Original article by Daniel Smith – MOTO Contributor
Last Weekend’s #ValenciaGP, the 18th and final MotoGP race of 2017, was filled with drama, although who was going to be crowned world champion at the end of the race never really seemed in doubt.
Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez only needed to finish 11th to win his fourth title in five years. Despite coming so close to crashing while leading with five laps to go, Marquez had little to worry about as his title rival, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, simply did not have the pace to run at the front of the race and record the win he needed to have any chance of winning his first premier class championship.
Marquez’s heart-in-mouth moment at turn one sent him on a lengthy off-track excursion and resulted in him rejoining the track in fifth. However, he would finish the race in third after crashes by Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati) and Dovizioso, who, unfortunately and almost unfairly, ended the best season of his career in the gravel after pushing too hard once he saw Marquez’s mishap. Lorenzo caused controversy by seemingly ignoring team orders telling him to let Dovizioso through, but his actions ended up having no impact on the final standings as Marquez did more than enough to defend his title, and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Johann Zarco (Tech 3) were too strong all race long at the front.
Pedrosa and Zarco had a hugely entertaining battle for the win over the final three laps, but it was largely overlooked due to the drama unfolding behind them. The former got the better of the latter, leaving Zarco without the magical win to round-off his rookie season, but he has cemented his place as one of the most entertaining riders in the championship and will only get better heading into next season.
Alex Rins (Suzuki) continued his extremely impressive late season form by coming home in fourth, the best MotoGP result of his young career. Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi was fifth after deciding to ride a 2016 YZR-M1 as a result of the factory team’s continuing struggles over the second half of the season. The bike swap highlights just how disappointing the 2017 season was for Yamaha, as they missed out on at least second in the riders’ championship for the first time since 2007.
Andrea Iannone recorded his third top six in the last four races as Suzuki look to have turned a corner heading into the off-season. Jack Miller was a strong seventh in his Marc VDS swansong, narrowly beating his good friend Cal Crutchlow (LCR) at the line. Ducati test rider Michele Pirro was ninth, and Tito Rabat (Marc VDS) rounded out the top ten.
Another season is in the books, and the Marc Marquez train just keeps on rolling. The Spaniard has become the youngest ever four-time MotoGP champion, and he does not look to be slowing down one bit. Unless the likes of Yamaha and Ducati can find that bit extra during winter testing, it could be another champagne-soaked year for the 24 year-old in 2018, and not many people would bet against him making it three titles in a row right now.
Valencia MotoGP Results
1. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda 46 minutes 8.125 seconds
2. Johann Zarco (Fra) Yamaha +0.337s
2017 MotoGP Standings
1. Marc Marquez (Spa) Honda 298 points
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Ducati 261