Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso took a smashing win in the final race of the MotoGP season in the Valencia GP, while Pol Espargaro took his and KTM’s first ever podium finish.
A smashing and crash ridden finale to the 2018 MotoGP season, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso won the Valencia Grand Prix turning out to be one of the few riders to actually complete the very wet race. The rain drenched track made for a spectacle at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, as the top riders were pulled out of contention after back-to-back crashes. The race was even stopped at half-point bringing with the red flag out, only to be started again for a 14 lap stint. Dovizioso ended the season just like he started it – with a win. However, the race was a game changed for KTM, which saw rider Pol Espargaro take his and the team’s first ever podium in the sport. Suzuki’s Alex Rins took his fifth podium of the season, finishing behind Dovizioso.
The Valencia GP started out wet but was drying when the race begun. However, it wasn’t long before the clouds were back over the circuit and the track was soaked again. Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales started on pole in a surprise qualifying session, but couldn’t hold on to the lead for long as Rins and Dovi were quick to pass the rider on Turn 2 of the opening lap. Rins took the lead and was a good 2 seconds clear of Dovi. The next few laps saw Rins extend his gap further to 4 seconds.
But, the action was yet to arrive on the track as the weather conditions worsened. The crashes began piling up at the back that started with Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia, which was followed by Jack Miller of Pramac Ducati. This was followed Michele Pirro (Angel Nieto Ducati) and Danilo Petrucci of Pramac Ducati crashing as well. Pol Espargaro too crashed out after Lap 5 while fighting world champion Marc Marquez for third, but escaped unhurt returning into contention. Marquez though lasted a few corners have that incident and had a major highside on Turn 9 further hurting his injured shoulder. The incident ended the Honda rider’s run in the finale, and was followed up by Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone also crashing in a similar manner.
By Lap 10, Rins, Dovi, Valentino Rossi and Vinales were the top four riders, all within a margin of five seconds. However, Vinales run was shortlived as a fast crash on Turn 14 pushed him out of the race followed by Marc VDS Honda’s Franco Morbidelli also crashing out while in fifth place. KTM’s Bradley Smith crashed on Lap 12 and was the ninth rider to do so.
Meanwhile, Rins was finding it difficult to keep up with the conditions and was passed by Dovizioso and Rossi, pushing down to third. By Lap 15, Dovi raised his hand pleading to stop the race as the conditions worsened even further, prompting the red flags to come out.
The race was resumed later for a 14 lap stint with the order rolled back to that of Lap 13. Rins was back in the lead but was passed again by Dovizioso on the main straight, followed by Rossi in third. The Ducati rider held on to the lead, while Rins soon slipped behind Rossi to third.
Angle Nieto Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista was the first rider to crash since the restart, in what was his final MotoGP race. With just five laps to go, the wet track finally caught up with Rossi as he crashed promoting Pol Espargaro to third, giving the rider his first-ever podium finish.
Dovi managed to finish the race without any incident, with a lead of 2.750s over Rins, while Espargaro and Pirro took third and fourth respectively, re-mounting after crashes in the pre-red-flag race.
Bringing an end to a legendary career, Honda’s Dani Pedrosa completed his final MotoGP race in fifth place, aheasd of Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami. Tech3 Yamaha’s Johann Zarco and KTM’s Smith finished at P7 and P8. Tech3’s rookie rider Hafizh Syahrin finished tenth behind Stefan Bradl, who was standing in for LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow.
Aprilia’s Scott Redding finished 11th, ahead of Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo and a damaged Yamaha ridden by Rossi. Bautista, who also crashed, re-mounted to finish 16th, behind Angel Nieto’s Karel Abraham, who moves back to WSBK next year and Jordi Torres.
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