Andrea Dovizioso has survived heavy rain before easing to victory in a Valencia MotoGP which was suspended halfway through due to the shocking conditions.
This year’s runaway world champion, Marc Marquez, was among the tenpins to fall in a hugely challenging opening stanza while Valentino Rossi threw away a runner-up finish after the race restarted.
That fall meant that early pace-setter Alex Rins, who was handed back the lead when results were backdated to Lap 13 after red flags came out on Lap 15, took second.
Pol Espargaro pulled off a first ever MotoGP podium for himself and KTM despite crashing while running fourth before the stoppage, and having battled with alternate Repsol Hondas in the early stages of each part of the race.
Officials effectively created a half time break when they called a halt to proceedings as heavy rain and consequent standing water made the Circuit Ricardo Tormo treacherous.
Rins lined up with Dovizioso and Rossi to his outside on the front row for the restart and they proceeded in that order for a lap before Dovizioso blazed past on the main straight.
The factory Ducati rider was 1.5s up the road when Rossi got by Rins on Lap 7 of ‘Race 2’, with more heavy rain having come and gone.
However, having been released by the #42 Suzuki, Rossi still lost another two seconds before the rear of his Movistar Yamaha slid out from underneath him on Lap 10.
‘The Doctor’ remounted but could only rescue a 13th position finish.
His crash handed second back to Rins and elevated Pol Espargaro to third and that was how they finished.
Dovizioso bookended his season with victories, Valencia his fourth of 2018, and the Italian was once again second in the championship.
“It was a crazy race,” he noted.
“At the beginning, the first race, I didn’t have a lot of feeling, and Rins, at the start, was so fast, I couldn’t follow him.
“But step-by-step, I become a bit faster and it was very dangerous and I’m proud to not crash in the first race because there was a lot of water.
“In the second race, we did some change on the bike and we put on new tyres, and I felt so good, the bike worked very well, and I was able to push as much as I wanted and it was too much for the competitors, so it was a nice feeling to finish the championship like this.”
Pol Espargaro was overcome with joy at his and KTM’s first podium, in the Austrian marque’s second season in the premier class.
“That sounds unreal, ah f***, it isn’t real,” he smiled.
“The last lap, it’s been like a year riding a bike, it feels so long.
“Also I had Dani (Pedrosa) pushing behind (during the race) and I was pushing but at the same time I want to finish the race; even fourth, I didn’t care, because even fourth is an unbelievable position.
“But it’s… f***, I’m full proud of KTM to be here in the podium and stand with the best bikes in the world, it just makes me proud and super happy.”
Michele Pirro made it two Ducati Team entries in the top four even after a crash in the first part of the race, Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) signed off his time as a MotoGP race rider with a fifth, and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) finished sixth.
Johann Zarco clinched Independent team honours for 2018 with seventh in his last race for Tech3, and Tech3’s last race with Yamaha, while the top 10 was rounded out by Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM), Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda), and Hafizh Syahrin (Tech3 Yamaha).
With the restart bunching the 16 riders who remained of the 24 that originally started, the first part of the race turned out to be a matter of damage limitation.
Rins had won the start from the middle of the front row and headed Dovizioso and pole-sitter Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha) to the first corner.
Viñales steadily lost a bunch of positions as Pol Espargaro and Marquez argued over third position, which was resolved in favour of the 2018 world champion.
After Aleix Espargaro’s (Gresini Aprilia) early fall, there was a succession of crashes from Lap 5 onwards.
Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) was pushing hard in sixth position, heaving dropped out of the top 10 after a poor start, but went down at Turn 3.
Pirro, fifth-placed Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati), and Thomas Luthi (Marc VDS Honda) all crashed separately on Lap 6, and Pol Espargaro came unstuck a lap later.
Marquez, who had caught second placed Dovizioso, then had one of the all too common rear and slides and was flung off his Repsol Honda at Turn 9 on Lap 7.
As he did when he crashed in qualifying, the Spaniard appeared to dislocate his left shoulder again.
Andrea Iannone (Suzuki Ecstar), Franco Morbidelli (Marc VDS Honda), Viñales, and Smith, came to grief in the next five laps.
Rins had hauled his way to a lead of over four seconds but backed right off as the rain got heavier and may or may not have deliberately left the door open at Turn 11 on Lap 14.
That allowed Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi, who had started 16th but risen to third thanks in part to the carnage, to go through.
Rossi dived past his compatriot at Turn 14 but couldn’t make the move stick, before Dovizioso raised his hand in the hope of having the race suspended and his with was greeted within seconds.
While most races were entertaining in their own right, Honda came up trumps in all of the major honours in 2018, namely riders’ championship, teams’ championship, and manufacturers’ championship.
Post-season testing begins back at Valencia on Tuesday.
Race 2 results: Valencia MotoGP
|1||04||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||24:03.408|
|2||42||Alex RINS||ESP||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+2.750|
|3||44||Pol ESPARGARO||ESP||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+7.406|
|4||51||Michele PIRRO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+8.647|
|5||26||Dani PEDROSA||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+13.351|
|6||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||+32.288|
|7||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+32.806|
|8||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+33.111|
|9||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda||+36.376|
|10||55||Hafizh SYAHRIN||MAL||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+37.198|
|11||45||Scott REDDING||GBR||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+44.326|
|12||99||Jorge LORENZO||ESP||Ducati Team||Ducati||+46.146|
|13||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+52.809|
|14||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Angel Nieto Team||Ducati||+1:10.628|
|15||81||Jordi TORRES||ESP||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||+1:16.739|
|DNF||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||ESP||Angel Nieto Team||Ducati||7 Laps|
|DNS||25||Maverick VIÑALES||ESP||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||0 Lap|
|DNS||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Alma Pramac Racing||Ducati||0 Lap|
|DNS||93||Marc MARQUEZ||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||0 Lap|
|DNS||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||0 Lap|
|DNS||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||ESP||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||0 Lap|
|DNS||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Alma Pramac Racing||Ducati||0 Lap|
|DNS||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||ITA||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||0 Lap|
|DNS||12||Thomas LUTHI||SUI||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||0 Lap|
Race 1 results: Valencia MotoGP
|1||42||Alex RINS||ESP||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||22:31.583|
|2||04||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+0.749|
|3||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+1.070|
|4||26||Dani PEDROSA||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+18.244|
|5||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+21.317|
|6||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||+26.244|
|7||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||ESP||Angel Nieto Team||Ducati||+36.985|
|8||44||Pol ESPARGARO||ESP||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+37.561|
|9||45||Scott REDDING||GBR||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+41.923|
|10||55||Hafizh SYAHRIN||MAL||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+43.670|
|11||99||Jorge LORENZO||ESP||Ducati Team||Ducati||+45.668|
|12||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda||+46.197|
|13||51||Michele PIRRO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+59.903|
|14||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Angel Nieto Team||Ducati||+1:01.718|
|15||81||Jordi TORRES||ESP||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||+1:07.942|
|16||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||1 Lap|
|DNF||25||Maverick VIÑALES||ESP||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||2 Laps|
|DNF||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||ITA||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||2 Laps|
|DNF||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||5 Laps|
|DNF||93||Marc MARQUEZ||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||7 Laps|
|DNF||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Alma Pramac Racing||Ducati||8 Laps|
|DNF||12||Thomas LUTHI||SUI||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||8 Laps|
|DNF||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Alma Pramac Racing||Ducati||9 Laps|
|DNF||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||ESP||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||11 Laps|