Having only recently returning from injured, as he had fractured vertebrae during Free Practice ahead of his home MotoGP in Misano, Ducati Team rider Andrea Iannone worked hard to get a good result at the MotoGP season finale at the Gran Premio Motul de la Communitant Valenciana, to thank the Italian team for the time he has had with them up until now.
Many changes in the paddock due to Lorenzo switching to Ducati
During the season, a lot of riders contracts were coming to the end of their two year term, while some opted to remain with their teams, Jorge Lorenzo opted to move to the Ducati Team. Someone out of Andrea Dovizioso and Iannone had to be let go, and they made the hard decision to release Iannone.
Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Maverick Vinales was offered a contract replacing Lorenzo at Movistar Yamaha which he accepted, and so when a contract with Team Suzuki Ecstar was offered to Iannone, he gladly signed up. The provisional entry lists for the three classes were recently released.
Iannone set out to pay back his team with a great result
This mean that his time with the Italian manufacturer was going to come to an end at the Valencian MotoGP, and having only returned early from his rehabilitation at the previous round in Sepang where he crashed out, a battered Iannone set out to do as well as he could in the season finale.
He qualified to seventh and started the race from the front of the third row on the grid. He got a fantastic start, and as record breaking pole position man Lorenzo, pulled away from the grid with Vinales in tow having got a strong start, Iannone was able to surge to the front and slotted into second after he braked late into turn one of the race.
Iannone stayed tucked in tight behind Lorenzo as the two appeared to push and pull away from the rest of the pack. It stayed like this for several laps until Lorenzo was able to break away from Iannone, and Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi, managed to eventually get past Vinales and caught the Italian up.
Iannone battled his way throughout the race
Battles commenced on track, Iannone had to take on Rossi, Vinales and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda). Despite retaliating quickly to any moves made on him, and using the power of the Ducati to his advantage, especially down the straights, he soon ended up in third as Marquez had made his way through the traffic and began his pursuit of Lorenzo.
Iannone continued pushing, but on the penultimate lap, Rossi made one last stint attack on the Italian when he made a mistake one of the right-handed turns. Iannone again retaliated and then managed to pull away from Rossi and keep him off his back for the rest of the race.
Iannone crossed the line in third on his last race for the factory Ducati Team claiming the final spot on the podium. The 16 points he claimed at the season finale meant that he finished the 2016 championship in ninth on 112 points, as the second Ducati in the rankings behind his teammate Dovizioso who finished fifth.
Before he returned to parc ferme, absolutely exhausted and emotional from the race and the situation, he pulled up at the side of the track to celebrate, and he received a t-shirt from a helper which he had had prepared thanking his team for the last two years; with the team he has won one race in Austria, and made it to the podium on six other occasions, once finishing second, and five times finishing third.
Ducati will always remain a part of Iannone’s heart
Iannone described the Valencia GP as “a great race” as he had “got a really good start” and then commenced in “an incredible battle with Marquez and Rossi”. He spoke of how he was sure that “”everyone watching today, either in the circuit or at home, must have enjoyed it a lot”.
Iannone said he was “pleased” as even though “the final part of the championship didn’t go the way” he had planned, that on “his last race for the Ducati Team” he was able to “get onto the podium despite a rather difficult situation to manage”.
He said, “Even though after four years unfortunately we go our separate ways, I want to thank Ducati, to whom I have always given 100% and from whom I have always received the maximum of support, and all its engineers, mechanics, team personnel, fans and Ducatisti.” An emotional Italian said, “I will never forget this great big family, and part of my heart will forever remain in Ducati.”