Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana, weekend preview: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
The fans at the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana will gather to salute double MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez this weekend, with the battle for the runner-up spot between Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo to be settled at the 2014 season finale.
This year will be the 16th Valencia GP, which has been held every year since the first visit in 1999 and indeed this is the 13th successive year that the Ricardo Tormo circuit has hosted the final race of the season.
Last year Marquez arrived at the Spanish track for the final round looking to become the youngest ever premier class World Champion and this time he arrives in a more relaxed mood, having made history this season with his incredible performances to become the youngest ever back-to-back title winner at the top level.
The win by Marquez in Malaysia at the penultimate round was his 12th victory this year, equaling the record for most wins in the premier class in a single season, held by Mick Doohan since 1997. Another triumph would see Marquez take the record outright, with the Repsol Honda rider having already also set a record of 13 premier class poles in a season last time out at Sepang.
Spanish riders have won the last 10 MotoGP races on Spanish soil and the last non-Spanish rider to win a MotoGP race in Spain was Casey Stoner at Jerez in 2012.
The task for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s nine time World Champion Rossi is to end that run, which would also see him clinch second place in the 2014 World Championship over his teammate Lorenzo, who trails him by 12 points as they head to Valencia.
Meanwhile, Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa is out of the race for second but could well be a contender for victory on Sunday. Pedrosa is the most successful rider at the Valencia circuit with six wins, three in MotoGP, two in 250cc, and one in the 125cc class. No other rider has had more than three GP wins at the Valencia circuit.
Since the introduction of the four-stroke MotoGP formula in 2002, Honda has been the most successful manufacturer at Valencia with seven wins, whilst Yamaha has had three and Ducati two.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) will do his best to add to the Italian manufacturer’s Valencia win tally, with the Italian rider set to race alongside his British colleague Cal Crutchlow for the last time this weekend. Crutchlow will head to the CWM-LCR Honda Team for 2015 and in the post Valencia test next week he will get his first ride with his new squad.
Sunday’s race will also see the battle for sixth place overall come to a head, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammates Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith, in addition to Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP), all in contention.
Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) still has an outside chance of taking sixth but it would require a race win from the Italian on his return from injury, after he missed the Sepang contest due to a severe contusion to his left arm. Pol Espargaro will have checks on his injured foot this week but is expected to be fit to race.
Only two riders have competed at all 15 previous Grand Prix events at the Valencia circuit. Rossi is one of them and Randy de Puniet is the other, with the Frenchman set to extend that run of appearances with a wild card ride for Suzuki as the Japanese factory prepares to return to MotoGP in 2015.
Having already clinched the Moto2™ World title in a dominant fashion Tito Rabat arrives at the final race of the year with an opportunity to go in search of another victory in front of the noisy home crowd at the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana.
Rabat has already attained a total of 326 points in the World Championship this year and if he finishes in 13th place or better in Valencia he will set a new record highest points’ total in the intermediate class of Grand Prix racing. That record is currently held by Marc Marquez who scored 328 points in winning the Moto2 World title in 2012 over the course of a 17 round season, though this year there are 18 races in total.
Rabat has also finished on the podium 13 times so far in 2014 and another top three finish at the final race of the year in Valencia means he will equal the record of 14 podiums in a season in the intermediate class, also set by Marquez in 2012.
On the other side of the Marc VDS Racing Team pit box, Rabat’s colleague Mika Kallio has amassed a total of 289 points so far this year, which is already the greatest ever points’ total than any rider has achieved in finishing second in the intermediate class World Championship. Kallio’s performances this year have been commendable and he has made Rabat work extremely hard to take the title.
Meanwhile, Moto2’s remarkable Rookie of the Year Maverick Viñales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), who is still only 19 years-old and is still the reigning Moto3™ World Champion, took the 16th victory of his Grand Prix career in Malaysia. Only three riders have scored more than 16 GP wins before reaching the age of 20: Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi.
That is good company to aim to be keeping and Viñales will join them in the premier class next year, though before he does he will strive for another win, to make it four victories in his last five Moto2 races before he moves up to MotoGP™.
Behind Viñales in the standings an intriguing battle for fourth overall will be settled on Sunday with Swiss compatriots Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Sitag) and Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert) both keen to finish ahead of each other.
The 2014 Moto3™ World Championship title battle goes down to the final event of the year with just 11 points separating standings leader Alex Marquez and Jack Miller, as they prepare for Valencia.
Miller’s victory at his home race in Australia and his second place in Malaysia have seen him fight his way back into contention for the title at the last race of the year. Marquez still has the advantage though and will have a passionate home crowd behind him on Sunday.
Of the several possible scenarios on Sunday with regard to the championship title, Miller winning the race would mean he would become World Champion if Marquez does not finish on the podium.
If Miller finishes second then Marquez needs to finish sixth or better to clinch the title, whilst if Miller finishes third then Marquez needs to finish 10th or better to become World Champion.
There are other potential results which would also give Marquez the title and if Miller does not finish in the top five then the Spaniard would also be this year’s Moto3™ championship winner.
Both Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Marquez and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miller will bid farewell to the lightweight class on Sunday – Marquez moving up to Moto2™ in 2015 and Miller heading straight up to MotoGP™. Both are desperate to do so as World Champion.
This is the seventh time that the lightweight class World title has been settled in Valencia since it became the final event on the Grand Prix calendar in 2002.
Last year with five points separating Luis Salom, Alex Rins and Maverick Viñales any of the three could have won the World title in Valencia with a race victory, irrespective of where their rivals finished. Salom’s chances disappeared when he crashed on the 15th lap and the battle between Rins and Viñales went down to the final corner, with Viñales taking the win to clinch the title.
This year Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Rins is aiming to clinch third overall in the standings, with Sepang race winner Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG) 14 points behind him in fourth going into the final round.