Two days ago MotorMartin previewed the finale to the 2017 MotoGP World Championship at Valencia and looked into what the main two protagonists needed to achieve if they were to finish the day as the 2017 World Champion, an article which can be found by clicking here. So what happened? Who grabbed the opportunity and in what way did the race evolve? Was it Honda or Ducati that were celebrating?
When the lights went green it was the usual melee into the first corner with Dovizioso making headway from the off, moving up from 9th to 6th, just behind his Ducati team mate Lorenzo, after the start whilst Marquez, starting from pole position, led before being passed by Zarco on lap three. However, it was soon apparent that all was not right in the Ducati camp as after their two riders swept past the Suzuki of Iannone, Lorenzo remained in 4th and looked to be holding up Dovizioso for lap after lap, all the while allowing Zarco, Marquez, and Pedrosa to remain relatively relaxed out in front.
With Marquez needing to finish now lower than 11th to win his forth World Title in just five years, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for Dovizioso to overcome the odds and one that looked to be even harder with Lorenzo refusing to yield. Shots of Ducati management in the pits did nothing to hide the mounting pressure the longer Lorenzo’s obstinacy continued, despite coded text messages straight to Lorenzo’s dashboard suggesting he change to engine mapping eight.
And then, with seven laps to go and the race edging towards it’s seemingly inevitable conclusion, there was finally something to shout about. Marquez had been shadowing Zarco from lap 3 whilst being protected by his team mate, the ever reliable Pedrosa, in 3rd and all the while Lorenzo preventing Dovizioso from taking the fight to Marquez and trying to force a mistake from the Spaniard. A situation that changed in an instant when Marquez finally made his move, drafting past Zarco and into the lead once more but entering the following turn far to quickly, losing the front and seemingly the race in an instant.
Yet the Spaniard’s incredible talent saw him save his Repsol Honda RC213V from certain destruction with his knee and ride, somewhat haphazardly, into the gravel trap before emerging down in 5th behind the two Ducatis and still Lorenzo kept Dovizioso at bay. The issue was neatly solved for the the Ducati team and their management when two laps later it became clear that Lorenzo had pushed his machine too far, ending up in the gravel himself and allowing Dovizioso all of a few hundred metres of his new found freedom before resolving the title fight with barely a rearward glance, himself a victim of the same corner that did for Lorenzo.
Limping back to the pits, Dovizioso had proved himself an admirable adversity in the heat of the 2017 MotoGP World Title but when push came to shove it was Marc Marquez that proved himself to be pretty much untouchable, and let us not forget, his Honda had well documented handl8ng woes for much of the first half of the season.
The race winner, almost inevitably, was the ever reliable Dani Pedrosa who led from Zarco (a talent for the future and no mistake) and the ecstatic Marquez over the line to rapturous celebrations from both Repsol Honda and Zarco’s Tech 3 Yamaha Team whilst Dovizioso ended his race sat in the rear of the Ducati garage.
On winning the Championship Marquez said, “It is an amazing feeling. In the race I tried to be calm and control the situation. In turn one I lost concentration on the braking point. I would like to congratulate Dovi and the Ducati team.”
And you can’t say fairer than that. Not quite the classic end of season dual the neutral was wanting but over the season? It’s been a heck of a ride.
Where will you go?