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Maverick Viñales at the 2018 GP of Valencia
NEWS

MotoGP Valencia: A slippery ending

Nov 182018

The last chapter of 2018 MotoGP was almost a washout. The rain fell on Valencia with watery relish. Storms and showers thoroughly coated the Spanish facility on the east coast from the moment the paddock began to assemble on Thursday and lasted well into Sunday evening when teams were busy making the initial preparations for the first 2019 test less than forty-eight hours later.

Brief moments of respite helped the nineteenth round of nineteen take place at the flat and compact Ricardo Tormo circuit. This was none more evident midway through the MotoGP race on Sunday afternoon. Only fifteen riders remained on two wheels through the mirror-like conditions on the asphalt, and after a particular heavy downpour (that had claimed Movistar Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales at high speed and stopped his challenge to teammate Valentino Rossi for third position in the final championship standings) a damp red flag was waved.

Upon the restart more moments of drama ensued. It looked as though eventual winner Andrea Dovizioso would face a stern test from a closing and impressive Rossi (flying back from a lowly qualification slot)…but the Italian tumbled out of another podium position for the second GP in a row. Rossi kept his bronze medal for 2018 thanks to Viñales’ mishap but Valencia continues to be a frustrating stage for MotoGP’s greatest icon.

“It’s a great, great shame: I’m so sorry. We needed this podium,” #46 said. “I needed this podium but also Yamaha, also the team. I made a mistake but also looking at the data and we don’t understand very well what’s happened. But, anyway, it remained a good Sunday. I was competitive. In the last two races of the season I don’t take any results but I was fighting for the victory. This is a great, great feeling. When you fight for the victory it’s something very positive. The other positive thing is that I finished third in the championship – the first Yamaha. I think I deserved it because I fight all the season also when the situation was very difficult. I also started from 16th; so it’s the other positive thing of the day.”

A less-than-fit Jorge Lorenzo signed off his two-year Ducati tenure with 12th position while Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders Johann Zarco and Hafizh Syharin also reached the chequered flag to curtail a ten year association for the team as the carrier of that fetching black and green livery. Franco Morbidelli confirmed his ranking as 2018 Rookie of the Year, despite being another one that ended the day on the Spanish deck.

Marc VDS’ Alex Marquez was left with a bittersweet taste of the rain. The Spanish ace looked to have the Moto2 win in his pocket but in attempting to ease off his push at the front of the pack momentarily lost control and crashed on Turn 14. He was able to quickly recover his #73 machine and pushed back to regain third place: his first trophy from the second half of a trying campaign. World Champion Pecco Bagnaia did not make the top three after almost being skittled on the first lap by teammate and Pole Position holder Luca Marini. The MotoGP-bound No.1 had already completed his work for 2018.

 

With riders emptying water from their boots and race suits and teams peeling away the scrapes from the tarmac and gravel, MotoGP closed a compelling and entertaining story this year. As is customary at Valencia, the next instalment is a matter of hours away.

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