Dramatic final race of the year at Valencia.
The MotoGP teams and riders head back to Europe to Spain, Valencia for the final race of this exciting season.
It is the last chance for Andrea Dovizioso to try and win the championship. Marc Márquez already has one hand on the title thanks to a 21-point lead over Andrea Dovizioso. Dovi has to win and Marquez finish 12th or lower to win the title.
Dovizioso's 2017 championship challenge has been the surprise of the season, the Italian enjoying his best ever MotoGP season. He and Marquez have six wins each and Andrea has out classed his new team-mate and triple world champion Jorge Lorenzo. Surprisingly the factory Yamaha team struggled towards the end of the season after a strong start.
The action started on Friday with the free practices. The weather was good. Fastest in FP 1 was a surprising Andrea Iannone on the factory Suzuki, 2nd Jack Miller, 3rd Pol Espargaró 4th Andrea Dovizioso in front of 5th Marc Márquez.
In FP2 it was Jorge Lorenzo who topped the time sheets. Followed by Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso, Johann Zarco and Marc Márquez.
So on to Saturday and qualifying.
Fastest in FP3 was Marc Márquez on the Factory Repsol Honda Team, next Johann Zarco on the satellite Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, 3rd Andrea Iannone, 4th Jorge Lorenzo and ever improving rookie, Álex Rins on the other factory Suzuki.
Qualifying 1 saw Pol Espargaró on the ever improving Factory KTM and his brother Aleix Espargaró on the Factory Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, both promoted to qualifying 2. Maverick Viñales continues to struggle with his Factory Yamaha and will start the race 13th on the grid.
Dramatic Qualifying 2 session saw Dani Pedrosa go fastest at first, with Johann Zarco hot on his heels. Then Jorge Lorenzo went quicker, with minutes to go. Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone momentarily went top before Johann Zarco put in a stunning lap. Again he thought he’d got pole until the last seconds when Marc Márquez took pole by just .349 of a second!
GRAN PREMIO MOTUL DE LA COMUNITAT VALENCIAMotoGP Qualifying 2
A Drama filled final race of the year.
Dovizioso had to win the race to have any chance of beating Marquez to the crown. Dovizioso needed to win the race, with Marquez finishing lower than 11th, to win the title. Dovizioso needed a minor miracle as he trailed the Repsol Honda rider by 21 points going into the final race, but he refused to throw in the towel.
In a drama filled race at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, the riders lined up on the grid, on came the red lights, and out they went, the race was on!
Starting from 9th on the grid Andrea Dovizioso quickly moved up to fifth, behind Factory Ducati team mate, Jorge Lorenzo. Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man, as Johann Zarco chased after early leader Marquez and Pedrosa.
Factory Hondas Marc Márquez took the lead from pole position, with Pedrosa slotting into second place, he was protecting Marquez from the rest of the field, but they were soon caught by Frenchman Johann Zarco.
Zarco got by Pedrosa and set off after Marquez. After exchanging a couple of passes Marquez decided to move aside, on the run to Turn 6, rather than risking anything.
In the early stages of the race, with what seemed like Dovizioso being held up by Lorenzo, Ducati issued several 'Mapping 8' messages to Lorenzo, like they did in Sepang, and then a '-1' on his pit board, indicating for him to let Dovi by, but he didn’t let Dovi pass, much to Ducati's frustration.
Marc Márquez had a battle with Zarco, with eight laps to go into the final corner to take the lead, he decided to push for the win, but as began he the lap, he almost crashed and made another amazing save going into Turn 1.
Marquez managed to push his Honda RC213V back upright and went through the gravel, and returning back in fifth spot.
Then more drama as moments later, Jorge Lorenzo pushing to catch the leaders, he crashed out on turn 5, promoting Dovizioso to third, only a few yards behind the Zarco/Pedrosa lead scrap.
Dovizioso saw his chance and pushed over the limit, he went wide on the brakes at Turn 8 and went into the gravel trap, before dropping his Ducati, ending his title hopes, and handing it to Marquez.
Dovizioso returned to the pits, where his pit crew applauded his efforts with a rousting cheer.
Marquez’s off track excursion, and the demise of the two Ducati men, set up for a battle royale between Zarco and Pedrosa for the victory, with the clever Repsol Honda rider waiting and making his move on the final lap.
Dani Pedrosa managed to keep Zarco behind him to end his season with victory, while Marquez was moved up to third taking his fourth MotoGP title with a podium finish. It was Marquez who was crowned 2017 World champion, as he came home in third position, behind team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Johann Zarco, as Factory Ducati team mates, Dovizioso and Lorenzo both crashed out in the closing stages of the race.
Factory Suzuki's Álex Rins got his career best finish in fourth as he beat struggling Valentino Rossi to the flag by three-tenths of a second, and his team mate, Andrea Iannone took sixth.
Australian Jack Miller finished seventh, ahead of Britain’s LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow, while Ducati test rider, Michele Pirro was the only Factory Ducati rider to finish, beating Tito Rabat to ninth spot.
Britain’s Bradley Smith took 11th position for KTM, while Maverick Viñales finished off a miserable weekend in 12th place, 35 seconds behind victor Pedrosa, as the winner of the opening two races concluded his season in a dismal way.
Pramac's Danilo Petrucci took 13th place, as Karel Abraham and Hector Barbera rounded out the points positions, the latter edging team-mate Loris Baz to the line by just 0.006s. Michael Van der Mark was the final classified finisher as he took 17th place.
Pol Espargaró crashed out of contention at the same time as Dovizioso, while Sam Lowes, Scott Redding, Aleix Espargaró, Mika Kallio and Álvaro Bautista (twice) all crashed out.
GRAN PREMIO MOTUL DE LA COMUNITAT VALENCIAMotoGP Race Result
Final MotoGP World Standings 2017
Qualifying, Race Result and Championship tables, courtesy of the official MotoGP website: www.motogp.com
That evening the FIM and Dorna, (MotoGP organisers) hosted the MotoGP awards ceremony dinner. With all the riders and teams in attendance. Marc Márquez received his World Championship trophy.
So that wraps up an excellent MotoGP season, full of close racing, at times fairing bashing, lots of crashes and lots of drama. Now it’s preparations for the 2018 season, with testing of the riders new machines. Several riders swapping teams, plus new riders moving up from Moto2.
- Roland Potter