Valencia Grand Prix, Race day round-up: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3

 In MotoGP, News



In his 250th Grand Prix start, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo said goodbye to that title in stunning style, as the ‘Spartan’ took a lights-to-flag signature victory in his final appearance in blue. A record-breaking pole saw the Spaniard then escape at the front, holding off a late charge from reigning World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). An Italian battle royale decided the final podium place, with Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) taking P3 on the penultimate lap.

Under the blue skies of a long-awaited dry race day, Lorenzo got the holeshot from pole, but it was Iannone who was the big winner into Turn 1 as the Italian blasted through on the inside to take second. With the ‘Spartan’ imperious at the front, Iannone led the chase as Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) joined him in the battle behind the lead, after the number 93 suffered a bad start off the line.

After getting past Viñales, Rossi and Iannone fought it out at the head of the second group as the number 99 began to disappear into the distance, with Marquez and Viñales in close company. As Rossi got to the head of the chasers, Iannone hit back again – and so began Round 2. It was the ‘Maniac’ who initially came out on top, before Marquez saw his shot and got through – gapping the fight to start a charge after Lorenzo at the front, eventually cutting more than three seconds off the number 99’s lead.

The podium decider was left to a brutal, classic battle between Iannone and Rossi – with the rider from Tavullia seeming to have got the better of his younger compatriot, until Iannone hit back with an aggressive move that also gave him a gap he was able to hold onto over the line. Viñales completed his final weekend with Suzuki in P5.

Dovizioso eventually dropped slightly back from the front group into the clutches of Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and brother Pol (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) to fight for P6 after grip issues – with younger brother Pol finally taking the honours over the line in a photo-finish against Dovizioso, and Aleix seeing the flag in eighth.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) unfortunately suffered a crash to bid adieu to his fantastic latter half of 2016 – but he takes the title of Top Independent rider although bettered by Pol Espargaro on the day. Crutchlow’s compatriot Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) had another impressive ride as he gets back to fitness following a crash ahead of the British GP and two knee surgeries, taking P9 in his final race with Tech 3 before he moves to Red Bull KTM Factory Racing.

Alvaro Bautista had a stunning ride in his final race with Aprilia Racing Team Gresini in their special “Red” livery, completing the top ten to round out a year of impressive progress.

Returning Repsol Honda Team rider Dani Pedrosa crashed out after an impressive weekend despite a recent collarbone break, and wildcard Mika Kallio, debuting the new KTM RC16, was sadly unable to see the flag after technical trouble – but the Austrian factory now head into the 2017 pre-season with vital information after lining up for the first time.

After a history-making 2016, MotoGP™ will return in pre-season testing on Tuesday – with Lorenzo in red at Ducati as the pack shuffles and prepares its hand for another incredible season of motorcycle racing.



Moto2™ signed off 2016 with a true grand finale – a breathless first half of the race to be remembered as Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport), Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40) and Tom Lüthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) went to war in stunning style. A showcase of the best of Moto2™, the fight then became a duel for the lead between equally the aggressive Italian and Frenchman – before Zarco started to pull away, taking his final victory in the intermediate class ahead of his graduation to MotoGP™. As tyres dropped towards the end, some paid the price for the fight – as Lüthi came back through to take second, and confirm second in the Championship, leaving Morbidelli to complete the podium in P3.

The EG0,0 Marc VDS rider’s 18 point haul means he just misses the top three in the standings, as Rins’ fifth place keeps the Spaniard ahead by a single point – after also suffering at the end, caught by Federal Oil Gresini Moto2’s Sam Lowes.

Lüthi got the best start off the line, but Zarco held firm into Turn 1 – and then the battle began. With Valencia having a reputation as a track difficult to overtake on, the four at the front proved the exception to the rule with an incredible showcase of the best of Moto2™.

Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) had an unlucky end to a good weekend as he crashed out, leaving Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) to cross the line in P6 and P7. Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) ended his Moto2™ career in the top ten in eighth, ahead of a solid intermediate class ride from Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) to end the year with a P9.

Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team) completed the top ten after a stunning save.



Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) has signed off his Moto3™ career with an unbelievable fight back through the field to the victory, after ending up in P22 in the early stages of the race. Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) took P2 and another podium to round off an impressive season, taking the title of Rookie of the Year in the process, with Sky Racing Team VR46 rider Andrea Migno completing the podium.

Blue skies and perfect conditions – the last battle for Moto3™ had the stage perfectly set for another incredible race. There was drama early as pole setter Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) stalled on the grid and was forced to push the bike into pitlane – leaving Bastianini and Binder free to lead the initial melee on the first lap. Then, Francesco Bagnaia (Pull&Bear Aspar Mahindra) and Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing) crashed out as the Argentine lost control and collected the Italian – expensive in ‘Pecco’’s attempt to secure P3 in the title standings – followed by a problem for reigning Champion Binder that saw the South African suddenly sit up and drop from second on track to outside the top twenty; able to then get back into his rhythm and start fighting back.

That left key Rookie of the Year contender Joan Mir at the head of the race and impressing as he did on the way to his first win in Austria. The Mallorcan held the gap initially at six tenths over Rookie rival Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) in P2 – with the leader for the award going into the weekend, Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46), down in P19 after a 12-place penalty dropped him down the starting grid.

Mir was then penalised for a pass under Yellow Flags and was forced to drop a place – slowing down for the chasing pack to catch him and immediately allowing Andrea Migno through from P2. A front group of eleven riders were close on track – with Binder the last in the freight train as his recovery ride saw him knocking on the door to the top ten with 14 laps to go; fastest man on track.

The South African was well in the podium fight with seven laps to go, hunting down Migno and Mir for the victory. Reminiscent of his fight back from last on the grid in Jerez – when he stormed through to hit the front and then disappear for the victory – Binder had already gained back every place he lost with the early incident, bar one.

The 2016 Moto3™ World Champion made one mistake as he ran wide and dropped back into P4, before moving through to the front once again and proving unmovable around the last lap, despite the best efforts of Mir and Migno. Gresini Racing Team Moto3 duo Bastianini and Di Giannantonio fought it out just behind, with ‘Bestia’ finally getting the better of his rookie teammate and confirming himself P2 in the title standings in 2016.

Juanfran Guevara (RBA Racing Team) got good points in return for his great form in Valencia in P6, ahead of Jakub Kornfeil, who signed off from Drive M7 SIC Racing Team with an impressive ride into P7 following his podium in Sepang.

Philipp Oettl (Schedl GP Racing) took home another top ten in P8, ahead of local hero Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0), who leaves Moto3™ after a solid ride to ninth – and took third in the Championship with the haul of points, after Bagnaia was unable to score. Bagnaia’s teammate, Pull&Bear Aspar Mahindra’s home hero Jorge Martin, completed the top ten.



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