Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana: Preview – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
In the 67-year history of the World Championships there have only been 16 previous occasions where the premier-class title has been decided at the final round of the season. The seven-point advantage Valentino Rossi (312 pts) holds over Jorge Lorenzo (305pts) is the smallest margin between the top two riders when arriving at the final round of the season ever since 1992.
The Comunitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo circuit has played host to an end of season title showdown twice in the past, ever since it became the last round of the season in 2002. In 2006 when Rossi lost out to Nicky Hayden and in 2013 when Marc Marquez lifted the title in his rookie year after a season-long duel with Lorenzo. Surely though, as exciting as they were, not even those can quite match the drama and tension of what has been one of the greatest seasons in the history of the World Championship as it heads to its climax.
Last time out the Malaysian GP saw Jorge Lorenzo cross the line in second, ahead of his rival Rossi in third, to reduce the Italian’s lead from 11 to just seven points with 25 up for grabs in Valencia. However, the nine-time World Champion Rossi received a three-point penalty from Race Direction for his part in the #SepangClash with Marc Marquez. When added to the point he was given for riding slowly on the racing in Qualifying at Misano, it means he will be forced to start from the back of the grid. Rossi has appealed the penalty with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with a decision expected by Friday 6th of November.
In last year’s Valencia GP, the already crowned champion Marc Marquez, stormed to victory ahead of Rossi who had started from pole, with Dani Pedrosa completing the podium. Lorenzo was forced to retire after taking a gamble and pitting to switch to wets after a brief rain shower. The gamble backfired however, as the heavy rain never came and the Spaniard chewed through his tyres, ending his race prematurely.
Rossi has competed at every Valencia GP since its introduction in 1999 and finished on the podium in eight out of 16 attempts, but has only tasted victory twice at the circuit, with the Italian taking back-to-back wins in 2003 and 2004. His second placed finish last year was his best result at the track since he achieved the same result in 2009.
Lorenzo has stood on the top step of the podium at Valencia twice in the premier class in the last four races he has started at the track, but has also recorded two DNFs. His only other MotoGP™ podium at the track came when he finished third in the 2009 Valencia GP, but he was forced to miss the 2011 race due to injury. If Lorenzo were to lift the title he would become only the third rider to overturn a points deficit at the final round of the season, along with Wayne Rainey (1992) and Nicky Hayden (2006).
The permutations that would see Rossi lift his elusive tenth World Championship title, or Lorenzo make it a hat trick of MotoGP™ crowns, are below. If both riders were to finish on the same points, then Lorenzo would be champion due to the fact he has more wins than Rossi in 2015 (currently Lorenzo has six to Rossi’s four):
• If Lorenzo wins the race then Rossi needs to finish second to become world champion.
• If Lorenzo finishes second then Rossi needs to finish on the podium to become world champion.
• If Lorenzo finishes third then Rossi needs to finish sixth or better to become world champion.
• If Lorenzo finishes fourth then Rossi needs to finish ninth or better to become world champion.
• If Lorenzo finishes fifth to ninth then Rossi needs to finish no more than six places further back to become world champion.
• If Lorenzo finishes lower than ninth then Rossi will be world champion
After 17 races, 418 laps and a total of 1988.8km covered, the 2015 MotoGP™ World Championship title fight between Rossi and Lorenzo all comes down to this.
The Pre-Event Press Conference for the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana kicks off at 17:00 local time on Thursday, with Rossi and Lorenzo set to hit the track for the first time on Friday at 9:55am for Free Practice 1.
Having secured the Moto2™ World Championship in Motegi, Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) now turns his attention to setting a new points record in the intermediate class. With a total of 343 points, a finish of 12th or better at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valencia will see the Frenchman set a new intermediate class record for points amassed in a season. The impressive Frenchman has already equalled the record for number of podiums in a season in the intermediate class with 14, sharing the record with Marc Marquez and Tito Rabat. In both 2013 and 2014 Zarco finished third in Valencia, his past performances suggest he’ll break yet more records in the final race.
An unfortunate crash during the Malaysian GP saw Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40) miss out on the podium, having been in the battle for third when the fall occurred. Even with his second DNF of the year Rins still holds second in the Moto2™ standings with a solid 214 points, Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) is scheduled to return from injury and only eight points shy of Rins. The battle for second is still very much on, each rider having only taken one podium finish in the Valencia GP before.
Both Tom Luthi (Derendinger Racing Interwetten) and Jonas Folger (AGR Team) remain separated by only two points in their battle for fifth, the duo having both finished on the podium in Sepang. Luthi won the 2014 Valencia GP aboard a Suter, looking to recreate the feat and take Kalex’s first Valencia victory. Valencia stands as the only circuit on the current calendar that Kalex have not claimed a win at in the Moto2™ World Championship.
Fourth in the standings, Sam Lowes (Speed Up Racing) is out for a final podium finish on the Speed Up before swapping to the Gresini team and a Kalex frame next season. Lowes has stood out as the most competitive rider on the Speed Up frame with five podiums, including one win. The Brit finished seventh last year in Valencia.
Alongside Rabat, Dominique Aegerter (Technomag Racing Interwetten) is aiming to make his racing return in Valencia after falling heavily during the Aragon GP. He currently sits 17th in the standings with 62 points and a best finish of third in Mugello this year.
Federico Fuligni (Ciatti) will make his second Moto2™ wildcard appearance in 2015, the Italian having competed in Aragon earlier this year. Lucas Mahias and the Transfiormers chassis make their first appearance of 2015, the combination raced three times in 2014 with a best finish of 18th.
A perfectly calculated race plan saw Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) take a vital Moto3™ race win to keep his championship hopes alive for another rounds. Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) had a difficult race, a poor start saw him outside the points in the early stages and try as he might to recover seventh was all he could manage. After the British GP Oliveira was 110 points behind Kent, the KTM rider mounting an incredible comeback to take the title battle to the last race. Now Kent heads to the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valencia with a 24-point lead, needing to finish 14th or better to secure his first World Championship.
Meanwhile Oliveira must win the race, if Kent finishes 15th with the KTM rider winning the race, Oliveira would be given the title on virtue of podium finishes. Both riders would have six wins, but Oliveira has three seconds and if Kent were 15th, he would have only one. This is the eighth time the lightweight class has been decided at Valencia since it became the last race of the season in 2002. For the third straight year the Moto3™ World Championship will be decided at the close, both Maverick Viñales and Alex Marquez also having to fight till the final round for their titles. Kent won the Valencia GP in 2012, while Oliveira has a best finish of eighth.
As the battle for the title rages, a variety of tight skirmishes burn further down the field for top championship positions. It’s an all-Italian battle for fourth as Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46) leads Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) by two points. Both have shown great speed throughout the year, although Antonelli has had the better form recently. Both riders could also steal third in the championship, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Team Moto3) currently occupying the spot with a 20-point advantage.
Fabio Quartararo (Estrella Galicia 0,0) will return from injury that saw him miss all three flyaway races, the rookie currently tenth in the World Championship. His teammate, Rookie of the Year, Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) aims to continue his strong end to the year having taken three podiums in the last four races.
Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) will join the grid as wildcards. Both riders currently locked in a close battle at the top of the Moto3™ Junior World Championship. Bulega will join the Moto3™ World Championship full time in 2016 with SKY Racing Team VR46.