#ValenciaGP Sunday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Following a highly dramatic Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, the 2023 MotoGP™ World Champion is Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) after Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) crashed out of the race following an incident at Turn 4 with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Pecco went on to claim victory as a phenomenal fight for P1 played out, with Fabio Di Giannantonio(Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) locked onto the Italian’s rear wheel. ‘Diggia’ crossed the line in 2nd with Zarco 3rd. However, a post-race sanction for Di Giannantonio due to wrong pressures demoted the Italian to P4 with Zarco being promoted to P2 and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) inheriting the final podium position.
Because of a Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) three-place grid penalty for ignoring the black and orange flags in Warm Up, Pecco was promoted to pole position for the final showdown, with Martin still launching from P6.
For the final and most important time in 2023 it was time to race. Bagnaia got the dream getaway from pole to grab a crucial holeshot, with Martin also making a fantastic launch to grab an early P2. Pecco P1, Martin P2 – that’s how it was after the opening lap, with the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing pair of Binder and Jack Miller P3 and P4.
Between the title fighting duo, it was as you were after the second lap but a monumental moment then took place at Turn 1 at the start of Lap 3. Martin was right in the slipstream of Pecco and as the duo chucked the anchors on into Turn 1, Martin got sucked in and made slight contact with Pecco. Martin was wide – well wide – and dropped to P8, with Pecco unhindered by the incident. Huge drama early on.
The fightback began on Lap 4 for Martin. P8 became P7 as the Spaniard got the better of Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™). Martin tried to do the same to Viñales a lap later but the latter bit straight back – and a repeat played out at Turn 11.
Up front, Binder was crawling all over the back of Pecco but focus was elsewhere. A battle was raging between Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Johann Zarco(Prima Pramac Racing), with that enabling Viñales and Martin to close right in.
What happened next ultimately decided the Championship. Martin was getting visibly frustrated and on Lap 6, having finally got through on Viñales, Marc Marquez was next in line. At Turn 4, Martin lunged up the inside of the eight-time World Champion but contact was made. So much so, the pair were tangled together. Martin ran straight into the gravel as Marquez was thrown into a vicious highside, as two of the home crowd favourites were down and out. Marquez’s final race with Honda ended in huge disappointment, with Martin’s title hopes vanishing. A painful end to a wonderful campaign for the Prima Pramac star.
With Martin out, no matter what Bagnaia did, he would be the 2023 MotoGP™ World Champion. ‘MARTIN OUT’ was signalled on his pit board as the two KTMs of Binder and Miller were now first and second, with Zarco and Viñales chasing Pecco.
With 12 laps to go though, Binder made a mistake. A big one too. Just as he did in the Tissot Sprint, the South African was wide at Turn 11, and that dropped him from P1 to P6. Miller now led Pecco by just over a second.
Binder’s comeback began with an aggressive move on Alex Marquez at Turn 4, and it was one that saw him handed a drop one position penalty. With nine laps left, Miller’s race then ended. The Aussie crashed at Turn 10 which handed the lead back to Bagnaia, who had Zarco just 0.3s behind him. A disastrous few laps for KTM.
The Championship might have been decided, but the race certainly wasn’t. Binder was just 1.5s away from the lead again and Diggia tagged himself onto the rear wheel of the KTM. Soon, the Italian was into P3 with five laps to go.
With three laps left, 0.3s was still the gap between Pecco and Zarco. But cue the jaws music – Di Giannantonio was on a mission. On Lap 25 of 27, the top trio were split by 0.3s over the line. At Turn 4, Di Giannantonio shoved his Ducati up the inside of Zarco’s and made a move stick for P2. Next: the World Champion elect.
LAST LAP OF THE SEASON: Three riders, only one could win. Would Bagnaia claim the title with a win or would it be Di Giannantonio or Zarco standing on the top step? Halfway around the lap, there was no way through. A head shake from Di Giannantonio told us frustrations were there, but Pecco rode superbly to fend off both his compatriot and Zarco to win the World Championship in the best way possible: victory. A classy ride from your top three. The podium result would later change however with Di Giannantonio’s three-second penalty demoting him to P4 and promoting Binder onto the podium.
Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) earned his best result of the season with a fantastic P5. Alex Marquez was P6 with Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) capping off his Yamaha career with a solid P7, as Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), Luca Marini in his final Mooney VR46 Racing Team appearance and Viñales rounded out the top 10.
An unwell Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) finished P11 after feeling ill, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), Lorenzo Savadori(CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) and Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) the other finishers, as the latter ends his full-time MotoGP™ career – for now – in P14 after a crash and remount.
Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) and Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) were the other riders to DNF, Bezzecchi after an early race crash with Marc Marquez.
That’s a wrap for 2023 in the FIM Moto2™ World Championship and Fermin Aldeguer (CAG SpeedUp) stole the limelight yet again as he took his fifth victory of the season and fourth in a row. The Spaniard was untouchable as Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) had to settle for P2, with Alonso Lopez (CAG SpeedUp) coming out on top in the battle for the final podium spot in P3.
The Boscoscuro rider stretched the field right from the beginning as he had Canet clinging onto his coattails in second place. With 20 laps to go they already had a substantial gap to Marcos Ramirez (OnlyFans American Racing) in third as the hot pace from Aldeguer stretched out the top five.
Ramirez was out of touch to threaten the top two and had Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) for company as the Brit was desperate to find his way through with the prospect of a third overall in the Championship still tangible.
However, at the front Canet was confidently responding to Aldeguer’s pace, and the two were Dixon’s rivals in the fight for third overall. With 17 laps to go Canet was the fastest rider on the circuit too as he set the quickest lap of the race so far and bettered it one lap later.
The battle for 3rd then began to hot up even more as a flying Lopez caught Ramirez and Dixon as he brought Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) to join the party with him. But Lopez made his way through on Dixon with 14 laps remaining. The Spaniard was on a charge after fighting his way up from 14th on the grid to sit in fourth place with his sights set on Ramirez ahead of him.
12 laps to go and Aldeguer was able to extend the gap to 1.5s. The Spaniard continued to put down his relentless pace and took victory in Valencia by 3.982s, with Canet bringing home second. The fight for the final place on the podium went absolutely to the wire as Lopez got through on Ramirez but the American Racing rider then went for a lunge at the final corner on the final lap. It was a well-judged one, but Lopez got the cutback and won the drag to the line.
The points scorers
Behind Ramirez in P4, Chantra got the better of Dixon in the end as the Thai rider capped off his 2023 season with a 5th place as he pulled eight tenths on the Brit in P6. Dixon ends 2023 fourth overall, with his compatriot Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) completing his final Grand Prix race in seventh as he gets set for a move to the WorldSBK paddock.
Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) took eighth ahead of his teammate Dennis Foggia, with Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completing the top 10. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) claimed P11 ahead of World Champion Acosta, who ended his season with a P12 after a fraught start and tougher race. The Spaniard’s attentions now turn to Tuesday’s Valencia Test.
The final point scorers were Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Mastercamp), Barry Baltus (Fieten Olie Racing GP) and Jeremy Alcoba (Gresini Racing Moto2™) who took 13th, 14th, and 15th respectively.
Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) has done it. He is a Grand Prix victor in 2023 – and he did in style. The Japanese rider put on quite some show as he fought tooth and nail in a five-rider scrap for victory at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. The final race of 2023 went down the wire in typical Moto3™ fashion as David Alonso (Valresa GASGAS Aspar Team) left everything he had out on the Circuit Ricardo Tormo as he pushed Sasaki right until the final corner.Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) was very much in the mix as well. The Spaniard came home in P3 after getting his elbows firmly out on the last lap, almost snatching second from Alonso in a close drag to the line.
The riders lined up on the grid for the final race of the 2023 Moto3™ season, and with the Championship decided it promised to deliver barnstorming lightweight action. Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) started from pole position but it was Sasaki who took the hole shot down in Turn 1 as the Moto3™ bikes barrelled in.
The Japanese rider had Veijer and Öncü for company as the riders scrapped for position in the opening sector. We lost a couple at Turn 2 as Vicente Perez (BOE Motorsports) and Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) went down and out of the race. Xavi Artigas (CFMoto Racing PruestelGP) was later awarded a double long lap penalty after causing the incident.
The top three remained line astern throughout the first lap as Joel Kelso (CFMoto Racing PruestelGP) and Ortola looked keen to threaten the podium spots. Veijer then took over the lead from his teammate one lap later as he dived up the inside at Turn 2. Veijer, Sasaki, Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Kelso, Ortola was the order as the race began to settle with 17 laps still remaining.
As the laps ticked away a leading group began to form as Alonso and Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) put themselves in contention in a seven-bike battle for the lead – Alonso getting his elbows out as he got firmly stuck into the battle for victory.
The pace was hot as they were consistently putting times under the race lap record with Veijer leading the way lap after lap. With 10 laps to go it became it a battle of five as Kelso and Rueda began to fall off the back of the group.
A big move came from Alonso with seven to go as the Colombian chucked it up the inside of Öncü at the final corner with very little room to come through. The two made contact as they both ran wide and lost time to Sasaki and Veijer ahead.
Alonso quickly recovered the time in a matter of corners and one lap later he made his move on Sasaki to put himself into P2. Veijer, Alonso, Sasaki, Ortola, Öncü was now the order in the top five with Öncü finding himself almost a second back.
Veijer cracked for the first time with five to go as he finally lost the lead with a small mistake seeing him run wide and drop to fourth, promoting Sasaki to the lead with Ortola and Alonso hot on his tail.
Sasaki led the way on the penultimate lap as Deniz Öncü was now back in the mix and joined onto the back of the group. The heat was turned up as Veijer shot up the inside of Ortola to take third. Ortola bit back at the beginning of the last lap and it was now or never on the final lap.
Sasaki led the way as they barrelled through the first two sectors for the final time. Alonso was all over his rearwheel with Ortola shadowing Alonso’s every move. It came down to the final corner in the end as the Colombian tried all he could to throw it up the inside but had couldn’t find his way past the Japanese rider as he took his first Grand Prix victory ahead with Alonso fending off Ortola in close drag to the line.
It was heartbreak for Veijer after he led the majority to end up having to settle for fourth, and Öncü did recover to catch the leading group but didn’t manage to make any moves as he brought home P5. Rueda finished in a lonely sixth place with Kelso a further second back in P7. 1.5 seconds back from the Aussie was a 3-rider scrap for eighth place which was won by Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) who got the better of David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports) and Ryusei Yamanaka (GASGAS Aspar Team) in ninth and 10th.
Taiyo Furusato (Honda Team Asia) finished his 2023 campaign with P11 ahead of Fillipo Farioli (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing). The newly crowned Champion had a steady end to his title-winning season as he took 13th with Adrian Fernandez (Leopard Racing) and Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) taking the final point-scoring positions.