Who will take the 2017 MotoGP crown…?
Three-time MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez looks to make it four at Valencia but can Dovizioso pull off a miracle to close the 21 point gap?
After a hugely exciting and action packed season, the 2017 MotoGP final makes its way to Circuit de Valencia where leading into the finale, title leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) are separated by only 21 points.
Circuit De Valencia hosts the final nail biting spectacle that is the 2017 MotoGP World Championship. The circuit is unique on the calendar as it is the only stadium styled venue of the year.
Tyre selection as always will be critical as Valencia’s tight configuration with nine left-hand and five right-hand turns requires special attention. The anti-clockwise, snaking design set out over 4,005m, means the tyres will spend a lot of the lap on the edge and to counter this Michelin will take a range of front and rear asymmetric slick rubber to cope with the specific demands. Michelin Power Slicks will be in soft, medium and hard compounds with a more durable left-hand side to combat the extra and faster corners which travel in that direction. The front selection will see the soft and hard compounds with the asymmetric pattern, whilst the medium will be symmetric. All three rear tyres will be asymmetric. As always tyre choice will be a key factor.
|Length||4.005 kilometres / 2.489 miles|
|Longest straight||0.876 kilometres / 0.544 miles|
|Pole Position||1m 29.401s (161.2km/h) Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha, 2016)|
|Race Lap||1m 31.171s (158.1km/h) Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha, 2016)|
|Race Time||45m 54.228s (157 km/h) Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha, 2016)|
|2016 Race Winner||Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)|
Spain has a massive motorcycle sport following and this weekends climax is expected to be huge. The prospect of a Spaniard being crowned on home turf is likely to attract up-to 150,000 fans that will fill the stands around the circuit on race-day as the season decider reaches its exciting climax. The layout allows for spectators to view the action anywhere on the track from any of the grandstands, giving the event a unique and spectacular feel and atmosphere.
The final round of the season gets underway with the regular two free practice sessions on Friday. The last Saturday of the year will have further practice sessions, allied with the excitement of qualifying to determine grid positions for Sunday’s 30-lap race. The main event gets underway at midnight (AEDT) on Sunday 12th November. Around 45-minutes later we will know who wears the crown…
On Monday Marc Marquez along with Dani Pedrosa attended the presentation of the brand new Honda models at the EICMA Show in Milan, Italy. On the same occasion they took part in the Honda 2018 racing programme presentation together with fellow HRC riders from other disciplines, before heading to Valencia for the season finale.
Despite a comfortable lead, championship leader Marc Marquez still feels a little pressure leading up to the Valencia Finale but shrugs it off as “Normal”. Here is what he had to say.
“Of course it will be natural to feel some pressure in Valencia with so much at stake, but honestly there has been pressure for the entire second part of the season. And the fact that we’ve been able to manage some tricky situations, as was the case at the last race in Malaysia, gives me a positive feeling. Regarding the track, I feel good because I like Valencia. It’s an anticlockwise circuit, which normally suits me. Of course it’s also good to have a points advantage to manage. That said, we won’t think too much about any of those things. We definitely don’t think it will be easy, so we won’t go to Valencia with any extra confidence. We’ll keep the same mentality and working method that have brought us to where we are, and we’ll give 100 per cent because it will be important to be fast beginning with FP1.”
After bouncing back from a poor result at Phillip Island, that potentially cost Andrea the chance of the championship, the Italian came back with determination and grit at Sepang taking his 6th win of the season in mixed conditions in Malaysia. Dovizioso talks frankly about the reality facing him for the Valencia MotoGP final showdown.
“We come to Valencia with a big gap in the points from Marquez and on a track where he goes very well, so we know it’s going to be tough. The only strategy for me, with this gap, is to try and win and then see where my rival finishes. In this period we are going strongly at almost every track and so we have to try and approach this weekend with optimism, as we have always done recently.”
After an excellent 2nd position at the Malaysian GP Jorge Lorenzo will looking to further capitalise on his recent form aboard his Ducati. A winner at Valencia for the past two seasons, Lorenzo will be looking for a podium position in front of the loyal home fans while no doubt at the same time supporting his teammate Dovizioso for a chance at the title.
“We have already arrived at the final race of the season, as always here at Valencia, a circuit where I have great memories and where I’ve scored some excellent results in the past, but it’s also a track which has not always been favourable for our bike. It’s a small track with very tight corners, but the world championship is still open for Andrea and nothing is impossible in this last race. It’ll be a great season finale and I’ll give my all as always, to finish my first year in Ducati with the best possible result.”
There are only three men who have overturned a deficit in the season finale. The most recent is Dovizioso’s now-teammate Jorge Lorenzo in 2015. Wayne Rainey was the first when he managed the feat in 1992. The late, great Nicky Hayden is the other man to have achieved the feat against Valentino Rossi, in the famous final race of 2006.
Dovizioso’s shot is long, and he must win the race to have a chance. If Dovizioso takes the win, Marques on the other hand has to finish 12th or below for Dovizioso to claim the title. Ducati are looking to claim their second World title after their only championship win with Casey Stoner back in 2007.
Ducati have had two MotoGP wins in Valencia: with Troy Bayliss in 2006 and Casey Stoner in 2008. This Sunday, a third win for Ducati at Valencia is a must if they would like to be crowned World Champions for the second time. If Dovozioso takes the title, he will be the oldest champion in the current MotoGP Era, and the oldest premiere class champion since Mick Doohan in 1998.
A two horse race is, of course, not the reality out on track. Marquez is gunning to be the youngest winner of six titles and the youngest winner of four in MotoGP, but there are decorated veterans for both Dovizioso and the reigning Champion to overcome. Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), their respective teammates, both have good records at Valencia.
The odds are certainly stacked against Ducati’s Doviziozo – with the results having to align in a very particular way for him to take the title from Marquez.
|Points after 17 rounds||261||282|
|DOVI wins, MM 13th or worse||286||285||Dovizioso||Wins on points|
|DOVI wins, MM 12th||286||286||Dovizioso||Wins on # of race wins|
|DOVI wins, MM 11th||286||287||Márquez||Wins on points|
|DOVI 2nd, MM DNF||281||282||Márquez||Wins on points|
|DOVI 2nd, MM scores points||281||282||Márquez||Wins on points|
Marquez isn’t the only rider that Andrea has to be concerned about this weekend, as pretty much every rider will be aiming to end their season on a high note, either looking for victory or the chance at a podium. Dani Pedrosa who is always strong on home turf will be chasing a victory himself while consequently helping is Honda team mate Marc Marquez as he looks to take points for himself and away from Dovizioso and potentially handing the championship to Marc, should MM bring it home 11th or better. Dani Pedrosa will certainly be looking to improve upon his DNF in 2016.
“We head to Valencia in a positive mood, looking to try and finish the season with a good result. I always feel a good atmosphere there, and I get a lot of good energy from the fans! We made a step with our bike setup in Malaysia and this gives us confidence for the weekend. Valencia is a track that I like a lot, I’ve been strong in the past and had good results so I hope to that the bike works well there and we can do a good race.”
Another rider who is becoming a regular on the podium and somebody that Dovizioso will have to contend with is Johan Zarco. Formally a winner here back in 2016 piloting his Ajo Motorsport Kalex Moto2 bike. Zarco will be looking to add to what has been a hugely successful rookie year in the premiere class. Despite being a rookie in the premiere class, Johan puts decorum to one side as he’s aiming for his first MotoGP win to wrap up a great debut.
Viñales arrives in his home country determined to fight for a podium spot. Having secured third place in the championship at the previous round at the Sepang International Circuit a fortnight ago, he focuses on wrapping up the season in the best way possible this weekend.
“I arrive in Valencia in a very positive mood. After the last three races in Asia and Oceania I’ve spent some time at home, training and relaxing. The Ricardo Tormo Circuit is a track that I really like, it has a lay-out that suits my riding style very well. We expect nice weather for the entire week, so I will try to push and give my 100% to finish the season with a nice podium at the last round. We are already focused on the next season and we also want to work hard during the test next week.”
After three intense race weekends overseas, Rossi enters the final round determined to keep hold of fourth place in the championship rankings. He has a 12-point advantage over his closest rival and will push to the maximum to further increase it in the 2017 Grand Finale.
Out of the 17 premier class races that the nine-time World Champion took part in at the Ricardo Tormo track so far, he has taken two MotoGP wins, in 2003 and 2004, and he stood on the podium eight times in total, having secured second places in 2002, 2009 and 2014 and third places in 2005, 2008 and 2010.
“The last race of the season has come. It wasn’t an exciting end of the season for us, but during the three races overseas we’ve got some more data for our bike and we’ve always been fine on the dry. We hope that there will be good weather in Valencia to work in the best way. We are not fighting for the championship this weekend, but we will try to make it a good race anyway, and we will try to use next week’s two-day test to start working on the 2018 season”
Andrea Iannone has not had the best of seasons thus far but a after a recent spurt of form aboard is GSX-RR, Iannone like many others will be wanting to finish the season on a high. Andrea has fond memories here when he first rode his Suzuki in pre season testing and also was a podium finisher at Valencia while with his previous team (Ducati) back in 2016.
“Valencia is a peculiar track that I can race very well when I have a good feel for the bike. My race last year was a good one. I was coming back after injury and had a positive feeling with the layout. This year I’m approaching the race in a high spirits because I still link this circuit with the first time ever that I tried the GSX-RR, and the feeling was great. Our goal is to close this season in a good way. In the last races we have had some ups and downs, but on average we have been able to make important improvements in this final stretch of the season.”
Alex Rins is looking to bounce back from his DNF at the Malaysian GP.
“This will be the last race of the season and I really want to finish with a positive result. Of course it will be emotional to ride again in Valencia because this was the circuit where I tried a MotoGP machine for the very first time. The GSX-RR was impressive. For sure things have changed a lot since the beginning; we have made many improvements throughout the season and I myself especially learned a lot. I´m approaching this weekend in a completely different mood than one year ago, as you might imagine. Another positive thing is that in the last part of the season we began a positive trend. The machine has grown and with it also my knowledge of it all. Let’s take it step by step and have a positive last race of the season.”
Aussie favourite Jack Miller and Tito Rabat head into the Grand Prix of Valencia this weekend determined to mark their last appearance for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS with a strong performance in the final race of the season.
Miller arrives in Valencia off the back of some solid performances in the two races, after missing the Japanese Grand Prix with a broken leg sustained in a training accident. The Australian is now back to full fitness and heads into the final race of the season determined to mark the end of his two-year tenure at Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS with another top ten finish.
“Finishing tenth in the championship is a big ask, but anything is possible as they say! At least the weather looks good, with the forecast promising dry conditions all weekend. I like the Valencia circuit, which is one of the few left hand circuits we race at during the season, and I’m feeling good on the bike after the flyaway races, so let’s see how we go. Obviously I want to finish out the season strong and mark my last race with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS with a good result on Sunday.”
Miller currently lies 12th in the championship standings, just two points behind Alvaro Bautista in 11th but 11 points adrift of the rider in 10th place, Jonas Folger, who will not race this weekend.
Jonas Folger will not participate in the Valencia GP as he continues to recover, and the returning WorldSBK front-runner, Michael van der Mark will replace him. The Dutch rider impressively fought to 16th at Sepang and intends to deliver another strong performance this weekend. Van De Mark is hoping for a dry race at Valencia where he can build upon his familiarity with the Tech 3 machine from what was a challenging race at Sepang.
Michael Van De Mark
“It’s a shame that Jonas cannot ride in Valencia, but I am really honoured that Hervé asked me again because I think it showed that I did quite a good job in Sepang. I have not ridden in Valencia for a long time, but hopefully, it will be a little bit easier than the race in Malaysia, now that I know the bike, the tyres and the brakes more. The most important thing is that I hope we have a normal dry weekend, where I can ride a lot of laps and improve myself together with the bike. I just want to make steps forward and close the gap to the front guys plus, just enjoy the occasion because it’s an amazing opportunity.
CLICK BELOW FOR THE 2017 MOTOGP WORLD STANDINGS.
|1.||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda Team||282|
|3.||Maverick Vinales||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||226|
|4.||Valentino Rossi||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||197|
|5.||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda Team||185|
|6.||Johann Zarco||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||154|
|8.||Danilo Petrucci||Octo Pramac Yakhnich||121|
|9.||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||104|
|10.||Jonas Folger||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||84|
|11.||Álvaro Bautista||Pull & Bear Aspar Team||75|
|12.||Jack Miller||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||73|
|13.||Scott Redding||Octo Pramac Yakhnich||64|
|14.||Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||62|
|15.||Andrea Iannone||Team Suzuki Ecstar||60|
|16.||Pol Espargaro||Red Bull KTM Motorsport||55|
|17.||Alex Rins||Team Suzuki Ecstar||46|
|18.||Loris Baz||Reale Esponsorama Racing||45|
|19.||Karel Abraham||Pull & Bear Aspar Team||30|
|20.||Esteve Rabat||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||29|
|21.||Hector Barbera||Reale Esponsorama Racing||27|
|22.||Bradley Smith||Red Bull KTM Motorsport||24|
|24.||Mika Kallio||Red Bull KTM Motorsport||11|
|25.||Sam Lowes||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||5|
|26.||Katsuyuki Nakasuga||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||4|
|27.||Sylvain Guintoli||Team Suzuki Ecstar||1|
|28.||Michael van der Mark||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||0|
|29.||Takuya Tsuda||Team Suzuki Ecstar||0|
|30.||Hiroshi Aoyama||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||0|
|31.||Broc Parkes||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||0|
|32.||Kohta Nozane||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||0|