The 2018 MotoGP season ended with a trio of dramatic wet races in Valencia today, with Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso winning a dramatic crash filled finale that had to be stopped and restarted due to a deluge of rain half way through the original running.
Suzuki’s Alex Rins had made the early running in the original race start, as a number of leading runners – including Maverick Vinales and Marc Marquez crashed out in the treacherous conditions. The Spaniard had been caught by Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi as conditions worsened, and on the 14thlap of the planned 27 the red flag was shown as the track surface had become unsafe.
A short delay followed and, as the rain eased, the race was restarted over 14 laps, with the grid positions determined by the order at the time of the red flag. From the lights, it was the same trio at the front, with Dovizioso holding a small edge. Rossi slipped out of second with four laps to go, handing Rins his third second place of the season. Third went to KTM’s Pol Espargaro, who gave the Austrian manufacturer its first podium finish in the premier class. The Spanish rider had been in good form all weekend and was handed a lifeline after he had crashed in the first running of the race and was running mid pack after remounting. Team-mate Bradley Smith, running in his last race for KTM, was another saved by the stoppage. He had also crashed in the original race running but was able to restart and finish eighth, his best result of the season.
“Today’s was truly a spectacular victory,” said Dovizioso. “I have finally managed to win at Valencia, which for me and for Ducati has always been rather a tough track. The first race was very difficult, because Rins started off really strong. I stayed clam however and reeled him in, but Rossi was also recovering and he was very quick so I had to manage the situation while the rain was increasing lap after lap. In the second race we managed to make all the difference because we were able to use a new tyre we hadn’t used in the morning warm-up as well as making a small change to the set-up. I’m really pleased with the way we worked together with the team and to have been able to give them this win, which really helps cheer everyone up. It was a great way to finish the season!”
Scott Redding also made it to the finish to record his best of the season, 11th. The Valencia race marked the popular Gloucestershire rider’s final outing in the MotoGP paddock, as he will be transferring to the Paul Bird Motorsport team in British superbikes next year.
Espargaro’s third place capped a memorable weekend for the Red Bull KTM squad, who had earlier captured both the Moto2 and Moto3 races, which were also held in difficult conditions.
Portugese rider Miguel Oliveria gave the Austrian manufacturer the honours in Moto2, his last race in the class before moving to MotoGP and the last intermediate class race to be held using Honda CBR600RR engines. Next year Moto2 moves into a new era with three-cylinder Triumph motors being used as the control powerplant.
Earlier, 15-year-old wild-card Can Oncu made history when he won the Moto3 race. The youngster was given a wild-card ride for the Red Bull KTM squad as a reward for winning the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and stunned by taking a debut win. Oncu’s win makes him the first Turkish rider to win a motorcycle Grand Prix and the youngest ever GP winner, at 15 years and 119 days, ironically taking the honour from previous holder Redding, who was 15 years and 170 days old when he won the 2008 British 125cc Grand Prix at Donington Park. Britain’s John McPhee took third in the Moto3 race to move up to 12thin the final championship standings.
Valencia also saw the inaugural British Talent Cup decided, with 17-year-old Scot Rory Skinner taking the title with two second places.