Rightly billed as the race of the decade, the final race of the premier class of the MotoGP was a showdown between the Factory Yamaha Riders, with Rossi and Lorenzo both in contention to take the crown. It was the Spaniard, Jorge Lorenzo who rode the race of his life, holding off the Honda’s of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa to win at Valencia and take his 5th MotoGP crown, the 3rd in the Premier Class. It was his first title since 2012, after narrowly losing the 2013 title to Marquez.
Events from the Malaysian Grand Prix meant Rossi would be starting last on the grid. Qualification saw Lorenzo set a blistering lap to start on pole. With a 7 point advantage, Rossi would need to finish at least 9th, in order to have any chance at the title, with positions depending on Lorenzo’s eventual finish.
The start was a perfect one for both of them as Lorenzo was able to pull away from the pack pursued by the Honda factory riders. Rossi made up places right from the start and began his battle up the field. Within 10 laps, the 9 time champion had cleared the field to reach 4th, every pass drawing loud cheers from the vocal supporters who flocked to see the race, while Lorenzo was 1st, ahead of Marquez and Pedrosa. Based on the standings then, Lorenzo would be winning the title by 5 points. A 2nd place would have been sufficient for Lorenzo, as he would finish on equal points with Rossi, but would win the title as he would have more wins.
If Rossi had any chance, he needed to finish 2nd, or hope Lorenzo would finish behind both Hondas (barring any crash or two, to the riders ahead). The Honda’s which are notable for better tyre conservation and the somewhat passive ride by Marquez and Pedrosa indicated a late charge. It came from the latter, who made 2.5 seconds in just 5 laps, but Marquez, who had been right on Lorenzo’s tail for the majority of the race never made a move. He only defended on lap 28 when his teammate attacked, but that allowed Lorenzo to pull ahead and hold off the charging Pedrosa.
Could it be a controversy, as Marquez deliberately held off his attacks (being mathematically out of the championship races ago), to deny a chance of Rossi, with whom he clashed at Malaysia and several other races in the year, a record 10th MotoGP crown. Could be possible.
Marquez is noted for his aggressive style of racing, he always pushes it right from the start and tries to build large manageable leads, or works hard to close the gap, especially during the latter half of the race. His tyre management skills are good, which should allow him to have better grip. However, he seemed very timid and off his game today. It was almost as he was just shadowing Lorenzo throughout, never making a move despite coming close several times. When his teammate, Pedrosa began a late charge, the battle between the two Honda teammates (that nearly saw them collide) allowed Lorenzo to pull ahead with less than 1.5 laps left. Marquez certainly played an interesting role in the Championship.
It was a heartbreak for the Doctor, whose 10th Crown has been eluding him since 2010, but he delivered the ride of a champion himself, from last to 4th.
It was the first time all season, someone was able to overtake Rossi in the point’s standings.
Lorenzo won 6 races in 2015, to Rossi’s 4. This however, was a brilliant year for the Yamaha factory team, winning the constructors crown, as well as having its riders in a 1-2 position.
However, Lorenzo was a deserving champion, as much as Rossi. It was a pity that Rossi was unable to battle with him right from the start, but it was without a doubt, a very intense and nerve-wrecking race that kept the fans on the edge of their seats.