Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo has farewelled Yamaha in the best possible way by taking a lights-to-flag victory in the final MotoGP™ race of the year in Valencia, Spain. As far as valedictory 'speeches' go, it was one of the finest.
It was the culmination of the perfect weekend for Lorenzo, who started from pole position before escaping at the front and then holding off a late charge from compatriot and World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda). Lorenzo also set a new lap record to complete the 'full monty'.
"It has been an incredible weekend with a perfect first few laps, the pole position, the fastest lap, and the victory," said Lorenzo, fast becoming the Valencia 'King'. "I arrived here in MotoGP™ at 20 years old, taking my first pole position on my first race. After almost 10 years I leave with a pole position and a victory, I think I couldn't have given Yamaha a better present than this for its support and hard work during these years.
"During the race you spend 45 minutes completely focused on what you are doing to dominate this bike, so when you cross the line you aren't very emotional yet and you don't think too much, because you need to recover.
"After two or three minutes I started remembering the best moments in my career and also the hard moments and in parc fermé it was very emotional with my team. For sure I will throw one of my biggest and craziest parties today because it's a good day. We have to enjoy all of these experiences and especially this last moment with Yamaha."
An Italian battle between Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) decided the last podium place, and it was Iannone who eventually got the chocolates.
Maverick Vinales (Ecstar Suzuki) was fifth from Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), while last-start winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) finished seventh ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Ecstar Suzuki), Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini).
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) both crashed, while KTM – making a cameo appearance in the MotoGP™ ranks ahead of a full-time campaign in 2017 – didn't complete the distance afer a mechanical problem nobbled Finn Mika Kallio.
Aussie Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda) was 15th, and said: “This is not the result I wanted but I struggled right from the beginning of the race with a full fuel load, I just couldn’t push as hard as I wanted. The guys ahead got a gap and by the time I got some pace mid-race it was too late.
"Towards the end I struggled with wheelspin and also the downshifts into turn one. But I’m happy to bring it home in the points and go to the test on Tuesday and try some new parts for next year.”
Marquez finished the season on 298pts from Rossi (249) and Lorenzo (233), while Crutchlow was the first Independent Team rider in seventh position.
- Jorge Lorenzo, Movistar Yamaha, 45m54.228s
- Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda, +1.185s
- Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team, +6.603s
15. Jack Miller, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda, +55.625s
Pole position: Lorenzo, 1m29.401s = 161.2km/h
Fastest lap and new record: Lorenzo, 1m31.171s = 158.1km/h
Championship top 3
Marquez 298 • Rossi 249 • Lorenzo 233
A superb race – at last for the first half – as Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport), Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40) and Tom Lüthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) put on a brilliant show.
Zarco then began to pull away to sign off on his Moto2™ career in brilliant fashion, with the podium completed by Luthi and Morbidelli.
Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini) caught Rins at the end to claim fourth, while Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) filled positions 6-8.
Australia's Remy Gardner (Tasca Racing) Scuderia) was 18th, as he now prepares to join the Tech 3 team for the 2017 championship.
- Johann Zarco, Ajo Motorsport, 43m17.626s
- Tom Luthi, Garage Plus Interwetten, +3.281s
- Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS, +4.981s
18. Remy Gardner, Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2, +29.667s
Pole position: Zarco, 1m34.879s = 151.9km/h
Fastest lap: Zarco 1m35.521s = 150.9km/h
Championship top 3
Zarco 276 • Luthi 234 • Alex Rins 214
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) again underscored why he's the world champion after an unbelievable fight back through the field after being as far back as 22nd in the early stages of the race.
Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) was second, taking the title of Rookie of the Year in the process. Sky Racing Team VR46 rider Andrea Migno completed the podium.
Binder wasn't sure what happened with his KTM that forced him to slow and drop back early on.
"I opened the gas twice and the engine cut and the power came in again," Binder said. "It happened twice in two corners so I said, okay, something’s wrong. I thought maybe I was dripping oil in the track so I pulled off to the side but it looked okay, so I carried on.
"I thought ‘now it's over’ but I pushed so hard and tried to limit the mistakes. To finish my Moto3 career like this is awesome.”
- Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Ajo, 40m13.777s
- Joan Mir, Leopard Racing KTM, +0.056s
- Andrea Migno, Sky Racing Team VT46 KTM, +0.081s
Pole position: Aron Canet, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda, 1m39.261s = 145.2km/h
Fastest lap: Binder, 1m39.684s = 144.6km/h
Championship top 3
Binder 319 • Enea Bastianini 177 • Jorge Navarro 150
2017 opening round: Losail, Qatar, March 24-26