mate and maybe ridden a lap with him, held his arm up to the cheering Spanish crowd…something to respectfully signify the retirement of one of the greatest riders MotoGP has ever seen.
Instead, Marquez celebrated by himself, while a few metres away, Lorenzo planted the last Lorenzo Land flag he will ever plant and waved to the fans.
Still, if the riders weren’t all insane self-centred egotists, they couldn’t do what they do as well as they do it. It just struck me as a bit of a PR blunder when it could have been a PR masterstroke for Marquez.
All up, an amazing year for an amazing rider, and a brutal, ego-crushing exercise for the rest of them.
It will be very interesting to see what the impending tests will reveal, and 2020 will be astonishing. Everyone’s contract is up for grabs. Lots of exciting new blood on the grid, and some quite determined old blood, as well.
Will 2020 be another year of Marquez dominance? I actually don’t think so.
Valencia MotoGP Results / Standings
|DNF||Andrea IANNONE||Aprilia||1 Lap|
|DNF||Franco MORBIDELLI||Yamaha||9 Laps|
|DNF||Danilo PETRUCCI||Ducati||14 Laps|
|DNF||Johann ZARCO||Honda||14 Laps|
|DNF||Iker LECUONA||KTM||14 Laps|
|DNF||Cal CRUTCHLOW||Honda||17 Laps|
|DNF||Michele PIRRO||Ducati||19 Laps|