Suzuki ace Joan Mir finished seventh at the second Valencia GP becoming MotoGP world champion for the first time. Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) and Jack Miller (Ducati) secured the victory until the last meters.
Although Suzuki ace Joan Mir was only 12th on the grid, all eyes were on him: the 23-year-old Spaniard was 37 points clear of Petronas Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo (right next to him in 11th position) and the his teammate Alex Rins (starting position 14) in the penultimate race of the season.
Franco Morbidelli had secured a much better starting position with pole position, but the Misano and Aragón winners were already 45 points behind in the World Cup standings. Star Petronas Yamaha left no stone unturned and held the lead for a long time. Pramac Ducati rider Jack Miller didn’t give up and fought until the last meters.
After the start, I placed 10th and drove what is probably the most important race of his career to date without errors. Seventh place secured him the title at the start, while Quartararo crashed and Rins had to settle for fourth.
Here’s how the race went:
Start: Jack Miller does best, but at the first corner he goes far – Morbidelli passes, followed by Pol Espargaró. Quartararo goes far to the second corner, returning to the end of the field.
Lap 1: Miller quickly recovers 2nd place. World championship leader Joan Mir is in 10th place, his teammate and title rival Rins has already moved up to seventh.
2nd round: Morbidelli leads ahead of Miller, Pol Espargaró, Nakagami, Oliveira, Zarco, Rins, Binder, Aleix Espargaró and Mir. Dovizioso in 12th place, Bradl in 19th place.
3rd round: between Pol Espargaró and Nakagami there is a small gap of 0.6 seconds.
Lap 4: Bagnaia goes far to turn 1 and loses some positions, now he is in P14.
5th round: Oliveira takes 4th place from Nakagami. The first 3 are drifting off a bit.
Lap 6: Zarco takes 6th place from Rins at the start – but then the Frenchman crashes at turn 1. I’m ninth behind Aleix Espargaró.
Lap 7: Morbidelli leads 0.8 seconds over Miller, Pol follows another 0.6 seconds behind. Oliveira is already 0.9 seconds behind his brand colleague, but he shrugged off Taka. Behind the Japanese follow Rins, Binder, Aleix Espargaró, Mir and Dovizioso. Rossi in P12. Quartararo falls back to 18th place.
Round 8: Nakagami has to be careful, he already gets a “track limit warning”.
Lap 9: Quartararo crashes into turn 6 – the final end of his dreams for the title.
Lap 10: His teammate Petronas Morbidelli continues to lead the group with confidence, the advantage is constant at 0.8 seconds, Rins (6th) is behind Nakagami and Oliveira. The Japanese then grabs the Tech3 KTM rider.
11th round: Dovizioso (10th) gets closer and closer to Me. Ninth place would be enough for the world leader to win the title early if Morbidelli wins. But then I also got the 8th place of Aleix Espargaró.
Round 12: Rins is in 5th place between Nakagami and Oliveira – too little to postpone the World Cup decision.
Lap 13: Morbidelli increases his advantage to 1.2 seconds. Miller, for his part, has half a second credit on Pol Espargaró.
Lap 14: Bradl is in 17th place, Miller is two tenths closer to the leaders.
Lap 15: Nakagami misses about a second on Pol and the much desired first podium. He shrugged off Rins. Binder (7th) hides behind his brand colleague Oliveira. The eighth follows me another 1.8 seconds behind.
16. Round: At the top the situation is unchanged, Morbidelli maintains an advantage of 0.9 seconds. But Taka gnaws at his deficit on Pol.
Lap 17: Binder wins 6th place for future teammate Oliveira. Miller presses with the fastest lap in the race, he approaches.
Round 18: Dovi takes 9th place to Aleix Espargaró after the finish. Pol has to watch out for Taka – it’s down to 0.2 seconds.
Lap 19: Morbidelli finds an answer to Miller, the lead is again 0.8 seconds Taka attacks Pol at turn 14 – but the Honda rider falls! This puts me in 7th place, confidently on my way to the title.
Lap 20: Miller cuts to Morbidelli again.
Lap 21: Morbidelli is only 0.5 seconds ahead of Miller. Pol is already 3.2 seconds behind, but at the same time he has 1.2 seconds of credit on Rins.
Lap 22: Miller wants his first MotoGP win in the dry, he pushes ever closer to the Yamaha Petronas in front of him.
Lap 23: Five laps to go, the first 2 are separated by just 0.3 seconds – but Morbidelli replies and pulls out another two tenths.
Lap 24: I’m not under pressure being seventh, Dovizioso is 0.8 seconds behind him. Rins (4th), on the other hand, has Binder behind him. Morbidelli manages to maintain a constant advantage around half a second.
Lap 25: Pol Espargaró is well on his way to the podium behind him.
Lap 26: Miller attacks again with two laps to go, approaches the leader again.
Last lap: Jack Miller took the lead and took the lead, but Morbidelli responded at turn 2. Two corners later, the game was repeated. After an incredibly exciting last lap, Morbidelli got the better of him!
Joan Mir (7th) takes Suzuki to his first MotoGP title since Kenny Roberts Jr. 2000. Suzuki Ecstar has no equal even in the team rankings.
Pol Espargaró finished third, Stefan Bradl took two points in 14th.
MotoGP result, Valencia GP (15.11.):
1. Morbidelli, Yamaha, 41: 22.478 min
2. Miller, Ducati, + 0.093 sec
3. Pol Espargaró, KTM, + 3.006
4. Rins, Suzuki, + 3.697
5. Binder, KTM, + 4.127
6. Oliveira, KTM, + 7,272
7. Mir, Suzuki, + 8,703
8. Dovizioso, Ducati, + 8,729
9. Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia, +15.512
10. Viñales, Yamaha, + 19,043
11. Bagnaia, Ducati, + 19.456
12. Rossi, Yamaha, + 19.717
13. Crutchlow, Honda, +23,802
14. Bradl, Honda, + 27,430
15. Petrucci, Ducati, + 30.619
16. Alex Marquez, Honda, + 30,619
17. Rabat, Ducati, +42.365
18. Savadori, Aprilia, + 46.472
Status of the drivers’ championship after 13 out of 14 races:
1. Mir, 171 Punkte (Weltmeister). 2. Morbidelli 142. 3. Rins 138. 4. Viñales 127. 5. Quartararo 125. 6. Dovizioso 125. 7. Pol Espargaró 122. 8. Miller 112. 9. Nakagami 105. 10. Oliveira 100. 11. Binder 87 12. Petrucci 78. 13. Zarco 71. 14. Alex Márquez 67. 15. Rossi 62. 16. Bagnaia 47. 17. Aleix Espargaró 34. 18. Crutchlow 29. 19. Lecuona 27. 20. Bradl 18. 21. Smith 12. 22. Rabat 10. 23. Pyrrhus 4.
Constructors’ championship after 13 out of 14 races:
1. Suzuki, 201 Punkte. 2. Ducati 201. 3. Yamaha 188. 4. KTM 175. 5. Honda 133. 6. Aprilia 43.
World team championship after 13 out of 14 races:
1. Team Suzuki Ecstar, 309 Punkte (Weltmeister). 2. Petronas Yamaha SRT 230. 3. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 209. 4. Ducati Team 203. 5. Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 169. 6. Pramac Racing 163. 7. LCR Honda 134. 8. Red Bull KTM Tech3 127. 9. Repsol Honda Team 85. 10. Esponsorama Racing 81. 11. Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 46.