I am sure we are all trying to remember our coping strategies for what to do over the winter when the motorbike season comes to an end, and we are without out beloved MotoGP for several months, as the realisation that there is just one more round of the MotoGP left this season before it comes to an end.
Now in all fairness, what a season 2016 has been, but it has already sort of been overshadowed by next season already as we know that there will be a lot of changes in the paddock that bring a lot of wonderment and excitement. The final round, round 18 of 18, will see the three classes return to Europe from the three action-packed ‘flyaways’ as they meet at the Communitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo, for the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain. The circuit was named after Spanish rider Ricardo Tormo who lost his battle with leukaemia in 1998.
Hopefully the sun will be shining bright in the sky with no clouds, and the rain will hold off so we can end the season with some dry races; not that the wet races haven’t been amazing too. Thousands of fans tend to travel to the Spanish circuit for the season finale. This year all of the championship winners have been decided in the three classes, but it doesn’t mean to say we aren’t in for a great event.
We bid farewell to some MotoGP riders
The race, being the finale of the season, will also be the final time (for the time being) that we will see the likes of Eugene Laverty (Pull & Bear Aspar MotoGP) and Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) competing in the elite class, as they will be returning to World Superbike next season. Yonny Hernandez (Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati) will also be leaving the MotoGP class, and returning to the Moto2.
Last opportunity to see some riders with current teams
Remember earlier on this season that Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) announced his move next season to the factory Ducati Team and sparked loads more movement in the paddock? Well it means that for the time being this is the last time we will see the Spanish rider in blue as he completes his last race on the Yamaha. His move meant that Maverick Vinales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was chosen, and decided to replace him at Yamaha, and Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) who was let go from Ducati to make room for Lorenzo, will be replacing Vinales at Suzuki.
It doesn’t stop there though as it will also be the last race for Alvaro Bautista for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, as he is moving to Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati, Aleix Espargaro and Team Suzuki Ecstar as he is moving to Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, and the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro will be running their last race for their team as they are set to move to KTM when they are introduced next year.
Debut appearance for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team
The season finale will mark the world championship debut for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team. Mika Kallio, test rider on the Austrian machine, will make the wildcard appearance show casing the bike that has been tested already at several circuits.
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini go (RED) in Valencia
In a bid to raise awareness for certain diseases in third world countries, the entire Aprilia Racing Team Gresini will be donning the colour (Red) at the 2016 MotoGP season finale at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valencia, in Spain. (RED) is a charity founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver who are trying to raise awareness and ‘contribute to programmes’ as the fight continues to overcome the like of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in developing and third world countries.
Already they have been able to raise around $360 million to the Global Fund that have helped people in the likes of Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland. Over 70 million people have been helped to prevent and treat the diseases and to test those who may have contracted them,As a way of thanking all of the partners and sponsors, and to help raise awareness and hopefully more funds towards the cause, Aprilia Racing, Gresini Racing, (RED) and the Piaggio Group, along with others will show their support at the season finale of the MotoGP season in Valencia.
Throughout the weekend, the Aprilia RS-GP, will be sporting a new livery, in red for (RED) for the high profile event. The two riders who will be completing their final race for the team, Bradl and Bautista, will be wearing leathers to match. The team crew members and all those associated will also be dressing red as they come together to back the cause. The hashtag #iRideRED will also be launched during the weekend to help raise awareness amongst social media platforms.
The MotoGP to welcome four rookies next season
This will also be the last time we will see the MotoGP pack run as they are, as next season they will be joined by Moto2 riders who will become MotoGP rookies; newly crowned Moto2 champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) and Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) will be the new boys in the Mosnter Tech 3 Yamaha camp, Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) will join Iannone at Suzuki, Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) will join Aleix Espargaro at Aprilia. Also, we will welcome Karol Abraham back as he will join Bautista on the Aspar team.
Well this has also had a knock on effect on the other two classes as a result. Some Moto3 riders will also become Moto2 rookies included 2016 Moto2 champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who will join KTM and Ajo as they create a new Moto2 team.
Some more of his current competition will be joining him as he takes the step up, as riders are going to be introduced left, right and centre. So this is the last time you will see them riding for their current teams and it will be the last opportunity for the rider to express their gratitude to their teams with a great result. But instead of going any further into it, let’s look at what to expect in Valencia…
Valencia’s vital statistics
The Valencia circuit, built in 1999 is situated in Cheste, Valencia, Spain, is 4km (2.49 miles) in length and is approximately 12 metres (39.37 feet wide). It is made up of nine left hand corners, and five right, and the longest straight is 876 metres (2874 foot) long, although the MotoGP will run the route where the longest straight is 650m long. It is one of the smaller tracks on the calendar however it still houses 48 pit garages and 150,000 spectators can take a seat in the surrounding grandstands. Unique to race circuits these days, the layout of the circuit means that every part of it can be seen from each grandstand.
A lap of the Spanish circuit…
Ridden anti-clockwise, the riders are greeted at the end of the start-finish straight by a sweeping left hander that leads them onto a shorter straight. They’re then met with turn two, (Mick Doohan) a hairpin leading to a short run that helps them to build up speed for the obtuse angled corner, turn three. Four is a right-angled right-handed corner that it met followed by an almost 180 degree corner. Then another short straight guides them into the square like left hander turn six (Angel Nieto) before another straight that allows them to build up speed for the fast left hander at turn seven (Aficion).
Another short straight brings them to turn eight which guides them again almost 180 degrees, this time to the left, where another short straight is met by like a long chicane over turns nine and 10. Turn 11 again brings the rider back on themselves ahead of another straight then is met by another almost 90 degree right handed corner, turn 12 (Champi Herreros). It is followed by a long, fast, sweeping left hander that guides them to the final corner, turn 14 (named Adrian Campos) which is a tight-left hander that guides them back on to the start-finish straight.
The MotoGP class will run 30 laps of the circuit which will consist of 120.2km (74.7 miles). The Moto2 class will run 27 laps covering a distance of 108.1km (67.2 miles), and the Moto3 class will race 96.1km (59.8 miles) over a distance of 24 laps. The current MotoGP lap record is held by Lorenzo from last year when they met. He set it during the race with a time of 1:31.367 which was 1.356 seconds slower than his lap time that secured him pole position (1:30.011).
What are Michelin bringing to the table?
Once again, this is the first time that French tyre manufacturer Michelin will be the suppliers to the MotoGP class for the race in Valencia; Michelin have previously tested here. Due to the layout of the track, the Michelin tyres will again be made up of an asymmetric design with the left hand side of the tyre being harder due to the amount of duress the tyres will be put under. There may be concerns as to whether the right hand side is up to optimum temperature as some distance is covered before that side is used.
The Michelin Power Slick will be available in the medium and hard compound option for the front tyre, and the rear will be available in soft and medium compound for the rear. The Michelin Power Rain will be available in extra soft, soft and medium compounds for the front and the rear, and Michelin Power Inters will also be available. In Valencia, temperatures have been reaching highs of 23 degrees celcius, and so although it is warm temperatures would drop quickly should conditions change.
No controversial showdown this year
Cast your mind back to last year, it was the round after Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) was penalised for the ‘incident’ involving Marc Marquez (Respol Honda) and he had to start the last race of the season from the back of the grid. Despite all of his extraordinary efforts to make up the lost ground, Rossi worked incredibly hard to make his way up to fourth; however Lorenzo won and therefore controversially took the 2015 MotoGP championship also.
Lorenzo’s win last year was his third in Valencia and he shares the record with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda). Last year he was joined on the podium by Marquez in second and Pedrosa, who has missed the last three rounds due to injury sustained in Motegi when he had a huge high-side and broke his collarbone, fibula and toe and will be making his return for the season finale. Casey Stoner has the third highest number of wins with two, but he does have the record for the most pole positions (four). After him Rossi has the second highest number with three, and Pedrosa has had two pole positions.
Will we see a 10 different winner in the MotoGP this season?
Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso claimed his second MotoGP career win, his first this season, at the last round in Malaysia becoming the ninth different winner so far this season. He is added to the list made up of, Rossi, Marquez, Lorenzo, Iannone, Pedrosa, Vinales, Cal Cruthclow (LCR Honda), Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), and now Dovizioso have all took their turn in claiming the top spot of the podium, will there be another one? Who will be next?
Several riders have the potential and all want that win for different reasons. Aleix Espargaro has shown an incredible form of late and has beaten his teammate on a few occasions who was able to show what the Suzuki is capable of, and that it is a competitive bike. The Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati teammates Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding are battling for who will get the Ducati Desmosedici GP17 next year, and the win will definitely help them with their cause as just one championship point separates them. Don’t forget that aspects like the new tyres and ECU have already spiced things up this season too.
'Never say never' in the MotoGP
Will one of the Aprilia boys get it to prove that the Aprilia is now a competitive machine? Will Laverty want to prove to the Aspar team that they made a mistake in not giving him a better bike next year, and will he seize his last opportunity as a MotoGP rider (for now) to get his hands on a win? Will Barbera and Loris Baz pull it off for Avintia Ducati after finishing fourth and fifth in Malaysia? There is no telling what will happen as the MotoGP riders have all said, “Never say never!”
The championship standings not fully confirmed
In the MotoGP championship, first and second position has been confirmed as Rossi broadened the gap to prevent Lorenzo from being able to catch him now. The top eight have been decided, but not necessarily the order as the results from Valencia will be needed to define the rest of the standings. Vinales has a chance of catching Lorenzo for third, Pedrosa if he is fit to ride will cold catch Dovizioso for fifth, Crutchlow could catch Pedrosa, and Pol Espargaro could catch Crutchlow, who failed to collect points in Malaysia, to steal the crown as the top independent team rider of 2016. It was Pol Espargaro who was the highest independent last year, so keep your eyes out for that too.
Zarco the double Moto2 champion
The Moto2 championship has just been decided as Zarco stormed to victory in the wet at Sepang, and claimed the win which confirmed him to be the 2016 Moto2 champion, and he also became the first Moto2 rider to consecutively win the title as he is now double champion after retaining his 2015 status. Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten), who holds the circuit record lap from 2014 with a time of 1:35.312, Rins, and Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), who made it onto the podium at each of the ‘flyaway’ rounds all have the chance to claim second in the championship, as behind them Sam Lowes, Folger and Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) need to decide on fifth.
Six different riders have won in Valencia since the Moto2was introduced in 2010. Last year in the 600cc class, Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was on pole and won in Valencia; he also set the fastest lap of the race which was his Moto2 finale. Rins finished the race in second 0.309 seconds behind Rabat, and almost three seconds ahead of Luthi; so a result like that will mean that Rins will take second in the championship. The best ever lap time completed in the Moto2 class was 1:34.957 by Pol Espargaro in 2013.
No telling who will win the Moto3 class in Valencia
None of the riders that are competing in the Moto3 at this moment in time, have ever won this category in Valencia. In the 250cc class, it was John McPhee aboard the Saxoprint RTG Honda that was on pole for the 2015 Moto3 season finale. However, due to the injuries the Peugeot MC Saxoprint Mahindra rider sustained in Phillip Island, he has been unable to fly and is still stuck out in Melbourne unable to compete for the rest of the season.
It was Miguel Oliveira (Leopard Racing) who won the 250cc race last year for Red Bull KTM Ajo before he bid farewell to the team he is returning to next year, and moved to Leopard Racing. Oliveira has missed the last few rounds due to a broken collarbone but will be making his return for the last race with his team and for the season, at Valencia.
Oliveira was joined on the podium by Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) who is battling in the Moto3 championship for second with Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3), who is due to make his return from injury. Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing) was third and will be hoping to make it on to the podium again after collecting his best ever career finish in Sepang where he finished second in the wet. Brad Binder, who finished fourth last year, is the 2016 Moto3 champion, and will be looking to finish his last Moto3 race on the podium and will go out looking for the win. Bastianini was fifth and Isaac Vinales (RBA Racing Team), who recently celebrated his birthday, was sixth.
But look out for Francesco Bagnaia aboard his Pull & Bear Aspar Mahindra. He collected his second ever Moto3 podium at the last round, as he too stormed to victory in the wet narrowly avoiding all the carnage that happened around him; he is now third in the championship behind Bastianini after passing Navarro. As a result of him winning three Moto3 races, he is going to get a test-ride of the Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati Desmosedici GP 14.2 in Valencia on Tuesday prior to the season finale; after winning a bet with his manager Jorge Martinez and Gino Borsoi.
Rookie of the year?
And don’t forget all of them rookies who have provided us with so much thrilling entertainment over the last year. Out of the many that compete, it is Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46), Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) and Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) who are challenging to be the ‘rookie of the year’. However there is no doubt in saying that each and every one of them have been impressive throughout.
Tissues at the ready…
For the final time this year, the race schedule will be at a normal hour thankfully. The Press Conference wil take place on Thursday 10th November at 4pm (GMT) immediately after the Micheling Press Conference. Free Practice wil start on Friday 11th November at 8:00a, (GMT), as will Free Practice and Qualifying on Saturday 12th november.
Race day, Sunday 13th November, will begin bright and early with the Moto3 warm-up kicking things off at 7:40am (GMT). The Moto3 race will begin at 10:00am (GMT), the Moto2 race will commence at 11:20am (GMT) and the final, final race of the season will start at 1:00pm (GMT)... and then I don't know what we are going to do.