Valencia GP – Cheste, Weekend preview: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Following Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo’s World Championship triumph at the last round in Australia, racing honours are the only thing at stake as the MotoGP™ contingent heads into its final round at the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valencia this weekend.
Three riders in particular will be desperate to end the season with a win. Lorenzo will be hoping to end his second title-winning season in style in front of his home fans, yet will face a tremendous test from the Repsol Honda Team duo. For Casey Stoner this will be his last ever GP before he heads into retirement, and the hard charging Australian will want to sign off with a win. And if his dominant form in Phillip Island is anything to go by, he will undoubtedly head into the race as one of the favourites. Yet his teammate Dani Pedrosa could prove an equally tough challenger, wishing to make up for his costly error last time out in Phillip Island. He may have lost the chance of fighting for a title, yet will be sure to take the challenge to Lorenzo and Stoner, as the three “aliens” go head to head for the last ever time in MotoGP.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso has third place out of reach in the table as Valencia awaits, yet has fourth place securely tied up. This lends to a significantly different race approach to his teammate Cal Crutchlow, who still stands a mathematical chance of taking fifth in the championship. The Brit comes fresh off a fantastic performance in Phillip Island, which saw him take his second ever GP podium, and he will no doubt be looking for a repeat in Spain. In his way is first and foremost San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, who has had an upturn in form in the latter part of the season, and will have the added benefit of his home support. He will however be well aware of his first corner incident from last year, which took out three other bikes, so might air on the cautious side in the first few laps.
Involved in the hunt for fifth and also in last year’s crash is Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi. For him it will be his last ever weekend on the Desmosedici, and the Italian has stated he will continue putting in his best until the end to achieve a better result, and try to end the season in fifth. His teammate Nicky Hayden, who was in fact injured in last year’s Valencia crash, will aim to finish the race strongly, and head into the off season test period injury free. Mixing it up with factory bikes will be LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl once more, who also comes off the back of a strong outing in Phillip Island. The German will be crowned Rookie of the Year this weekend, and will hope do so in conjunction with a good result. Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham and Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá will conclude a difficult and injury hit year on their satellite Ducatis in Valencia as well, and will hope for a top ten result to end on a positive.
The CRT field rounds off its inaugural year with Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró currently favourite to be crowned “champion” in the new category. His teammate Randy de Puniet would have to overturn a difficult 11 point deficit to take top honours, yet will no doubt be giving it his all as usual. Lining up alongside them will be NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci, Speed Master’s Roberto Rolfo, San Carlo’s Michele Pirro, Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison and Avintia Blusens’ Iván Silva.
There will be two replacement riders in Valencia, with Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga substituting for the injured Ben Spies, and past-GP rider Hiroshi Aoyama making a return in place of the injured Yonny Hernandez in the Avintia team. Nakasuga was only recently crowned All Japan Superbike Champion, and will be hoping to make a strong impact in the ultimate GP race in Spain.
Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez returns home a champion to contest the final Moto2™ race of the season at the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valencia, where he and rival, Tuenti Movil HP 40’s Pol Espargaró, will be racing “for fun” with both Spaniards having locked out the top two places in the championship.
Whilst the promise of another Márquez vs. Espargaró battle will have crowds and fans salivating already, there will be another tussle that could prove to be quite the contest. Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone now only holds an 11-point lead in third place in the table over Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Lüthi. Both suffered misfortunes at the last race in Phillip Island, with Iannone’s engine giving up and Lüthi suffering a crash due to issues with the rear tyre. And while such a points deficit could prove difficult to overturn, with the unpredictable nature of Moto2, as well as Iannone’s seemingly off-colour form of late, Lüthi will no doubt be giving his all to finish third.
Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding has an outside chance of making it into fourth, yet is already guaranteed at least fifth, with his nearest challenger and teammate Mika Kallio too far off. Kallio, who was taken out of the last race, will hope for some better fortune this time around, as he still faces a challenge from Tech 3 Racing’s Bradley Smith, and Espargaró’s teammate Esteve Rabat. JiR Moto2’s Johann Zarco will be one to watch as he achieved the Moto2 Rookie of the Year honour in Phillip Island, yet has not managed to score a podium this season. He will be hoping to put in his best performance yet and make it onto the rostrum before the season is out.
Not lining up in Valencia will be QMMF Racing’s Anthony West, who has been banned by the FIM for one month, after failing an anti-doping test in Le Mans earlier this year for Methylhexaneamine. He will be substituted by Indonesian rider Topan Sucipto. There will also be a wild-card lining up in the shape of TSR Galicia School’s Dani Rivas.
This weekend’s Moto3™ race at the Generali de la Comunitat Valencia will see an epic battle of the Spaniards as RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom and Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales fight it out for the runner-up spot in the championship.
Both lost their chance in Phillip Island to extend or cut each other’s lead significantly, as Salom was penalised with a ride-through for a jump-start, and Viñales crashed out towards the end. Salom is in the strongest position heading into the Valencia race with a nine-point lead over Viñales, however the Blusens rider was victorious at the track last year, and will no doubt be hoping he can muster up some of that magic once again.
Behind the battling duo will be another fierce encounter with Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins and Team Italia FMI’s Romano Fenati involved in a tussle for Rookie of the Year. Rins currently holds the upper hand with a five-point lead over the Italian, as well as a home advantage. Fenati however, has proven to be a race winner in Spain earlier in the year, and will not rule himself out of contention just yet.
Sixth place in the table looks set to go to Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Danny Kent, who like his Moto3 World Champion teammate Sandro Cortese, will just be out for the win, without worrying about any competitors. Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Miguel Oliveira could throw a spanner in the works with all of the above, after the Portuguese rider took his best ever result last time out in second. A repeat performance will undoubtedly be on his mind, yet he will also have to hold of Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger and AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin.
Mahindra Racing’s Riccardo Moretti is out with injury and will be replaced once more by Czech rider Miroslav Popov. There will also be two wildcards in the form of Wild Wolf BST’s Juan Guevara and HP Moto Kalex’s Philipp Oettl.