2018 Valencia MotoGP Results & Recap
The 2018 MotoGP season finale was a rain-filled, red-flagged event that saw one rider master the sloppy conditions – Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso.
The Italian claimed the round-19 win after dominating the re-started race in the rain. The conditions diminished visibility, so being up front was the place to be for Dovizioso, who claimed his fourth win of the season, the others arriving in Qatar, the Czech Republic and San Marino).
Dovizioso was joined on the podium by Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins, who was the leader before the 27-lap race was red flagged on lap 14, and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro. The third-place finish was a first podium for both Espargaro and the factory KTM team.
The conditions caused many crashes, including three notables that didn’t finish due to wrecks: the 2018 MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda RC213V, and the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo of Maverick Vinales and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi.
“Today’s was truly a spectacular victory,” Andrea Dovizioso says. “I have finally managed to win at Valencia, which for me and for Ducati has always been rather a tough track. The first race was very difficult, because Rins started off really strong. I stayed clam however and reeled him in, but Rossi was also recovering and he was very quick so I had to manage the situation while the rain was increasing lap after lap.
“In the second race we managed to make all the difference because we were able to use a new tire we hadn’t used in the morning warm-up as well as making a small change to the set-up. I’m really pleased with the way we worked together with the team and to have been able to give them this win, which really helps cheer everyone up. It was a great way to finish the season!”
Following is from the official report:
On the original start, Rins had destroyed the field to gain a huge lead after only a couple of corners, and the rain was falling but not heavy. The conditions remained difficult, however, and a good few big names – including some wet specialists – found themselves sliding out.
They included a highside that sent Marquez into the gravel from podium contention, and a high-speed tumble for Viñales after a good initial getaway. KTM’s Pol Espargaro crashed out of P4 at Turn 3 after a stunning start, but he was incredibly able to re-join.
Brother Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing), Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) and Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) also all crashed out and couldn’t get back in it, but Rossi? At that stage, he was only getting faster as the rain was getting worse.
Eventually, however, the volume of rain was starting to beat the circuit’s ability to drain and the Red Flag came out on lap 14. The race would be re-started for 14 laps, and the grid would be decided by the standings as of the last completed lap – meaning it was Rins on pole, Dovizioso second, Rossi third and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) lining up fourth in his final race. 14 laps and the end of an era for many…
The front row held station as the lights went out for “Race 2” and all 16 riders safely negotiated the opening exchanges, with Rins leading. However, Dovizioso was once again able to get the power down on his GP18 to slice past Rins heading onto lap 2 – with Rossi in close pursuit. The three leaders quickly gapped fourth place Espargaro by 2.9 seconds, and Pedrosa tucked in behind the KTM in P5.
By then, the rain was starting to fall once again and conditions were still incredibly tough. Nevertheless, the leading trio were all lapping in the low 1:43s – two seconds quicker than anyone else as it soon became a three horse race for the final win of 2018.
On Lap 6, Dovizioso then pulled the pin to create a one-second gap back to Rins – a 1:49.921 creating that gap, with 1.5 seconds then splitting the trio. Another fastest lap soon followed for Dovi, as Rossi made his move past Rins at Turn 4 – 1.5 down on ‘DesmoDovi’. However, with six to go, the gap was up to 2.4 and a lap later, the Ducati rider’s lead was over three seconds. But then, the drama hit again and ‘The Doctor’ was down at Turn 12 – rider ok, but lifting Espargaro and KTM up to a podium place.
As the last lap began, Dovizioso’s advantage was four seconds to Rins as both safely waded their way to the finish line – the Italian taking his first win since Misano and Rins grabbing a fifth podium of the year to claim P5 in the Championship. Then, emotional scenes followed as Espargaro kept Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) at bay to take both his and KTM’s maiden MotoGP™ podium – phenomenal from rider and factory alike after the number 44 rider had crashed earlier, remounted and dueled both Repsol Hondas. After a difficult season for the Austrian marque with injury struggles, it made for an incredible dose of oxygen, so said Espargaro.
Behind him and Pirro came the new MotoGP Legend: Dani Pedrosa. The “Little Samurai” took home a hard-earned P5 from his farewell Grand Prix ride on home soil as he helped Repsol Honda secure the triple crown. Behind the three-time Champion was fellow Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), the Japanese rookie taking home a career-best P6 as top Independent Team rider in the race, with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) taking the overall 2018 Independent Team rider honours after crossing the line in P7. The Frenchman held off Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who grabbed his best KTM result on his final ride for the team.
Replacement rider Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda Castrol) crossed the line in P9, with Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) rounding out the top ten – a great ride, but not quite enough to beat Morbidelli to ‘Rookie of the Year’. On his final Grand Prix appearance, Scott Redding (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) claimed a season-best P11, with Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) bringing his Ducati career to an end with a tough P12 on the comeback from injury.
Rossi remounted to ride to P13 and P3 in the Championship is the nine-time World Champion’s, with Karel Abraham (Angel Nieto Team) and Jordi Torres (Reale Avintia Racing) claiming the final point-scoring positions. Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) crashed out of his final Grand Prix race with seven to go – rider ok.
With that, the curtain comes down after another sensational end to the 2018 MotoGP World Championship – and another magnificent season draws to a close. There’s not long to wait before 2019 begins, however, as engines fire up for testing – and 2019 – on Tuesday.