2018 Valencian GP (MotoGP) – Preview

After 18 rounds (17 races after the British Grand Prix didn’t get underway), and countless races that we will remember for a long time, the 2018 MotoGP World Championship comes to a conclusion at the final round (Round 19) at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, a chance to celebrate the season, and farewell a number of riders that will be leaving the MotoGP grid, including Scott Redding, Bradley Smith, Álvaro Bautista, Xavier Simeon, and the retiring Dani Pedrosa.

Pedrosa is the biggest name from this group of riders to be moving on from MotoGP after 54 wins (31 in MotoGP), 153 podiums (112 in MotoGP), 49 pole positions (31 in MotoGP), and 64 fastest laps (44 in MotoGP), claiming the 125cc World Championship in 2003, as well as the 250cc World Championship in 2004 and 2005, with a best championship finish in the MotoGP World Championship of second in 2007, 2010, and 2012, falling 18 points short of Jorge Lorenzo in 2012 after becoming the Repsol Honda Team’s main championship contender after the ankle injury suffered by Casey Stoner at Indianapolis.

Overall, Pedrosa has scored 4151 points across all classes (2959 points in MotoGP), and will start for the 295th and final time across all classes on Sunday (217th time in MotoGP).

However, that won’t be the only focal point in Valencia, and while Marc Márquez (321 points) and Andrea Dovizioso (220 points) have secured first and second in the world championship respectively, the battle for third is still alive between the two Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates in Valentino Rossi (195 points) and Maverick Viñales (193 points) in what is a “winner takes all” scenario in terms of finishing third in the championship in very simplistic terms, although it could be more complicated than that should they finish the race in Valencia down the field.

In addition to this, the fight for fifth in the world championship is still alive in what is also a “winner takes all” scenario between Álex Rins (149 points), Johann Zarco (149 points), and Danilo Petrucci (144 points). Cal Crutchlow (148 points) is in-between Zarco and Petrucci in the standings, but is out of Valencia after breaking his right ankle in Friday practice at Phillip Island.

Andrea Iannone (133 points) could also finish fifth in the world championship, as can Jorge Lorenzo (130 points), but both would need results to go their way to achieve that, while Dani Pedrosa (106 points) can still finish his final MotoGP season in 10th-place in the championship should he win in Valencia, and Lorenzo scores no points.

So, who will take out the final race of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship?

Judging by recent form, and his four wins from his last five races, it has to be Marc Márquez to claim what would be his 10th race victory of the season, and it would be just the second time in his premier class career, third across all classes, that he would have won 10 races or more in a single season.

I think on the podium with Márquez will be Andrea Dovizioso, while Dani Pedrosa will claim his first podium of 2018 in his final MotoGP race.

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2017 MotoGP Valencia GP

The 18th and final round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia in Spain, and we have championship decider between Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso in what has been one of the greatest seasons in MotoGP history.

Márquez (282 points) leads the world championship on his factory Honda by 21 points over factory Ducati rider Dovizioso (261 points) after 17 races filled with excitement and unpredictability!

Márquez has taken six wins, 11 podiums, three fastest laps, and seven pole positions in 2017. Márquez has also finished inside the top six in 14 of the 17 races in 2017, including finishing 16 times inside the top four, but has suffered three retirements. A crash in Argentina, a crash in France, and a rare, but dramatic engine failure for his Honda during the British Grand Prix.

Márquez has also had to come back from a 37-point deficit (although both times against Maverick Viñales, who is out of championship contention) to take a lead of the championship in eight of the last nine rounds of the season heading into the title decider in Valencia, where he is looking to win his fourth MotoGP World Championship.

Conversely, Dovizioso has only led the championship after two seperate rounds in 2017 in where he has finished 16 of the 17 races, only crashing out in Argentina, and finishing inside the top eight on 15 occasions on route to six wins, eight podiums, and two fastest laps.

Dovizioso is attempting to come back from a deficit of 30 points or greater for the third time this season, and needs to score 21 points than Márquez if he is to win his first MotoGP World Championship. If he were to win the championship, and not claim pole position in Valencia, he will become the first rider since Wayne Rainey in 1992 to win a premier class world championship after not securing a single pole position during a season.

Viñales is third in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship on 226 points on his factory Yamaha, but is out of championship contention, but has secured third spot in the championship since he can’t move ahead of Dovizioso in the championship, and Valentino Rossi, who is fourth in the championship on 197 points can’t move ahead of Viñales in the championship standings.

So, for Márquez to secure his fourth premier class world championship at the Valencia Grand Prix, one of these scenarios must happen:

  1. If Dovizioso doesn’t win.
  2. If Dovizioso wins the race, Márquez must finish 11th or higher.

For Dovizioso to secure his first premier class world championship at the Valencia Grand Prix, this scenarios must happen:

  1. Dovizioso must win the race, and Márquez has to finish 12th or lower.

So, who is going to win the Valencia Grand Prix, and most importantly, who is going to win the 2017 MotoGP World Championship.

For starters, it must be pointed out that Andrea Dovizioso has never won in Valencia at any point during his grand prix motorcycle racing career, and has only finished on the podium in Valencia twice. Those were a second-place finish in 2004 on route to claiming the 125cc World Championship, and a third-place finish in 2011 in his last race for the Respsol Honda Team.

In addition to this, Dovizioso’s poor record, and Márquez’s great record on anti-clockwise circuits in 2017 should be noted, with Márquez outscoring Dovizioso by 100 points to 30 in the four races on anti-clockwise circuits in 2017.

There are also a number of other riders wanting to win the final race of 2017. Maverick Viñales wanting to win his first race since the French Grand Prix, Valentino Rossi wanting to claim his first victory since the Dutch TT, Dani Pedrosa wanting to claim his second win of the season to help his teammate Márquez secure the title, and Jorge Lorenzo wanting to claim his first victory for Ducati, and his first win since Valencia last year!

I think Lorenzo can break his duck and claim his first victory on-board the factory Ducati, given the recent speed and form that he has shown, with Márquez in second, Viñales in third, Dovizioso in fourth, Rossi in fifth, and Pedrosa in sixth in what will be for the most part a tight, and tense race.

Before I go, as you may have heard, the Valencia Grand Prix will be the final race in the commentary box for Nick Harris. I would like to wish Nick Harris all the best in his final race as a MotoGP commentator, and all the best in his retirement. You have been the voice of grand prix motorcycle racing, and one of the greatest sports broadcasters we have ever seen! We wish you all the best in your future endeavours!

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (7:55pm, and 12:05am Saturday morning AEDT). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (7:55pm AEDT), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (11:30pm AEDT), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (12:10am and 12:35am Sunday morning AEDT). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 9:40am local time (7:40pm AEDT), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 2:00pm local time (12:00am Monday morning AEDT).