VALENCIA. In a stunningly dramatic and tense #FinalShowdown at Valencia, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took his sixth world title and fourth MotoGP™ World Championship despite a huge front end moment into Turn 1 and a run off track, coming home third in the race to defend his crown. Title rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) similarly suffered a run off from P4, but the Italian was unable to save it and sadly crashed out of contention in the race and Championship.
At the front, the race was a duel to the line between Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Johann Zarco – with the race decided in favour of the Spaniard on final lap as Pedrosa pounced and defended to perfection for his second victory of the year. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) put in an impressive rookie ride into fourth, ahead of Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) after a more difficult race for the ‘Doctor’. Iannone dropped back slightly after a run off at Turn 1 to take sixth, ahead of a great final race with EG 0,0 Marc VDS for Jack Miller in P7. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) moved up after crashing out in Q1 and qualifying outside the top ten to cross the line in P8, with Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) putting in another solid wildcard appearance to come home in ninth. Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) also impressed, locking out the top ten.
Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounded out the Austrian factory’s first season in the premier class in P11, and it was a tough weekend and final race of 2017 for third-placed in the Championship Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), as the Spaniard came home in P12. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing), Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) and Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing) completed the points in the #FinalShowdown, with the dust settling around the dramatic final race as the flag flew.
Crash for Aleix Espargaró
With a double crash – first Aleix Espargaró in the early stages of the race and then Sam Lowes toward the end – the Valencia race ended, the last MotoGP round of 2017.
Aleix, after starting from the third row, was pushing to stay in the top ten and to stay in contact with the best when he crashed on turn one during the fourth lap. In any case, it would have been a difficult race for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Spanish rider who, upon returning after surgery to his left hand, had to reckon with a pesky bout of bronchitis throughout the weekend.
The double zero compromises Aprilia’s MotoGP season which saw the RS-GP growing consistently until achieving performance worthy of the top positions with Espargaró. On several occasions, Aleix came close to a top five finish and the bike made significant progress in qualifying, almost earning a spot on the front row several times and taking the fourth best time in the GP of Japan, the best grid position for an Aprilia in MotoGP history. In any case, 2017 seems to have laid the foundation for development which, without any break, will begin on Tuesday when Aleix Espargaró and Scott Redding will be on the Aprilia V4 machines during the tests scheduled at Valencia. Much more than just a sneak peek of the 2018 season.
Aleix Espargaró: DNF
“I struggled with the front end feeling throughout the weekend and in the early stages of the race with a full tank, the difficulty was even more evident. I tried to stay calm at the start, but apparently I wasn’t calm enough. I made a mistake that I am particularly disappointed about, because we deserved to finish the season in a better way. Now I want to think about 2018, where we will need to continue improving the RS-GP and our approach to the races. Beyond the results, which do not fully reflect our work, this season I had fun riding and I feel very much at home with the team. I have a lot of confidence in the Aprilia engineers and I know that they will put together an excellent technical package for us."