MOTOGP: Andrea Dovizioso rules in the Spanish rain at Valencia
Andrea Dovisioso powered the factory Ducati to a sensational final MotoGP victory of the season at a rain lashed Valencia MotoGP at the 2.489 mile Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana finishing ahead of Alex Rins on the Team Suzuki Ecstar and Pol Espargaro who took the Red Bull KTM to it's first ever premier class podium.
At a meeting where there were over one hundred and fifty crashes Sunday’s 27 lap race was not one for the faint hearted as the track was awash after heavy rain all through the Moto3 and Moto2 races. As the premier class lined up the rain had eased slightly but the track was treacherous as many of the field found out. When the lights went out it was Alex Rins on the Suzuki who left the field trailing in his wake opening up a clear gap at the front. Behind the Spaniard Dovisioso was keeping the Suzuki in his sights with Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, who had a terrible qualifying starting from 16th on the grid, making his way to the front at a rapid rate in the rain. By the time the red flags went out on lap 15 with Dovizioso, Rossi and Rins all fighting for the lead both pole setter Maverick Viñales on the Movistar Yamaha and world champion Marc Marquez had joined the many fallers and were unable to join the restart over 14 laps.
With only 16 riders in the restart it was Rins who made the best start from pole but Dovisioso made his move for the lead on lap two with Rossi close behind. The leading three, gapped fourth place Espargaro by nearly three seconds with Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, having his final Grand Prix, close behind the KTM in fifth. Dovizioso was in a class of his own at the front as Rossi made his way past Rins for second before with six laps to go disaster struck the nine time world champion as he crashed out at turn 12 leaving Espargaro and KTM to claim an emotional first podium in the premier class. Ducati’s Michele Pirro was fourth home with Pedrosa saying his Grand prix farewell with a hard earned fifth. British star Bradley Smith finished eighth in his last ride for the KTM team with fellow Brit Scott Redding saying farewell to Aprilia with a season best eleventh.
“Today was a truly spectacular victory! I have finally managed to win at Valencia, which for me and Ducati has always been rather a tough track. The first race was very difficult, because Rins started off really strong. I stayed calm 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 tyre 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. It was a great way to finish the season.” Said Andrea Dovisioso.
Second place rider Alex Rins added. “ I’m very happy. In the first part of the race I was leading for twelve or thirteen laps and I pulled a good gap, but when the rain came Dovizioso and Rossi caught me. After the stoppage I had more or less the same strategy. I tried to get the best possible start and I pushed a lot because I really wanted the podium and fifth place in the in the championship. It feels great to get another podium and I hope next year to be at the front in almost all the races.”
A delighted Pol Espargaro said. “It’s unreal. I felt good all weekend in wet and dry conditions. I was playing around all weekend with a few Yamahas and I was fast; I could do good lap-times. To always be in the top eight was building my confidence up. It was wild out there. The red flag was like a ‘message’ because the bike was still working after that big crash and I said to myself ‘man, this is your opportunity, take it’. I just pushed and Valentino was so fast, super-fast. I stayed in that position and was safe, then I fought with Dani but could finally finish in third position. After this year it is unbelievable for me, for my team, wife and all the crew around me. Finally we are super-happy with the results for KTM today. You don’t know how much effort and investment they are putting in the project and for them to finish the year in those positions was amazing.”
15 year-old Can Oncu make history as youngest ever Grand Prix winner
In a 23 lap Moto3 race 15 year-old rookie Can Oncu made history by taking his KTM RS250 GP to the chequered flag on his very first attempt. Oncu rode consistently and smartly through the rain to become the youngest ever race winner, the first from Turkey and the first to triumph on his maiden GP outing in 27 years. He was joined on the podium by world champion Jorge Martin and British ace John McPhee, who took third position.
Race winner Oncu commented. “I was not taking much risk. I was riding normal. It’s a really nice feeling to write a new story as the youngest rider ever to win and to finish on the podium means I am two-times happy! In the Rookies I learned how to fight and to ride the KTM, as well as manage the races and not to crash. To be here was my dream and there are some incredible riders, incredibly fast. I’m ready to see how we will be next year.”
KTM also ruled the Moto2 race when Miguel Oliveira took the victory after race leader Alex Marquez slid out with eleven laps to go. The Spaniard did remount to finish third behind Iker Lecuona.