2014 Valencia Sunday Round Up: Of Dodgy MotoGP Weather, Fuel Issues in Moto2, and Miller vs Marquez in Moto3
It was a fitting finale to one of the best season in years. The arrival of Marc Marquez in MotoGP has given the series in a boost in the arm. Not just in the premier class, the influence of Marquez reaches into Moto2 and Moto3 as well. Tito Rabat's move to the Marc VDS team completed his transformation from a fast rider to a champion, but the schooling and support he received from the Marquez brothers at their dirt track oval in Rufea made him even stronger. And Marc's younger brother Alex brought both talent and Maturity to Moto3.
It made for great racing at Valencia. The Moto3 race featured the typical mayhem, but with extra edge because there was a title on the line. Tito Rabat tried to win the Moto2 race from the front, as he has done all year, but found himself up against an unrelenting Thomas Luthi. And in MotoGP, Marc Marquez set a new record of thirteen race wins in a single season, despite being throw a curve ball by the weather.
Marquez was the first to downplay his taking the record of most wins in a season from Mick Doohan. "Doohan won more than me," Marquez said. "He won twelve from fifteen races. Thirteen is a new record, but not so important." Though it is admirable that Marquez can put his own achievement into perspective when comparing it to Doohan's, that is not the full context. Doohan actually twelve of the first thirteen races in 1997, making his win rate even bigger. Then again, Doohan had to beat Tady Okada, Nobu Aoki and Alex Criville, while Marquez has had to fend off Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.
Even Doohan's win rate pales in comparison with those of John Surtees and Giacomo Agostini, who both had perfect seasons in 1959 and 1968 respectively. But the 1959 season had only seven races, and the 1968 ten races, a good deal less than the current total of eighteen.
Full recap and results below.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Valencia:
MotoGP looks set to head to Austria from 2016. Today, Red Bull co-founder Dieter Mateschitz and Dorna reached an agreement to host an Austrian round of the series at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. The agreement is merely preliminary, and subject to the track gaining FIM homologating the track and granting it a license to stage a MotoGP race.
The Red Bull Ring - previously known as the A1 Ring, before being bought by Mateschitz - has been upgraded and this year hosted both a round of Formula 1 and a round of the Red Bull Air Race. It was also the scene of the last Austrian Grand Prix, held back in 1997. The race was dropped after that year due to poor spectator attendance.
Now, with increased visibility of the series, and especially increased involvement by Red Bull in MotoGP, stepping up sponsorship, the prospect is more attractive for both the organizers and Dorna. The inclusion of Austria from 2016 makes it almost certain that at least one Spanish round, and possibly Misano, could be dropped from the MotoGP schedule. Thailand looks a firm favorite to also host a round of MotoGP in 2016, and talks are continuing with Chile as well.
With the prospect of Alex Marquez wrapping up the Moto3 title at Valencia, Honda issued a press release looking back at the history of brothers in racing:
MotoGP BROTHERS IN ARMS: A SIBLING HISTORY
Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) has the chance to make history on Sunday by joining his brother Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) as a World Champion. Never before have two brothers won World Championships in motorcycle Grand Prix racing.
The super-successful siblings have already made history this season: at June's Catalan Grand Prix they became the first brothers to win Grand Prix races on the same day, Alex taking the Moto3 flag a few hours before Marc climbed the top step of the MotoGP podium.
Of course, the Marquez brothers are not the only siblings racing in MotoGP: Aleix and Pol Espargaro race each other in the premier class and there's a long history of motorcycle-mad brothers racing in Grand Prix racing.
If one day either the Espargaro or Marquez brothers climb onto a MotoGP podium together, they won't be the first to do so. That honour went to Argentinean riders Juan and Eduardo Salatino who finished second and third on their Nortons in the locally dominated 1962 Argentine 500 Grand Prix.
Full Recap and Results Below.
Tito Rabat has topped the third Moto2 Free Practice session at his home track in Valencia, the recently crowned World Champion returned to familiar metronomic form to post several runs of impressively quick laps, going faster and faster as the session unfolded. He eventually topped the time sheets with a lap of 1:35.156, this put him a tenth quicker than his Marc VDS team mate Mika Kallio and a further tenth ahead of Friday pace-setter Johan Zarco.
Thomas Luthi and Sandro Cortese claimed fourth and fifth places respectively ahead of Maverick Vinales and Jonas Folger. The Italian duo of Franco Morbidelli and Lorenzo Baldassarri posted the eighth and ninth quickest times while home town hero Jordi Torres rounded out the top ten aboard his Suter.
2014 Valencia Friday MotoGP Round Up: New Bikes, New Collaborations, And A Well-Structured Talent Pipeline
Valencia is always an incredibly busy weekend. The last race of the year means a chance to look back at the season which almost past, and the last chance before the winter break to present projects for next season in front of a large audience, or at least, a large press group. As a journalist, you can end up running around the paddock like a headless chicken, sprinting from event to event with no clear idea of what you are doing and with each new event wiping the memory of the last from your mind.
A selection of the events this weekend: A press conference organized by Dorna featuring the principals from the three factories in MotoGP, to look back over the season and review the future of the sport and how it is promoted (interesting, but long-winded). The presentation of Tech 3's new Tech 3 Classics project, which will see Tech 3 engineers restoring classic racing motorcycles for the general public (mercifully brief, but with some stunning old machinery on display). The presentation of the CIP Moto3 team for next year, with Remy Gardner, son of former 500cc world champion Wayne, to contest his first full Grand Prix season. A farewell to Colin Edwards, organized by the Forward Racing team. The introduction of the collaboration project between Monlau, Marc VDS Racing and Estrella Galicia which will see them racing in all three Grand Prix categories, the Spanish CEV championship and the Pre-GP class in Spain (revolutionary, poetic, and in three languages).
It is enough to make you forget about the fact that there are bikes out on track preparing for the last races of the season on Sunday. That is, after all, the actual raison d'etre of the Grand Prix paddock, and the reason we are gathered here in the first place. Even there, new projects were on track distracting the focus from Sunday, offering a glimpse of the bikes which will feature next year. Suzuki is at Valencia for a wildcard appearance, the first time the new GSX-RR has raced ahead of the factory's return to MotoGP. And Hiroshi Aoyama has been handed the Honda RC213V-RS, Honda's new Open class bike for 2015, much to the chagrin of Scott Redding, who is battling with Aoyama for the top Open Honda slot this season.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after practice on Friday at Valencia:
Moto2 rider Johan Zarco has followed the lead of Niccolo Antonelli and Marc Marquez before him to lead both Friday practice sessions at Valencia despite a crash with five minutes remaining. The Frenchman was very consistent throughout, reeling off a succession of impressive lap times in the low 1:35 bracket. He eventually topped the field with a time of 1:35.263 which was one tenth quicker than he managed in the early session and put him exactly one tenth clear of Tom Luthi in second place.
World Champion Tito Rabat appeared relaxed at his home track and took it easy by his usual tireless standards, he completed a lower volume of laps than usual but still claimed third spot ahead of his team mate Mika Kallio and Suzuki-bound Spaniard Maverick Vinales who rounded out the top five.
The last race of the season is always a little bit special. They are even more special when riders are still scrapping over the spoils, battling for titles, for positions, for honor. There is much at stake at Valencia: a Moto3 title, second place in the MotoGP and Moto2 championships, and the team championship in MotoGP. Above all, though, there is victory, the glory of joining the elite band of Grand Prix winners. At the end of the day, that is what motivates motorcycle racers most on any given Sunday.
Top billing at Valencia is the race which is first, but with the most at stake. On Sunday, Jack Miller and Alex Marquez will slug it out for the 2014 Moto3 World Championship. The race at Sepang set up a fantastic season finale, with Miller riding an intimidating race to cut Marquez' championship lead. Just 11 points separate the two men, putting Marquez easily within reach of the Australian. But Miller will need help: it is not enough for him to win, he also needs to put a few riders between himself and the Estrella Galicia Honda of Marquez. As Miller found out at Sepang, that risks letting someone else slip ahead of him, making his quest even more difficult.
The math is relatively simple. Those 11 points would be enough for Miller to take the title, the Australian already having more wins than the younger Marquez. That means finishing ahead of the Estrella Galicia Honda, but above all, keeping him off the podium. A 3rd place finish would be enough for Marquez to lift the title, even if Miller were to win the race. Things get more difficult if Miller doesn't win: if he finishes second, then 6th will do for Marquez; if Miller ends in 3rd, then 11th will be sufficient for the Spaniard. If Miller doesn't get a top five finish, then his title ambitions are gone.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of this weekend's final round at Valencia: