Lorenzo Clinches MotoGP World Championship Title with a Faultless Win in Valencia
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi raised their games at the season-ending Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana this afternoon to unknown heights as they battled for the Championship Title. Lorenzo was unflappable as he defended first place from his pursuers from start to finish to secure a brilliant 40th MotoGP Grand Prix victory of his career and take the Championship Title by five points. Team-mate Valentino Rossi also had a phenomenal ride, cutting though the field like a knife through butter, to take a hard-fought fourth place and the runner-up spot for the 2015 season.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo proved once again his racing pedigree, taking a superb win at the final round of the season at Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo as he fended off two trailing rivals to the very end of the race. Valentino Rossi followed up two tension-filled races with an equally thrilling 30-lap sprint and delighted his fans with one of the strongest performances of his career. He rode from 26th on the grid to take a superb fourth place and finished the season as the World Championship runner-up.
Lorenzo started from pole after his perfect lap during yesterdays' qualifying and delivered the same standard today. He had a perfect start to take the hole shot with Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa following. Lapping consistent mid 1'31s for most of the race, the Spaniard slowly built a gap of over 0.7s to his closest rival, but as the race progressed towards the midway stage, Marquez was able to win some time and slowly inched closer.
Suddenly the atmosphere changed as the possible outcome of the race became wide open again, however Lorenzo remained unshaken. Despite pressure from Marquez, and Pedrosa who started to close in with seven laps remaining, he rode like a true champion, not allowing his compatriots to make him lose his concentration for even a second.
There was close to nothing between the current and the soon to be World Champion, but still Lorenzo managed to hold his rival off. As Pedrosa had a second wind, he and Marquez started to fight amongst themselves. This was all Lorenzo needed to break away for a second time. Immediately acting on the situation he pulled away slightly while going into the final lap. Marquez and Pedrosa were still following his every move, but the Yamaha rider's pace was too fast for them to make an impression before Lorenzo crossed the line for a final time with a 0.263s advantage.
Team-mate Rossi started from the back of the grid in 26th place and rode the opening lap of a lifetime, completing the first lap in 15th place to climb up to ninth position at the end of the third lap as Iannone crashed out. He soon closed the more than one second gap to fellow Yamaha rider Bradley Smith, while setting a personal best lap of 1'31.820, but the Italian was unable to make his move on the Brit straight away.
Rossi let his experience do the talking and waited one and a half laps before passing smoothly and soon moved up to seventh just a few minutes later as Petrucci, who was in front of him, ran wide. Next in line were the Espargaró brothers, lapping 0,8s in front of the flying Italian. He managed to close up to Pol Espargaró with 21 laps remaining and overtook him just a few corners later, making his brother the next target.
Rossi was unable to make it stick on his first attempt but the Spaniard had no answer to the nine-time World Champion's second pass. Dovizioso followed and was soon devoured by the Doctor, giving him fourth place in the provisional results, just five points short of a title win.
With 14 laps left to change the fate of the 2015 World Championship, Rossi now faced the task of bridging a 11.488s gap to Dani Pedrosa. He pushed as hard as he could, but the ride to the front of the field had asked too much of his tyres for him to be able to match the lap times of the top three riders. Though Lorenzo's pace slowed slightly as he battled the riders in second and third place, Rossi was unable to make up any ground and took the flag for the last time in the 2015 season in fourth place, 19.789s from the front.
Despite Rossi's brave performance, it was Lorenzo who gave Yamaha the Rider Title. Besides sealing the Triple Crown and filling the first two spots in the championship, Yamaha also gets to celebrate a strong performance from Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Bradley Smith. He took sixth in the race, just one spot behind team-mate Pol Esparagó, to ensure sixth place in the championship as the top satellite rider.
Race: 1st / 45'59.364 / 30 laps, Championship: 1st / 330 points
"There was a lot of pressure, especially at the end of the race, because I had been pushing all the time and I was quite tired from pushing so much. Dani recovered so much time and so many metres. He was at 0.5s at the middle of the race and he recovered everything, so I knew I had two riders behind me and that, if they overtook me, I would lose the championship, so it was a very difficult situation. I also felt that the right side of the tyre was destroyed, I was moving so much and I had to go very slowly entering right corners, so I couldn't keep the 1'31-high up and it became 1'32-low. I also couldn't see the pit board or how many laps there were left to the end. On the last lap I passed the last corner and saw the chequered flag and I couldn't believe that I won the race and the championship in the last moment. It's such a relaxing and enjoyable moment. I was crying on the honour lap, it's such a fantastic day for us. I equal Wayne Rainey, I equal Kenny Roberts Sr, I equal Ayrton Senna in the motorsport world with these three premier class World Titles, it's unbelievable! We have to enjoy this day, this week, because you can't often live this emotion.
"I've ridden with Valentino, Marc, Casey and Dani on the track. For me these are the best riders in the 21st century. The first championship title is the first one and thus very special, but to be in the championship with these four legends on track was very important to me. I was always behind in the championship recovering points and it's a special moment in the last race to become champion, so the championship couldn't have had a more emotional ending.
"I don't want to think about 2016 now. We will see later during the test, or after the test. Now I just want to enjoy it with the team like crazy, to feel this moment completely with no end, because it's not easy to repeat and it's not easy to become champion again. We have to enjoy it completely now, tonight, this week, next week, this is for sure!
"I was giving everything I have, the rhythm was very low, but I didn't give up. I knew the importance to put everything on the track and I did, like with yesterday's pole position."
Race: 4th / +19.789 / 30 laps, Championship: 2nd / 325 points
"We built this season from the first race and it was a great season, I was always competitive and I never made any mistakes. I thought after Motegi that I had the potential to win the championship, but unfortunately from the race at Phillip Island something changed."
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"Jorge has once again proved that he is untouchable when he is on form, and deserves this fifth title. He pushed to the maximum this year, always challenging and never giving up. I'm really proud to be part of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team and share in this amazing moment. Of course it takes more than just a rider to win a title so I have to thank all the crew members who have put in all their efforts and professionalism this season to make victory a reality. On the other side of the garage Vale has also shown that he is still one of the best riders in the world and a key protagonist in the title challenge. His ride from 26th to fourth was incredible. To have two such incredible riders fighting together for the title is an amazing thing to see, not just for us but for the fans across the world. Jorge, Vale and the entire team really deserve the Triple Crown they fought so hard for, the perfect gift for all the fans who support us in our racing."
Espargaro powers to 5th in season finale at Valencia
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro stormed to 5th today to close the year strongly in front of his home crowd of over 110,000 people at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. The young Spaniard commenced his battle from the third row and completed the first lap in 8th, whilst attempting to jump past the riders in front. He set into his fierce race pace and after setting a series of consistent lap times, he was up to 6th by the mid point of the event. Afterwards he eventually soared across the finish line in 5th to clinch the leading satellite honours at the last round of the 2015 MotoGP season thus completing a positive weekend. The solid result today saw Espargaro overtake Danilo Petrucci n in the championship standings and finish his second year in the premier class in 9th position.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith fought determinedly to conclude the 30 lap sprint right behind his teammate at the Ricardo Tormo circuit today. The young Briton began the GP from the rear of the second row on the grid and bolted forward when the lights went out before quickly locking into his formidable race rhythm. He then started his ascent, before brilliantly diving past Andrea Dovizioso, his championship rival, on lap 26. The fight continued and Smith carried on his pace as he diced right until the chequered flag but finished ahead and sealed 6th as well as the leading satellite rider position in the World Championship standings.
Race: 5th / +26.004 / 30 laps, Championship: 9th / 114 points
"Finally, I am pleased with the result and I'm happy to end the season like this. It was a good GP and I completed the race just behind the factory riders so we can't complain, plus it's a really positive feeling to close the year in this way. We had to face some difficulties during the season but we worked hard and it seems that we found a solution for some of them here. I was struggling a bit with the front tyre when running on full fuel load. However, in the race, as soon as the fuel level decreased and the laps passed by, I found my rhythm and in the end, I managed to overtake Dovizioso even though the Ducati is a beast on the straight! I passed him a few times and initially it seemed that I couldn't open a gap, but I was finally able to post a series of rapid lap times which enabled me to escape and then ride comfortably until the end of the GP. It has been a tough year and probably one of the most disappointing ones in the World Championship for me. We weren't able to make the most out of all of the races and it goes without saying that it was quite frustrating at times. Yet, the team has always been behind me and has given me a lot of support. We have a good feeling internally which we kept even during the difficult times and this is the most important thing. Of course, we may have had a few disagreements, but this is what happens when you want to grow and improve. So I must say thanks to them for always supporting me, and now, we will try to advance next year. I hope all of the bad luck that we had this season won't repeat itself in 2016 and I am sure we can have a strong year together."
Race: 6th / +28.835 / 30 laps, Championship: 6th / 181 points
"It has been a fantastic season and almost perfect after completing all of the 18 rounds, even though I'm a bit disappointed to miss out on our target of finishing as the leading satellite rider today. However, I can't be hard on myself as I ended up in the top six and I collected a total of 181 points over the year. I am very proud of this, but I am especially pleased with my performance in the second half of the season. In all honesty, after the summer break I think I made another step forward with my qualifying as well as some of my race performances. Anyway, this track wasn't easy for me and we struggled a bit all weekend, but to be there fighting in the second group was satisfying. We have to look back on all of the ups and downs of the year and then improve on the negatives because we have to do a better job next season. In this sport, you can't just stay at the same level, so we need to see how we can make another step forward. 2016 will be a new challenge and experience, but I'm already very excited to begin on Tuesday at the test. I'm also looking forward to a bit of a rest as it's been a demanding year with all of the work that we've been doing for MotoGP, plus the Suzuka 8 Hours as well. I want to give a big thanks to all of the team who did a fantastic job. Although I didn't make any mistakes, they didn't either with their jobs and to make a Yamaha YZR-M1 work for 18 races without any issues, highlights the great job they have done. I am proud of everyone at Tech3 and thank you to all. In addition, I also want to say thanks to Bridgestone for all of their support and it has been fantastic for me towork with them for the past three years. They have done a tremendous job and for every season that I have been in MotoGP, they have upped their performance continuously, especially this year. It would have been easy to just roll out and enjoy the season, but they came with even better material and they've set the level very high in MotoGP."
Baz confirms the second place in the Open Championship
Loris Baz ends his rookie season in second place in the Open. The Frenchman has collected four class wins in Mugello, Assen, Misano and Brno on his Yamaha Forward bike and thanks to the 28 points gathered he ended 5 points away from Barbera in the standings.
Baz, who started from 15th on the grid, struggled from the early laps because of the low grip and lack of confidence with the rear of his Yamaha Forward and was forced to give way some positions to his opponnents. The Frenchman crossed the line 19th, the third place among the Open.
Toni Elias placed 20th, just behind his team-mate. 24th at the start, the Spaniard, with Forward Racing since the Grand Prix of Aragon, closed the season in Valencia and got the 27th place in the standings overall thanks to the two points achieved at Sepang.
Race: 19th / +1'04.339 / 30 laps, Championship: 17th / 28 points
"It was a difficult race. Unfortunately since the first laps I struggled to find the right confidence with the rear and was not able to keep the pace of the other Open bikes. I had little grip, but I was able to reach the finish line. Too bad for not being able to win the Open title, we were close to the top of the category for much of the season, but at the end I lost something. Overall I can say I'm happy with this first rookie season: I struggled at the start, but I continued to work hard and thanks to all the team I achieved my goals ahead of schedule".
Race: 20th / +1'04.413 / 30 laps, Championship: 27th / 2 points
"A difficult season is over for me: I did not have a bike but with the team I had the chance to return to MotoGP. I'm happy and I want to thank Giovanni and Forward Racing for this beautiful opportunity which opens new perspectives. Compared with the competition I can't say I'm 100% satisfied. I struggled at the start, I had little confidence with the full tank, but after a few laps I found myself fighting with Di Meglio, Laverty and West. I kept my pace and at the end I finished very close to Loris."