Valencia Preview: Championships to decide in Valencian finale

by Ryan Lilly

The MotoGP World Championship hits it’s climax this weekend, as riders take to the tight and twisty Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

There are still titles to play for as the MotoGP paddock heads to its final destination of the 2019 season, with both the Team Championship and the Independent riders titles up for grabs. 

After trailing Marc Marquez in Sepang, Andrea Dovizioso’s third-place finish was enough to hold onto the lead of the Team Championship ahead of the final round, as Repsol Honda trail the Bologna Bullets by just two points. 

The Final Tour

Valencia is known for its quirky layout, with the track constantly turning back on its self. Slow corners leading onto more slow corners, riders have to be pinpoint accurate at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit.

A long fast front straight see’s MotoGP bikes hit 330kmh before braking hard into turn 1. The opening left-hander is a perfect place to pull off an overtaking spot, but you have to be accurate, if not you will run wide allowing your opponent to repass into turn 2, the first of the low-speed corners.

The hairpin-like left-hander, famously known as Doohan Hairpin, has been the turning point in MotoGP races, Casey Stoner highsided off his Ducati during the Warm-Up lap ahead of the 2009 Grand Prix. 

A few years before that, Valentino Rossi made a costly mistake in 2006, crashing out of the race, handing the World Championship to the late Nicky Hayden.

Turn 3 is a quick left-hander before braking into another tricky right-hander, the first on the circuit. Cold tyre crashes are not uncommon at turn 4 and turn 5. Jorge Lorenzo’s debut season with Ducati ended with a crash at turn 5.

Turn 6 is another difficult corner, it’s important to get a good exit onto the long straight towards turn 8. A quick flick left before braking into the downhill, off-camber turn 8, which is another corner known for catching riders out.

From there, it’s back to the right side of the tyre, the ever-tightening and slowing turn 10/11 is another famous place for cold tyre crashes, who can forget Jorge Lorenzo highsiding out of the 2012 Valencian Grand Prix whilst rushing to try and clear James Ellison, despite having a 5 second lead over compatriot Dani Pedrosa.

Jump on board with the Six-times MotoGP champion Marc Marquez for a lap around Valencia

Turn 12 is the most treacherous corner on the circuit, a quick approach into the tight right-hander and a non-forgiving exit will easily catch out the best of riders. During last years rain-hit Grand Prix, most of the crashes during the MotoGP race were on the exit to turn 12.

Ending the lap is a tyre punishing left-hander, ‘Nicky Hayden Corner’ which see’s MotoGP riders spin the rear tyre at full lean angle over the top of the hill before grabbing the brakes for one final time, hitting the apex and looking up the start and finish straight preparing for another physical lap of the Valencian circuit. 

The Battle For Team Supremacy Continues

Marc Marquez and 2018 Valencian Grand Prix winner Andrea Dovizioso will once again go head to head in a championship battle, as they are joined by Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda) and Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) to battle for the Team Championship. 

Going into the final round of the season, Ducati leads Repsol Honda by just two points, but as we’ve seen in the past, anything can happen on a cold November’s afternoon at Valencia. 

It’s not the first time these two manufacturers have gone head to head at the final round after Dovizioso fought Marquez for the 2017 title, a race that ended with Dovizioso crashing out after running off the circuit at turn 8, and another unbelievable save from Marquez at turn 1.

Quartararo Eyes Debut Win

Fabio Quartararo has one last chance of bagging his maiden MotoGP win in his debut season.

After a difficult weekend in Sepang, Fabio’s hopes lie on Valencia, a circuit that Fabio has finished in the top ten twice at, in the Moto2 class.

Quartararo also has the Independent Riders Championship on the line, the Frenchman leads Australia’s Jack Miller by 23 points, meaning if Quartararo were to retire from the final round, Miller needs to put his Pramac Ducati on the top step in order to seal the crown.

Quartararo’s debut season has seen ‘El Diablo’ stand on the podium 6 times, missing out on three possible wins at Misano, Thailand and Japan. 

Can Quartararo see off his debut season in style, by standing on the top step in Valencia?

Quartararo looks set to take the Independent Riders’ title at Valencia. (Credit: MotoGP.com)

Vinales Aims For The Triple As Rossi Hopes For Podium Return

Maverick Vinales will head to Valencia with the mindset of making it three wins in 2019, after his most recent dominant performance at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Vinales’ 2018 Grand Prix ended with a highside at turn 13, ultimately losing third in the overall standings to teammate Valentino Rossi.

Vinales is in danger of losing third once again, as the Monster Energy Yamaha rider lies just 7 points ahead of Alex Rins.

On the other side of the garage, Valentino Rossi looks to end his season on a high, by scoring his first podium since the American Grand Prix back in April.

Valencia isn’t one of ‘The Doctor’s favourite circuits, last standing on the podium in the 2014 Grand Prix. 

Rossi has only ever stood on the top step twice at Valencia, so ending his 45 race-long drought looks unlikely for the 40-year-old Italian.

Zarco or Lorenzo? Who will have their last dance on the Honda?

Johann Zarco will have what could be his final ride on the Honda this weekend, that is if five-time World Champion Jorge Lorenzo doesn’t hang up his helmet at the end of the Valencia test. 

Being brought in from Australia onwards, Zarco has finished one of the two races participated in, since his departure from KTM

Zarco was on for a top-eight finish at Sepang, before being brought down by an overambitious Joan Mir in the closing stages of the race, but was that enough to warrant a ride in 2020?

In the Repsol camp, Jorge Lorenzo has been at the heart of the lastest rumour mill, suggesting the Mallorcan could retire at the end of the season if he doesn’t feel any better with the 2020 Honda.

In what has been his worst season to date, Lorenzo lies 19th in the overall standings, 370 points adrift of his World Championship winning teammate.

Lorenzo goes well around Valencia, however, as the Spartan holds the lap record set in the 2016 Qualifying session, with a lap time of 1’29.401. He also has the most wins at Valencia, joint first with Dani Pedrosa, sitting on 4 wins each.

Action for the final round of the season kicks off on Friday 15th November, with MotoGP heading out for their first Practice session at 09:55 local time.

Qualifying takes place at 14:10 on Saturday afternoon ahead of lights out on Sunday at 14:00.

Who will end the 2019 World Championship on a high?

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