Jorge Lorenzo wins Valencia MotoGP Finale to become 2015 World Champion
Danny Kent, Jorge Lorenzo, and Johann Zarco: 2015 World Champions
Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo led from flag to flag to become the 2015 MotoGP World Champion in one of the most dramatic races of the year at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. In the process Lorenzo became only the third rider in the premier class to overturn a points deficit in the last GP to become champion and the first since Giacomo Agostini in 1966 to win the final race to clinch the title.
His teammate and title rival Valentino Rossi, who started from 25th on the grid after Cal Crutchlow was forced to start from the back of the grid, rode one of the races of his life to cross the line in fourth, but despite his best efforts, the ‘Doctor’ could do nothing to stop Lorenzo becoming champion in the end. Lorenzo eventually took the race win by just 0.263s from Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, with his teammate Dani Pedrosa in third after thrilling finish that could have seen a very different outcome to the title battle.
The MotoGP Grand Final certainly lived up to the hype as 110,000 fans at a sold out Comunitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo circuit bore witness to one of the most tense and thrilling conclusions to a MotoGP season ever.
When the lights went out it was pole man Lorenzo who led into the first corner, a lead he would not relinquish for the duration of the race. Immediately he set off at the front, closely followed by the two Hondas of Marquez and Pedrosa plus Andrea Iannone on the Ducati Team GP15. Rossi enjoyed an amazing start, making up 7 places off the line, and the Italian was up to 16th by after the very first corner.
Rossi was a man on a mission and while the four riders at the front started to open up a gap, he carved his way through the field. The ‘Doctor’ was into 15th by the by the end of the first lap and 12th after lap 2. He then passed Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) for 11th on the third lap, before swiftly disposing of wildcard Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) to move into 10th.
Still on lap three, Iannone lost the front at turn 12 and crashed out of the race, meaning Rossi was now into ninth and the crowd was going wild as they could not believe what they were seeing. At the front, Lorenzo was riding brilliantly, managing the gap to Marquez at around the 0.4s mark. Pedrosa had started to fall back from his teammate, but the front three had now opened up a 3.5s gap to the fourth placed Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team).
Rossi continued his charge, and by lap five he was embroiled in a battle for sixth with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro along with Danilo Petrucci on the Octo Pramac Racing Ducati. On lap six he overtook Smith for 8th, a lap later Petrucci ran wide and Rossi was up into seventh, but by this point Pol Espargaro had escaped 1.2s further up the road. Rossi set off in hot pursuit.
By lap nine he had closed down Pol Espargaro, and there was contact as he passed the Spaniard on lap 10 for sixth, but nothing was going to slow Rossi’s progress. On lap 12 Rossi made his move on Aleix Espargaro on the Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR in to turn 1, but Espargaro fought back, with Rossi having to wait until turn 5 to make it stick. Unbelievably he was now into fifth and a few corners later he took Dovizioso for fourth, but by this point he was 11 seconds behind Pedrosa in third.
It would turn out to be as good as it got for Rossi, as he didn’t have the pace to run with the front three as by this point he was lapping 0.3s slower than the men in front of him. Rossi, in fourth, needed Lorenzo to finish third if he was to become champion and only Marquez or Pedrosa could stop Lorenzo winning his fifth World Championship now.
At this point Lorenzo was still managing the gap at the front beautifully, and every time Marquez appeared to close him down, he opened up a 0.4s lead once more and the duo were starting to pull away from Pedrosa. It was not over yet though, not by a long way.
With 8 laps to go Pedrosa, in third, started to close down his teammate, reducing the gap to the second placed Marquez to under 2 seconds. Suddenly Pedrosa was the fastest rider on track by far. While Marquez put Lorenzo under constant pressure at the front, it was Pedrosa who had the momentum and amazingly with three laps to go, only half a second separated the front three.
Rossi was now 18 seconds behind the trio and hoping for a miracle. With two laps to go, Pedrosa made a move on Marquez into second, but Marquez fought back immediately. This swapping of places allowed Lorenzo to open up the tiniest of gaps at the front and as he crossed the line to start the last lap, he had a 0.347s lead over Marquez.
The tensions was unbearable, but Lorenzo kept his cool to ride smoothly through the last set of corners and despite Marquez throwing everything at him on the last lap, Lorenzo held on to take the race win by less than three-tenths of a second from Marquez. It was the 28-year-old Mallorcan’s seventh win of the season, 40th in MotoGP and 61st of his illustrious career.
It was in incredible finish to one of the most epic seasons in the history of the World Championship and it meant that Lorenzo (330pts) had overturned Rossi’s (325pts) seven-point lead to lift the title by a slender five-point margin, in the process lifting his fifth World Championship title (250cc – 2006, 250cc – 2007, MotoGP – 2010, MotoGP – 2012, MotoGP-2015).
With Marquez and Pedrosa completing the podium, Rossi crossed the line 19 seconds behind Lorenzo in fourth, and despite a simply astounding ride, Rossi will have to wait to lift that elusive tenth title.
Pol Espargaro was fifth as the leading Satellite rider, 2.8s ahead of his teammate Bradley Smith in sixth, with the British rider securing sixth in the championship standings in the process and the honour of top Satellite rider in 2015.
Dovizioso finished in seventh as the leading Ducati, ahead of Aleix Espargaro in eight. LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow was forced to start from the back of the grid after experiencing issues with his bike before the race started. The British rider pulled off a great race to ride form 26th through to 9th, with Petrucci completing the top ten.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS Scott Redding took the last points scoring spot in 15th, with Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera in 16th as the leading Open Class rider, with the Spaniard securing the Open title in the process as his rival Loris Baz (Forward Racing) could only finish in 19th.
Nicky Hayden (Aspar MotoGP Team) bowed out of the MotoGP class by finishing as the leading Open Honda in 17th with Australian Jack Miller (LCR Honda) crossing the line in 21st. There were DNF’s for Broc Parkes, Mike De Meglio and Eugene Laverty.
The riders and team return to the Valencia track on Tuesday & Wednesday to kick off the 2016 season with the first official test.
MotoGP Race Classification
Rabat bows out of Moto2 with victory
The 2014 Moto2 World Champion Tito Rabat rode an imperious race at the Gran Premio Motul de le Comunitat Valenciana to secure his 13th career intermediate class victory. It was a fitting way for the most successful Moto2 rider in the history of the class to bid farewell before he moves up to MotoGP in 2016.
The original race had to red-flagged after a multiple rider crash at the first corner that saw Morbidelli, Syahrin, Schrotter, Folger, Simeon, Mulhauser, Fuligni and Vierge all crash. Luckily most were unhurt, but Syahrin and Morbidelli were taken to the Medical Centre for further treatment.
The restarted race was reduced to 18 laps, and saw Rabat enjoy a race long duel with his compatriot Alex Rins on the Paginas Amarillas HP40’s Kalex, eventually beating him to the line by just 0.309s. It capped a remarkable comeback from the broken radius that forced Rabat to miss the flyway rounds, and sent the sold out Comunitat Valencian – Ricardo Tormo circuit in raptures as the local hero pulled off the win.
Moto2 rookie of the year Rins (234pts) secured his tenth podium of the season to ensure that, although he lost out to Rabat (231pts) in the race, he won the battle for second in the championship standings with his fellow Spaniard by 3 points.
Derendinger Racing Interwetten’s Thomas Luthi made it back-to-back podiums as he crossed the line in 3rd, just over 3 seconds further back from Rins, in the process securing 5th in the championship.
Forward Racing’s Lorenzo Baldassari was fourth; as the 19-year-old Italian ended the season in style with three top five finishes in the last three races. Speed Up Racing’s Sam Lowes rode superbly to go from 10th on the grid to fifth, meaning he finished the season in fourth in the standings with 186 points.
Paginas Amarillas HP40’s Luis Salom made it three sixth-placed finishes in a row, ahead of the 2015 Moto2 World Champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) in seventh. Zarco debuted the 2016 Kalex frame in the race, and while he missed out on a new podium record, he finished the season with 352 points, a new record in the intermediate class.
Simone Corsi (Forward Racing) and Mika Kallio (QMMF Racing Team) completed the top ten, with Kallio also bidding farewell to the class after announcing he will be the test rider for KTM on their MotoGP project in 2016.
Moto2 Race Classification
Oliveira wins race but Kent takes Moto3 title
Leopard Racing’s Danny Kent became the first British World Champion since Barry Sheene in the 500cc class in 1977 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. Kent’s only title rival, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira, knew that he had to win and Kent finish 15th or lower to deny the Brit the title and he did his part by taking the race victory, but was denied the championship by Kent’s mature performance.
Starting from fourth, Oliveira took the lead at the very first corner and rode superbly in the leading pack to control the race and win by 0.198s from Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Jorge Navarro after Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) crashed at the last corner, taking out podium challengers Efren Vazquez (Leopard Racing) and Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) in the process.
The left Drive M7 SIC’s Jakub Kornfeil to complete the podium, but Sunday belonged to Kent as he finished in ninth to secure the title at his fourth attempt. The British rider had to start from 18th on the grid, but by the end of lap 1 he was already in 15th. Slowly but surely he made his way through the field up to 11th, before being embroiled in a battle with his teammate Hiroki Ono over the last couple of laps. Kent dropped down to 12th on the last lap as Ono made his move, but with the three riders falling ahead of him on that last corner; it meant Kent finished in ninth, secured 7 points and ended the 38 year wait for a British World Champion. That meant Kent (260pts) secured the title from Oliveira (254pts) by six points to become the first British lightweight champion since Dave Simmonds in 1969.
It was Navarro’s fourth podium in the last five races, as the Spaniard took seventh in the standings at the expense of the unlucky Vazquez. Kornfeil returned to the podium for only the second time in his career, after his second placed finish at Silverstone earlier in the year.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder crossed the line in 4th after starting from 9th and working his way through the pack during the race, ahead of Enea Bastianini on the Gresini Racing Team Moto3 Honda in fifth.
RBA Racing Team’s Isaac Viñales recorded his 11th top ten finish of the season in sixth, in front of pole man John McPhee (SAXOPRINT RTG) who faded during the race to finish in seventh.
Kent’s teammate Ono beat him to the line to secure eighth, with Kent ninth and Phillip Oettl (Schedl GP Racing) completing the top ten.
Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) crashed out on lap 11 at the Mick Doohan corner and was taken to the Medical Centre for checks after feeling dizzy. There were also DNF’s for Alessandro Tonucci, Juanfran Guevara, Tatsuki Suzuki and Remy Gardner while Fabio Quartararo was forced to retire on his return from injury.
Remy Gardner (DNF) : “I didn’t expect to end the season in this way, but now there is nothing to do. I started well and tried to get a good pace to overtake as much riders as possible. The initial lap times were good but race has finished for me after the fifth lap. It’s a shame because except the qualifying practice result, everything was working well here”.