2018 Valencia MotoGP – Dovizioso masters tricky conditions
19th Nov 2018 6:12 pm
After a red flag, Dovizioso, Rins and Espargaro took the podium in the final race of the season.
Italian rider, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati team) won the incident-packed 2018 Valencia GP. It had been a difficult race weekend for the riders as heavy rains lashed the racetrack. Maverick Vinales managed the dicey conditions well to grab pole position. However, it was Suzuki rider Alex Rins, who made a great start to grab the race lead. It also started to rain heavily as the race commenced, and this meant track conditions deteriorated further. Rins remained unfazed and started clocking some blistering quick lap times, extending his lead to over 3.5sec in just three laps. Another rider who was making swift progress was Valentino Rossi, who was up in seventh place after qualifying in 16th position. However, his Yamaha teammate was struggling and was passed by Andrea Dovizioso, Marc Marquez and KTN rider Pol Espargaro.
With track conditions getting more and more difficult with each passing lap, many riders started crashing, including Jack Miller, Danilo Petrucci, Marquez, Pol Espargaro and Michelle Pirro. The spray of water from the bikes started getting thicker with increasing intensity of the rain, and this resulted in lap times falling down drastically. Rins was struggling and he was soon shadowed by the Italian duo of Dovizioso and Rossi. Vinales was the latest addition to the crash list as he got thrown off the Yamaha M1 after a nasty highside, and was followed by Andrea Iannone and Aleix Espargaro. Rins couldn’t get proper grip and ran wide, which allowed Dovizioso and Rossi to pounce on him. As the Ducati rider crossed the finish line, leading the race, he started waving to the marshals to get them to stop the race due to the treacherous conditions. Soon after, the red flags started flashing and the race was stopped.
Grid positions were selected based on standings at the end of lap 13, which meant the front row consisted of Rins, Dovizioso and Rossi. The break also allowed riders to setup their bike better and the riders who still had the soft tyre option with them went for it.
Race 2 started with 16 riders lined up on the Grid. Alex Rins, once again, took the lead but it wasn’t long before Dovizioso managed to take his place. Rossi and Rins were battling it out for second and the old fox managed to pass the Spanish rider. However, Dovizioso was flying with new set of soft tyres and had a lead of over six seconds on Rossi. Yamaha rider Rossi was pushing hard to catch-up, resulting in the rear of his bike sliding and him hitting the deck hard. This was the second consecutive occasion that the MotoGP legend crashed out from a race while being in contention for a podium finish.
With Rossi crashing, Dovi relaxed his pace and managed to come back home safely to clinch an impressive win, which was Ducati’s 50th MotoGP victory. Rins crossed the finish line in a lonely second, and with Rossi crashing, the final step on the rostrum went to Pol Espargaro, who had rejoined the race after crashing. It was Espargaro’s and the Factory KTM team’s first podium finish, and it was an outburst of emotions in the orange garage. There was no fairytale ending for Honda rider Dani Pedrosa in his final MotoGP outing of his career, as he finished in fifth position. The 2018 season of MotoGP was an entertaining one for both, the riders and the fans. With many rider switching teams and new faces coming into the fray, the 2019 MotoGP season has the making of being yet another intense season of premier class racing.